The 3 Levels of Talent (and How to Recruit Them)

March 10th, 2017
Jon-Mark Sabel

Every week we track down the best HR news, articles, and insights, compiling them here in a weekly roundup. In this week's roundup we examine where to split sourcing and recruiting, video knockout questions, and reenfranchising employees who feel disenfranchised. We'll also take a look at some AI-driven chatbot applications for HR and a novel new way of attracting top talent.

How Should We Break Up Sourcing and Recruiting?

Tim Sackett, Fistful of Talent

“One of the biggest TA failures over the past decade has been this concept of how to break up Sourcing and Recruiting,” Sackett begins. “We definitely need sourcing, and you also need people on the recruiting side. So what the hell should we be doing?”

He breaks down the three levels of positions most organizations have, revealing that it doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense to chop the process in half:

  1. The first level position can be filled easily with little trouble. Jobs in this position are in high demand, and a single online job posting results in thousands of qualified applicants.
  2. The second level position is a little more difficult to fill. There will be some candidates for these roles, sure - but maybe not as many as you would like. In some instances TA might be required to ask for referrals.
  3. The third level position is nearly impossible to fill. No amount of advertising results in the quantity or quality of candidates needed to fill the role.

Analyzed like this, the problem of “breaking up” sourcing and recruiting becomes relatively simple. The traditional recruiting function should have no difficulty getting candidates for the first and second level positions, and should call on sourcers to fill the third level.

Think of today’s sourcers like hired guns. “They’re fixers, just as valuable as recruiters, if not more, they get brought in when there’s a problem,” Sackett concludes. “You plug them into the hot spot in your process.”

In other words, don’t think of the talent pipeline as a segmented tube that needs to be separated into its component parts - think of it as a tube that, in order to function properly, is occasionally patched of holes.

HV Analysis:

This is an interesting way of thinking about the traditional recruiting process. Rather than dividing the process into easily quantifiable bits (as most tend to do), Sackett distinguishes between the different purposes of the process.

Funnily enough, Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Report highlights a similar trend in thinking across the business world. In the report, they distinguish between the “old” rules of doing business and the “new” rules brought on by the digital age. One of these old-new rule comparisons is the following:

Old Rule: Businesses is viewed as a hierarchy.

New Rule: Business is viewed as an agile network.

Sound familiar? Another instance of this old-new rule framework has to do with job roles:

Old Rule: Roles and job titles clearly defined.

New Rule: Teams and responsibilities clearly defined, but roles and job titles change regularly.

If this is the way things are trending, it seems likely that the old school recruiting generalist will find itself shifted to sourcing roles on an as-needed basis, removing the need for outsourced “hired gun” sourcers entirely.

Why Job Candidates Should Be Prepared for a ‘Knockout’ Question

Mark Newman, Fortune

Unconscious bias is difficult to overcome in any hiring process. “It triggers our tendency to hire people just like ourselves, because they reflect things we’re already comfortable with: our values, social background, or education,” explains Mark Newman. Oftentimes, that bias can result in making the wrong hiring decision.

Newman describes three ways he avoids making the wrong hire with unconscious bias:

  1. Rely on a team you trust. Making hiring decisions in a vacuum leaves you vulnerable to bias without realizing it. Having a team of trusted advisors play devil’s advocate is a great way to challenge your own implicit bias.
  2. Look deeper than resumes. “Resumes trigger unconscious bias based on a person’s name, gender, geographic location, and educational experience - none of which has anything to do with whether someone can or will perform.” Using video introductions to pre-screen candidates bypasses this and allows you to understand each applicant on a deeper level.
  3. Carefully select interview questions. If using video introductions, a single question can serve as a “knockout,” allowing you to avoid videos that do not pass that pre-screen. “Because the video can be shared among the trusted advisors, this enables me to get to the top candidates before anyone else,” Newman explains.

HV Analysis:

We know resumes aren’t the best predictor of future job performance, and that video interviewing can be a valuable tool for discerning candidates’ relevant soft skills. Knockout questions, on the other hand, are something we haven’t really touched on.

It makes sense to build a system that more-or-less automatically screens out certain candidates. For instance, when hiring for a software development role, you probably want to hire someone with a basic coding aptitude.

Most Applicant Tracking Systems come with built in knockout questions. These can range from settings that automatically screen out candidates below a certain work experience threshold to “personality gauging” questions that are meant to quantify cultural fit.

But more often than not these fall into the same trap as resumes: they are too one-dimensional.

Prior to the capabilities brought by video interviewing, simple ATS knockout questions acted as a substitute for more relevant metrics. Someone with a great deal of experience might perform better than someone with significantly less. Then again, they could be burnt out and demotivated - with one-dimensional knockout questions, you’d never know.

Video knockout questions avoid the need to substitute more relevant metrics with their less relevant counterparts. Video is a multi-dimensional medium at its core, and situation-based questions can give greater insight into a candidate’s ability to perform than the one-dimensional “how many years of experience do you have?”

