Recruiting – Best Practices

What is “Cultural Fit”? When and Why Does It Matter?  

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 1, 2017

0 All About Staffing. Hiring. Best Practices, Hiring - Best Practices, Recruiting - Best Practices, Resources for Employers, Hiring Managers, HR Professionals get connected

Finding a company/team who do things we enjoy doing, and have patterns of working toether that match up with our own preferred work style, can be a powerful motivator. For employers, selecting employees based on "fit" can have a dramatic impact on your team's performance. … Read More »

Better Hires Take More Time!

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 7, 2015

0 Hiring - Best Practices, Recruiting - Best Practices, Resources for Employers, Hiring Managers, HR Professionals

As a leading provider of temporary, contract and direct hire candidates in the greater Seattle area, we regularly work with our customers to shorten the time between point of need and hiring date – an element in the hiring process that often impacts our client’s ability to capitalize on opportunities or drive unnecessary costs out of their staffing process. … Read More »

6 Essential Elements of a Killer Career Page

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 27, 2015

0 Recruiting - Best Practices, Resources for Employers, Hiring Managers, HR Professionals

With national unemployment at its lowest level in six years and employee confidence at a new high, now is the time for employers to get serious about how they're appealing to job seekers … Read More »

7 Signs It’s Time to Optimize Your Recruiting Function

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 24, 2015

0 All About Staffing. Hiring. Best Practices, Recruiting - Best Practices, Resources for Employers, Hiring Managers, HR Professionals

The traditional role of the recruiter has expanded and evolved so drastically it can feel nearly impossible to keep up. With the latest tools, best practices, and an ever-growing list of new job requirements for talent acquisition specialists it requires a constant need to evaluate, assess, and optimize the recruiting process. Let's do a quick audit of the common signs of a broken recruiting function. … Read More »

How to Hire for Cultural Fit During the Holidays

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 12, 2015

0 Recruiting - Best Practices, Resources for Employers, Hiring Managers, HR Professionals Temp Agencies in Tacoma WA, Temp Agencies in Tacoma Washington, Temp Agencies Tacoma, Temp Agencies Tacoma WA, Temp Agencies Washington

Attitude matters more than aptitude. In other words, cultural fit can be a strong determinant of candidate success, sometimes even stronger than skill sets or experience. So it’s a good idea to hire candidates who fit in, not just candidates who can do the job. … Read More »

How to “Do” Employee Engagement – Not Just Talk About It!

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 2, 2014

0 Recruiting - Best Practices Employee Appreciation, Employee Engagement, Employee Leadership, Employee Motivation, Fierce Inc., Halley Bock, Leadership

