Archive for December, 2006

What’s it like to work for you? New websites that give job seekers the inside scoop

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006


Sometimes an idea seems great in theory, but on further exploration a few practical considerations come to mind.  This is the case with the recently-launched Jobberwiki and TrenchMice, two new job sites that give anyone the opportunity to give an insider’s view on working for an employer.

Sounds intriguing… what’s it really like to work for Child, Youth and Family? Telecom? IAG? MAF? Auckland City Council? etc.

Though Jobberwiki in particular is light on content at the moment, these sites intend to help jobseekers make smarter career decisions and be better informed about a particular occupation and/or employer.  On first reflection this concept seems great.  A jobseeker can be more fully informed by hearing real-life perspectives and advice from existing and ex-employees of an organisation.  Jobseekers can even post a question and receive quite specific details from respondents.

I like the concept, but I have some concerns.  You don’t have to log-in or even use your real name on these systems, and therefore they rely on people’s complete honesty.  What about that disgruntled (possibly even under-performing) ex-employee who is very motivated to flame their ex-employer?  Perhaps this contributor’s comment on the Jobberwiki site about working at Mcgraw-Hill fits into this category – again maybe not.  What about a PR company writing a positive blurb about the company or the recruitment manager of a company enlisting staff to do this task? 

Good idea or not, it seems to be gaining some momentum, and hey people have already been discussing employers for a while in the blogosphere (eg 

I look forward to seeing how this develops.  Down the track, could we possibly see employers post their employee engagement survey results in a public forum for all jobseekers to see?

Paul Jacobs

Employment branding - an “establishment” that understands its employee value proposition

Friday, December 15th, 2006


I came across these two billboards in Wellington this week. Their purpose is to recruit “ladies” to work at a gentlemen’s club.  I started thinking how this billboard approach would work for recruiting other job types that we commonly see advertised (e.g. policy advisor, business analyst, finance manager).  Would we try and sell the role and/or our organisation to passers by?  Maybe we would include a lengthy list of selection criteria under the job title and advertise in black and white only – well, maybe not.

Though marketing is an enormous part of any employment branding exercise, it is so much more than getting an ad agency to do some creative and zhoosh up your existing recruitment advertisements with some funky borders and pictures of people smiling. The very important first step should be defining your employee value proposition (EVP). This is an HR project. A starting point is to discover why someone would want to work for your organisation in the first place. Who better to ask than your existing employees?

Developing an EVP is about understanding what attracts, motivates and retains a workforce, or more specifically the particular groupings within a workforce (eg age, gender, location, job type, business group). An EVP recognises that different people have different expectations – it’s a candidate- and employee-centric “what’s in it for me? (WIFM) view of the world. It’s about what a person is going to “get” from their employer in return for their performance on the job. In other words, how will an employer fulfil people’s needs, their expectations, even their dreams? This may include everything from the intrinsic satisfaction of the work to the environment, leadership, career progression opportunities, colleagues, pay and benefits, culture, and more.

The NZ State Services Commission has been conducting research into what attracts people to a public sector career. This research has included building a profile of what a public servant looks like. The outcomes of this research will provide some valuable insights, feed into the branding efforts for individual agencies, and help them be seen as employers of choice.  Although I’m certain there will be some points in common, I recommend that each agency undertakes its own research as each agency has its own work, culture and EVP.

Paul Jacobs

Overcoming our phobia of recruitment metrics

Monday, December 4th, 2006

You have maybe heard the saying “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”.  It’s so true!  I’m surprised, even somewhat concerned, by the number of NZ organisations that are not measuring their recruitment efforts.  Measurement provides a barometer of what is working well; it uncovers problems and bottlenecks, lets you know whether you are getting good bang for your buck, and gives you an idea of where improvements need to be made.  The organisations that are doing this well are making incremental, even dramatic, improvements. 

Measurement should be a strategic priority for any HR function.  Even if your organisation operates a decentralised recruitment model, measurement and reporting should be centralised.  If quantitative and qualitative analysis hasn’t traditionally been part of HR’s repertoire or skill set I strongly recommend buying in this expertise or upskilling yourself on the topic.  If you have outsourced your recruitment and your provider/partner is not measuring their performance on all or most of the metrics below then fire them and look for a more strategic partner.

Quality of Hire

When I say measurement I don’t mean how many live vacancies an internal recruiter is working on or how many hires are made – I don’t view this transactional mindset as a measure of success.  I recommend starting with the end in mind, by gauging quality of hire. 

One client had a very low cost per hire and the time to hire was exceptionally short; however, managers were disappointed with many of the people they hired – a lot were not performing and/or sticking around, which became an enormous cost to the business and a lost opportunity.  To improve the situation, the organisation invested in improving the recruitment and selection process and ran some interview skills workshops with managers. Though time to hire and cost per hire actually increased, the outcomes were better overall. 

Some organisations are getting quite scientific and conducting validation studies, and looking at the performance review and employee retention data to determine whether a quality hiring decision was made. 

A focus on quality of hire enables the HR or recruitment team to explore the various practices across the recruitment and selection workflow and determine whether it is fair (in an EEO sense), working and adding value.  For example, is your managers’ favourite job board, newspaper employment section or recruitment agency actually producing quality hires?  A good e-recruitment system will enable an organisation to get a feel for the effectiveness of any employment branding initiatives and the ROI of different advertising media across regions, business groups and roles.

Other useful measures – time, cost, satisfaction

  • ‘Speed of hire’ – the two most common metrics here are ‘time to hire’ (from when a candidate applies to when they accept a position) and ‘time to fill’ (from application to start date) - the public sector appointment appeals process tends to extend the time between these two.  In some organisations quite a lot of candidates withdraw after they accept the position, which is concerning.  If it takes too long for an organisation to arrive at a hiring decision or simply acknowledge an application then this is a major turn off for a candidate, especially in a tight talent market.  I recommend calculating the average number of days it takes to reach each stage of the recruitment and selection process, and compare the results across regions, business groups, and individual managers.
  • ‘Candidate care’ – this is so much more than having a friendly cup of coffee with a candidate a few months after they are hired.  Track candidate care from the start of the recruitment process.  Are candidates being communicated with or are they being lost in the twilight zone?  Is communication timely and professional?  What are their recruitment experiences like?  You don’t need to be an accountant to gather this sort of information.
  • ‘Recruiter effectiveness’ – this is about tracking the performance of both agency and internal recruiters, especially in terms of quality, speed of hire, manager satisfaction, etc.  Often internal recruiters can get bogged down in the administrivia of recruitment but it is vital that recruiters actively follow up with, even chase, busy managers and put time into building that relationship.  There should also be some KPIs for managers.  Managers need to be responsive with reviewing a shortlist and not ‘sit’ on candidates.  Again, a good e-recruitment platform helps by providing tools and reminders for recruiters and managers.
  • ‘Cost per hire’ – How much did you spend on advertising and agency fees over the past year?  It is not unusual for organisations to have no ideal at all of the real cost of recruitment.  If reporting processes and systems are in place it shouldn’t be any more difficult to capture this information than a model where managers are left to their own devices.  Make sure to include all fixed and variable costs.  Don’t be shocked if the figure is ginormous.

The organisations that have a good grasp on recruitment metrics are starting to develop internal benchmarks and measure their performance against them.  I strongly recommend tracking metrics on a regular basis rather than leaving it to an end-of-year exercise.  Both point-in-time and tracking measures provide valuable insights to any cyclical influences.  Also, keep the number of metrics to a manageable level.  Every organisation and recruitment function is different, so measure those things that you believe to be the most applicable.  If there isn’t a measurement regime in place then remember that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Paul Jacobs