Reenfranchising Your Company’s Disenfranchised

David Kahn, TalentCulture

Disenfranchised employees are different from those who are disengaged. “The disengaged are not willing to put in extra effort for success,” David Kahn explains. “The disfranchised are those who do not feel welcome to participate.” In other words, the disenfranchised are so disillusioned with their workplace that they do not feel their extra effort would yield any meaningful results.

Getting these employees back on track means reenfranchising them. Kahn provides a four step process for reenfranchisement and reconciliation:

  1. Withhold judgment. “It’s easy to dismiss those who disagree with us, especially when they are not in a position of power,” says Kahn. “An effective leader cannot disparage or ostracize these individuals.”
  2. Listen to their concerns. Only after withholding judgment can you truly listen to each employee’s concerns. Use one-on-ones to figure out what would make each feel accepted. Know and acknowledge their hindrances.
  3. Form a plan. This means changing how you manage - remember how your previous leadership resulted in disenfranchised employees?
  4. Follow up. Make sure your plan and follow-through is effective with frequent one-on-ones that promote honest feedback.

The disenfranchised want to be involved - they just don’t feel like they have a voice. Give them that voice and strengthen your team.

HV Analysis:

Rebuilding lost trust in the workplace is tough. Initially, disenfranchised employees might see your reconciliation efforts as an attempt to squeeze out an extra ounce of productivity - or worse, a poorly disguised attempt to prevent a lawsuit. Reenfranchising employees can’t just be a weekly or quarterly goal, it requires constant attention to detail and long-term commitment.

But if you stick with it, you won’t just strengthen your team. You’ll attract top candidates that, perhaps disenfranchised at their previous jobs, value your efforts.

The Future Of Work: The Intersection Of Artificial Intelligence And Human Resources

Jeanne Meister, Forbes

“Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years,” Jeanne Meister explains. “Immediacy is one reason why a host of consumer brands are building AI into their products.” For example, more than 22% of millennials expect a response just 10 minutes after reaching out to a consumer brand.

A solution to the growing demand for on demand comes from the AI-driven chatbot. And these bots have potential far outside of customer relations - Meister delves into three chatbot applications for HR:

  1. Chatbots To Answer Frequently Asked Employee Questions. By providing answers to common questions like “What are my health benefits,” HR chatbots like Loka’s Jane can free up valuable time for less monotonous HR tasks. What’s more, by tracking the quantity of questions received, these chatbots can identify information gaps and holes in HR systems.
  2. Chatbots To Improve Talent Acquisition. Chatbots in the TA sphere, like Talla, can make use multiple data sources to create applicant profiles, make simple screening decisions, and schedule interviews. They can also guide candidates through the application process, providing a less stressful and more informative candidate experience.
  3. Chatbots as Teaching Assistants. With online learning on the rise (and online questions in tandem), human educators are stretched thin. AI-driven chatbots like Jill Watson (powered by IBM Watson) can answer up to 40% of students’ online questions, freeing up human educator’s time for more technical and philosophical inquiries.

HV Analysis:

Chatbots are a great example of technology’s ability to “augment,” not “replace.” In none of the above instances are humans being replaced - they are simply being made more efficient.

With big data and predictive analytics providing HR with the framework to implement metrics-based change in the workplace, delegating more mundane administrative tasks to an AI-driven chatbot seems like a great solution.

More debatable, in my opinion, is the use of chatbots for assisting job applicants.

If your application is the digital equivalent of a Gordian knot, it makes sense to use a chatbot to guide candidates through it. Then again, if the candidate experience is so complex it requires AI-assisted navigation, maybe you should reevaluate your application.

The Name of the Game for Recruiting in 2017: Transparency

Tess Taylor, HRDive

As the talent shortage shows no signs of abating, HR teams are doing everything they can to attract the best candidates to their organization. In many cases, this means coming clean about salary, culture, and other perks.

“Nearly half (49%) of all organizations plan to boost organizational transparency about pay, benefits, and other perks this year,” explains Tess Taylor. Pay raises are also on the upswing, reflecting the willingness of many employees to leave if they feel that they are unfairly compensated.

"If an employee works for a company that offers great starting wages and has a progressive compensation process based on clearly defined performance metrics, it will attract and retain more skilled workers,” Taylor says.

Advertising your organization’s above-average wage is a simple (if not expensive) way to poach the best talent. Since younger generations are less cagey about salary discussions, this is a natural (and potentially lucrative) development.

HV Analysis:

Years ago, in the midst of the recession, perks like unlimited vacation and onsite foosball tables might have seemed like a dream to potential hires. Now, in the midst of a talent shortage, these have become fairly par for the course.

As organizations try to build an applicant-attracting brand, talent acquisition has taken on many functions traditionally reserved for marketing. Millions of dollars have been spent on advertising, recruitment tools, and gamification, all in an attempt to attract the best (and most elusive) talent. With such a focus on marketing-style tactics, TA nearly lost sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, people want to be paid.

Fortunately, it seems that many companies (49%) are returning to this realization. Third party sites like Glassdoor are providing salary, benefit, and perk transparency anyway, so most organizations would stand to benefit by coming clean themselves, rather than waiting for crowdsourced data to spill the beans.