The following article was written by our good friend and professional colleague, Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc. Fierce is a world class leadership training and development company headquartered in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington, but with clients working with Fierce leadership concepts all over the globe.  This particular piece appeared in a recent Fierce newsletter, but was originally posted on TrainingMagazine.com. We thought our readers and other friends of PSN would benefit from reading about simple, hands on ways to engage employees in meaningful ways. Marbles Thanks to Gallup’s annual State of the American Workplace survey, we know that employee engagement statistics continue to fall short of expectations and what we know is possible for our companies and ourselves. The short and sweet of it is that only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged, with the actively disengaged costing our economy somewhere in the range of $450 billion to $500 billion per year. That’s a lot of dough to leave on the table and certainly nothing to pride ourselves on. And while so many managers are aware of this issue—we know we need our employees engaged and we can discuss this topic at great length—we don’t necessarily know how to do employee engagement. It remains a statistic we strive for: intangible, elusive, and ever increasing in importance. When it comes to employee engagement, three key trends have surfaced as the most critical for increasing and maintaining high levels of engagement: Candor, Collaboration, and Development. Big topics, yes. But when broken down, we begin to see how we can get our hands on the levers and actually do engagement. Candor According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies rated by their employees as being in the top quartile in openness of communication delivered an average total shareholder return of 7.9 percent over a recent 10-year period, compared with 2.1 percent at companies in other quartiles. According to another study by Corporate Executive Board, the key indicator most strongly correlated with 10-year returns is employees’ comfort in speaking up, even when they have negative things to say. Clearly, candor is important and explains why companies with higher engagement create more profit. Here’s how to do candor: Tell the truth, always. Corporate America continues to squander employee trust, be it through the housing crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy, or the recently revealed GM safety issues and subsequent recall. Little by little, lie after lie and deceit after deceit gets revealed to scores of innocent employees who unknowingly participated in massive schemes rooted in corruption, greed, and mendacity. The devastation to our livelihoods and trust is immense. The only viable way for organizations to regain trust is simple: Tell the truth and keep telling the truth. No. Matter. What. Avoid making excuses for employees, believing they are unable to handle the truth because the truth is, they can handle it. What they can’t handle are the lies and the “massaged” truths. By speaking the truth in a skillful way, employees can rise to the challenge and actively engage themselves in the solution. Ask for the truth, frequently. Candor is a two-way street—an unending feedback loop—that should be traveled often. As much as we deliver candid feedback (both positive and critical), ask for the same in return. No matter what a person’s title, we all have blind spots and could use a refreshing, outside perspective on what we’re doing well and what we could improve. Collaboration In our own survey, The Six Key Trends That Increase Employee Productivity and Engagement, 98 percent of respondents believe exploring other points of view improves decisions. Gallup found that engagement increases at all levels of tenure as employees continue to participate in focused initiatives to improve their engagement. Imagine that: engaging employees in their own engagement through collaborative means. Here are some ideas on how to do collaboration in a way that directly feeds into increasing engagement: Work the lattice, drop the ladder. The ongoing resilience and health of any organism, animate or inanimate, depends largely on its ability to withstand change. Structures that are able to weather these storms are typically well footed, with reinforcements that tie in both vertically and horizontally. Why we believe higher safety, stability, and success exist through creating siloed organizations remains a great mystery to me. Decisions made within a vacuum are dangerous as they are less informed and, therefore, run a higher risk of failure. When making decisions that affect a strategy, customers, and/or employees, take the time to seek multiple, diverse perspectives. Reach across the lattice of the entire organization, pull in insights that will create a better outcome, and strengthen engagement across the board. Create an engagement committee. As per Gallup’s own statistic, employees appreciate having a hand in creating and sustaining their own engagement. This explains why many firms with coveted top engagement levels have teams or committees focused solely on this initiative, or on being a “best place to work.” A company’s engagement culture is not something that can be managed from the top down. Culture is an outcome that results from the quality of relationships employees have with one another, with their company, and with their leaders. Because it is such a vast ocean and because engagement is created through different means for different people, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to create a cross-boundary committee to help guide this ship. By inviting employees in at the ground level we can increase engagement levels immediately. The upside only gets better from there. Development Individual development and the ability to make an impact on an organization is an increasingly hot topic for high potentials and Millennials. To pull another statistic from Gallup’s survey, Gen X and Baby Boomers are the least engaged, but Millennials are the most likely of all generations to leave their companies in the next 12 months if the job market improves. Why? Because they often feel road-blocked from reaching their full potential due to outdated development and promotion programs. These are typically programs that are blindly followed and have very little to do with the individual on the other end. Rather than do development on behalf of others, let’s involve employees so they can do development for themselves. Ask the questions, lose the assumptions. Another danger of living within the confines of a ladder, silo, or closed system is that we lose sight of all the possibilities and begin to view the world in a fairly one-dimensional way. We begin to assume that the only way to progress in a company is to go “up.” Or that it involves managing more people. Or that it means adding an “S” to the “VP” within a title. Or that it certainly must involve a merit increase. In short, we begin to make assumptions that may have a lot to do with our own values and experience but may have little or nothing to do with the individual sitting in front of us. Before envisioning a development path for employees and starting them down that journey, ask them how it is they see themselves growing within the organization. Put the onus on them to create a vision of their future and then develop a path that speaks to them. In essence, engage them in their own development right from the beginning. Challenge status quo. Gone are the days of applying one rule across multiple cases with the expectation that it will “hold water” for an extended time. The world, and thereby business, has become too dynamic and so have the generations of people we employ. To engage today’s workforce and meet their development needs, focus on individuals and their capabilities when assessing new opportunities. For example, revisit how quickly a high-performing employee potentially could make the jump from a junior to senior position. Does it really have to be after a two-year term or after having managed x number of projects or people? If employing a remote workforce is currently off-limits yet a top player requires this shift, lean into the possibility and seriously consider why this would not/could not work. Chances are, those fears are not based on reality and are tied to something else that needs to be challenged. Bottom line, when a top performer challenges your beliefs, rather than defend the policy or your stance, get curious with yourself and the employee. Genuine exploration into a juicy topic alongside any employee automatically will create engagement, and will do so no matter what the outcome. In summary, engagement requires engagement. There’s a lot of doing required—transforming this huge, amorphous topic into something tangible that we can act on. It won’t happen as a result of offering extravagant perks but comes through reinforcing each and every connection within an organization. Creating an intentional culture by focusing on candor, collaboration, and individualized development will put a company well on the path to achieving the statistics we all aspire to.  

My “Go To” Structured Interview

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 29, 2014

0 Recruiting - Best Practices Behavioral Interviews, Candidate Assessments, Interview, pace staffing, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Supervisor, Temporary Staffing, Work Environment

Most times I prepare carefully for an interview – reviewing what a client has told me about a jobs “key requirements” and then writing out a list of questions to ask each candidate, creating a “structured interview.” My company uses structured interviews not only because they are the most legally defensible way to approach the employee selection process, but also to make it easy to compare one candidate to another based on the attributes considered most relevant to job performance. There are times, of course, when this type of preparation isn’t possible (or needed). When there is no specific job in mind and you just want to get to know a candidate, “at their core”—some questions just aren't that relevant. That’s when I, and likely other employee selection professionals, pull out a "go to” structured interview—a set of questions that can be asked of any candidate, regardless of their skills or the type of job they are seeking. There are THREE "areas of inquiry" that make up my personal “go to” structured interview. (Others of you may select different "areas of inquiry"—depending on your typical reasons for generic interviewing.) I tend to go into each of the areas in-depth, rather than skim over certain areas superficially. I start each area with the same opening question and a few pre-planned follow up questions that can be adjusted depending on what the candidate has already revealed about themselves. As students of structured interviews know, one interview question can produce answers to multiple questions, while some pieces of information you want will take 2-3 questions. I   Previous Supervisor Assessments of a Job Candidates Work.   Start with: When I speak with your previous supervisors about your work, what will they tell me they liked most about how you did your job?   Follow Up Questions: What will they tell me were “areas of improvement”—things about your work they would have liked you to change or improve?   Will some supervisors see things in you that others didn't or will they all tell me pretty much the same thing?    Do you always agree with your supervisor's appraisal of your work? Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your supervisor’s view of your work. What did you do? Look For… …information you can use to better understand the candidates strengths and weaknesses in most work situations. Asking a candidate to self-report through the eyes of their previous supervisors is a technique I use because it tends to reveal not only their self-assessment, but the kind of feedback they have been given by others in a position to evaluate their work. To use that line of questioning effectively, you will need to make sure the candidate knows you will be talking with people who know about their work first hand. You would be amazed how a candidate's answers tend to moderate when they know that you will be verifying their self-report. If the candidate has had several supervisors, I look both for common themes and differences in the assessments they talk about. And yes, candidates who “don’t know” or “can’t predict” what their supervisors might say, are suspect – signaling that they may be hiding something. It may also mean they worked for supervisors who either didn’t take the time to give their employees feedback or they were not paying attention to the feedback given. II.    Historical Motivators. Likes. Dislikes. Start with: Are there certain kinds of work environments, supervisors, or work content you know, from past experiences, tend to get your best work? Give me some examples.    Follow Up Questions: What situations have you encountered where you knew you were not as motivated to do well in your job as you could have been? What did you do to improve what you didn’t like? Was there a supervisor who you know enjoyed your best work? Describe how they managed you to get the best out of you? What did they do?  Was there a supervisor who was particularly difficult for you? What did you do to try to improve your relationship with this supervisor? When you have had to learn on the job, what have you found to be the best way for you to learn? I’d like an example of a situation where you had to learn a lot of information quickly, how you did that? Where you had challenges? What ultimately prompted you to leave your last few jobs?    Look for… …those factors in the candidate's work history considered either motivating or de-motivating.  Ask them to describe those situations in some detail so you learn something about the types of work conditions that are likely going to get the job candidate's best work. Are they better working alone, or as part of a team? Do they like or try to avoid change? Are they better in faster paced environments with lots going on? Or do they prefer environments where a slower, more analytical approach works best? How quickly and in what ways do they learn what they don’t know? Also important is to learn something about how external factors have impacted employee’s performance. What are the patterns or trends in their decisions to leave jobs? How did they handle situations that were not ideal? What do they consider important workplace issues and how did they address them – proactively, reactively? How have they handled people and situations they can’t control – a difficult boss, change, conflict? III.   Candidate’s Current Situation.     Start with: What is putting you in a place to be open to a job or career change now?   Follow Up Questions: What are the key things you will be looking for in your next job?  Employer? What have you uncovered are likely to be the key requirements for jobs like that?  What have you done or are you currently doing to prepare yourself to meet these requirements? What in your past jobs has most prepared you for what you want in the future? What types of workplace challenges have you faced and overcome? Look for… …if the candidate is currently working—it is good to know how motivated they are to make a job change. What level of clarity do they have about what they want to do next? How aggressively have they been or are they preparing to pursue their goals? What would prompt them to make a job change? What would prompt them to take one job over another? Summary Observations Notice that none of these lines of questioning or the specific questions themselves are either fancy or tricky. They are straightforward questions that would allow any interviewer to understand the “core” of any candidate quickly. They are also designed to allow the candidate to give honest answers because they are focused on actual behaviors and work experiences, not opinions or speculation. jeanneAt the PACE Staffing Network, we use a wide variety of behaviorally based interviews or conversations with both candidates and hiring managers to make the right matches between jobs and people. We get to know who candidates are, “at their core,” different than the skills, knowledge and work experience they bring to the job. We also work with hiring managers to clearly identify the “key requirements” of the job they are trying to fill—the real key requirements for job success, based on their history with previous employees and their updated analysis of work content and conditions. Only after doing the careful homework it takes to get at both the core of jobs and job candidates can we hope to put the two together in ways that works long term! A match made only at the level of skills, knowledge and experience is never good enough! For more information on PACE’s candidate assessment systems and how we help employers “make a difference” in their staffing outcomes by better matching  jobs and people, contact me at jeannek@pacestaffing.com.  

Communications – A Short List of “Must Dos” for Change Agents

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 23, 2014

0 Recruiting - Best Practices Communication, Leader, Recruiting, Seattle Recruiting, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, staffing, Staffing Agency

“The single biggest problem in communication is the mistaken notion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw How we communicate, the conversations we have with others, is a key factor in our successes (or failures) as leaders—particularly when it's time to promote, lead, or influence change. Conversations that create misunderstandings or hurt feelings will inevitably create mistakes, lower productivity, and damage team morale. In fact, miscommunications are one of the leading causes of “stress” amongst both employees and their leaders. It's often not the change itself that is the challenge—it's all the failed conversations that go on around and about the change that are most impactful to a leader's effectiveness. Here are FIVE THINGS leaders can do to make the conversations we have with others, particularly during times of change, will produce the results we intend. 1. Be Concise.  Think about what you want to say and say it clearly and directly—with ordinary language, not big words or long sentences. If something is hard to communicate, it's probably equally hard to hear. Take the time to make your message simple. And don’t beat around the bush! Focus on a handful of key points and state them clearly. If you use examples, make sure they are relevant to your message. Communicate to learn something about people and situations; to clarify and inform—not to impress.   2. Be Redundant.  Start and end your message with the most important thing you want others to hear: “I am concerned about __________________ and want to make sure we think of all angles."   “While I'm still concerned about __________________, I think we have done a good job of exploring all angles for addressing this issue."   In this particular case, your message is about your concerns and your need to invite and reinforce the team getting involved in finding a solution. At the end of the conversation, you still have concerns, but you also want to reinforce the team's engagement. Make sure they know what they accomplished! Frame your communications with conversational book ends. Open your message with an announcement of what you will be talking about. Close your conversation with what you did talk about. "What I want to talk about today is your role on the team and how it's changing."  "What we talked about today is your role on the team and all the ways it has changed."  3. Listen More. Tell Less.  To engage people in the work it takes to change, it is never enough just to tell people what you want them to do or know and then give feedback when they don't do as you say, or know what you taught. (Sound familiar?) To be an influential agent for change, the first step is to see the situation through the eyes of others, not just your own. Telling others what they should do (or worse yet "should have done") is a tactic that while quick and easy to execute, doesn't reliably get you the results you need. A frequent outcome is misunderstandings, hurt feelings and confusion. Telling assumes your listeners see the same things you do, which is never the case! Entering into genuine conversations about what others are thinking or feeling about the change, allows for learning—all parties.      “I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this situation. I have been going over what happened and think I have some ideas, but don’t want to get stuck behind some information that you might have that I don’t.”   And when it's time for feedback, make it quick and to the point. Long lectures about the what's and whys of "doing it right" are more likely to annoy than inform.    4. Clarify. Clarify. Clarify. Expecting others to “get the message, or make quick and lasting changes" after one message, is a huge mistake and leads to many dysfunctions not only in our communications with others, but ultimately your relationships as well. Replace “I thought we had already discussed that," with "my bad, I wasn't as clear as I could have been." When it comes to communications, lower your expectations of what's possible. Keep communicating. Observe behavior to see just how much of your message has been turned into action, and what of your message needs more work. Confront those who are openly ignoring what you have to say. Gently guide those who you know are trying, but aren't quite where you are—yet. When time is short, and you need to change behavior quickly, follow up your conversations with the request that they summarize what they just heard and the 3-4 things they want to do differently on the go forward. Discuss their plan until you reach agreement, and then follow up to ensure it is executed. While it is possible for ONE GREAT conversation to produce significant change, in most cases, one conversation lays the groundwork for better, easier conversations to follow! The best communicators are often people with simple messages, repeated often. 5. Check Your Filters... those nasty assumptions about the motives and beliefs of others that keep you from hearing what they have to say or discounting what you are hearing because it doesn't align with your beliefs and assumptions. If you have a filter about others that just won’t go, away address it openly and always with a willingness to learn and/or “be wrong.”    jeanne“It feels like we are seeing this situation from two very different perspectives. Let's spend a little time talking about what we are each experiencing."   The best relationships often grow out of situations where there is conflict between very different points of view; where two people genuinely see and/or believe something very different about a particular situation or event. Digging deep to find those places of agreement—either on facts or goals—can become a powerful base for shared respect and understandings. As leaders, taking the time to improve the quality of conversations we have with our key stakeholders—our boss, our team, our peers and coworkers, will have direct impact on our results—particularly during periods where our real job is to help others change, either their behavior or their perspective.

Five Ways to Make a Difference as a Recruiter

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 11, 2014

0 Recruiting - Best Practices job seeker, recruiters, Recruiting, recruiting team, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, social media, staffing

When recruiters think about improving their effectiveness as recruiters or as a recruiting team, they often think in terms of what changes in technology or recruiting content might do for them. We could be so much more effective if we had a new ATS? More access to (expensive) job boards? A better social media strategy? A more attractive compensation or benefit package? Because of the many things in the recruiting process recruiters can’t control, they often overlook the things they can. Here are five things that come to mind for recruiters who want to make a difference: 1.  Know Your Recruiting Story – Tell It Often and Well A good recruiter knows that at some point in the recruiting process, the mechanics of a particular ATS system or their skills to find the hard-to-find no longer matter. Their ability to tell the story of “why this job, this company, should be the job or company for you" is what makes the difference. “Why do I want to work here?” is the fundamental question candidates are asking as they start an application process or accept a job offer. Effective recruiters have a range of stories to answer that question. And for different candidates, a different job, the story needs to be told differently, depending on the candidate’s individual needs and preferences.

  • How will taking this job impact the life or career aspirations of the “right” candidate?
  • What causes are important to your employer that will mean something to a particular candidate?
  • What will working for this company, this boss really be like? Can you tell that story in an honest compelling way?
It goes without saying that at some point stories can’t be told via recruiting brochures or e-mail exchanges. Good recruiters need to be able to tell their stories in up close and personal ways. 2.  Be Honest. Be Real. Make It Easy! Fancy job postings filled with standardized text describing a lot of company information many times irrelevant to a particular job seeker, can be a turn off to job seekers who prefer to be talked to in a more personal, authentic way. While your job postings need to be well organized with key information easily available, the words you use to describe the job and your company need to be believable—as if you are talking in person to the right candidate. Avoid company jargon, keep the writing simple and short, organize information so that the job postings can be skim read quickly. And a special touch would be to invite candidates to engage with you in ways other than filling out a lengthy application—a real differentiator in today’s marketplace where candidates are  tired of dealing with the black holes of “in the cloud” interactions. Most will welcome a chance to "interact" either before, during or after the formal application. Top candidates always have choices as to where to work, and often need to be romanced before the dating can effectively begin. 3.  Prioritize First Impressions – Be Urgent. Responsive.     Moving quickly and responsively to the candidates who elect to approach your company for a job is a HUGE opportunity for differentiation in today's job market. If part of your job includes a responsibility to respond to candidate inquiries, make sure you respond with URGENCY, preferably NOT with an automated response. You would be amazed at how many companies lose talent battles simply because their initial contact to a candidate was too slow (someone got there first) or impersonal, treating the candidate as if they were one of thousands. Candidates form first impressions about your company and you as a recruiter just like you do. The kind of impression you have on job candidates in general can make a difference to how your candidates think about you and your company as a place to work. 4.  Become a “Servant Recruiter”       Using John Kennedy’s famous challenge to America in his inaugural address “Ask not what the candidate can do for you, but what you can do for them,” we believe the impact of the same paradigm shift for some recruiters can be dramatic. You’ve heard of becoming a “servant leader,” well by becoming a “servant recruiter” can significantly grow your recruiting effectiveness. Here’s how it works. Instead of being that “gate keeping authority” messaging to candidates that they either “meet certain job requirements or go away,” become a career partner—someone candidates can share their true selves with, someone who candidates know cares about them as individuals, someone candidates can invite into their professional lives as a valued adviser and partner. Talk about a way to build pipelines of active and passive candidates for future staffing needs? It goes without saying that a candidate who experiences you as a “recruiting servant” will become a candidate who is not only ready to go through the application process today, but someone who will sing your praises to others in the talent community tomorrow. 5.  Optimize Technology But Know Your Value! The range of recruiting technologies available in the current marketplace is mind boggling and there is no question that the impact of these new technologies has been game changing for both recruiters and their employers. The truth is that these technologies are tools – simplifying and automating those parts of the recruiting process that are amenable to that automation, but leaving a lot of room for recruiters to make a difference in all those places in the recruiting process that only humans can impact. A recruiter 1) who tells the “why this job is the right job for you” story often and well, 2) who has changed their paradigm from “gate keeper” to “servant recruiter,” 3) who is prioritizing urgency in how they create first impressions, and/or 4) who knows how to communicate simply and authentically in ways that invites candidate trust is a recruiter who will always be more effective than their more technology-reliant counterparts.   Keep your technology robust and current but make sure the “human touches” that only recruiters can deliver are the real differentiators in your recruiting process.    The PACE Staffing Network has been using cutting edge recruiting technology since we first automated our staffing operation in 1984 – long before automation was a staffing necessity. We have learned firsthand the things even the most powerful recruiting technology can do and the things it can’t. Our strategy is to take full advantage of the best technology has to offer, while preserving our up-close-and-personalized approaches to candidate and client relationships. Our staffing network is made up of independent recruiters and staffing suppliers who operate from that same operating philosophy. Our unique network approach is why, regardless of our client’s needs, we always have either the candidate they need somewhere in our network, or the recruiting solution that will uncover them quickly. For a personalized introduction to the power of our recruiting network and how it would deliver value to your company, contact us at 425-637-3312.