It’s Time to Test Your Application Process

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 08/24/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I won’t be talking about usability, time needed to complete the application, or many other very important topics.  Today I want to focus on a specific test.  A test I think that should be done routinely and regularly.

Either a recruiter from a different area, the Recruiting Manager, or even someone in HR should ask for the resumes of some of top performers that work in the area that is hiring and apply on their behalf.  Use a pseudonym and a different phone number and email address.  You don’t want to make it too obvious.  I would also include resumes of the average (but solid) performers you want to keep.  If this is a replacement position, I may include the resume of the person being replaced.

QuestionBasically, the test would be to see if the people the hiring manager already has on staff (that he or she really wants to keep) would make it to the interview.  Because if the people the hiring manager already has on staff (and thinks they are great) can’t make it to an interview…what is the likelihood of increasing the staff with more great people?  Obviously these people should be called for an interview.

If they don’t make it to the interview stage, this would show a failure in the requirements, pre-screening questions, or other element of the application process.

Also, this would show (if passed with flying colors) that there is a correlation between what is being asked for in the application process and the top performers and/or solid employees on staff.

I see this as something that will become more important in the future…scientific-like repeatability and being able to show a correlation between what we do in recruiting and how it does in fact bring in top performers and solid employees.

The way to move towards this is to test and audit what we do in recruiting more frequently (or start, if you don’t test currently).

We can start with simply the application process, but we could test and audit the entire hiring process.  Do the interview questions we ask really select better talent and therefore screen out low-performers?

If we have employment tests for potential hires, the government wants to know if they are valid tests (accurately gauging better talent) that are not accidentally screening out or pushing away women, minorities, older workers, etc.  I have read many, many articles over the years of how many employment tests are not valid and open companies up to discrimination law suits or government audit of employment practices.

By extension, the questions we ask interviewees should be valid and not discriminate.  There are even questions the government specifically says are not legal to ask.  And yet, we still do not do much to test for validity of those questions to screen out all but the best talent.

Thank you to frankieleon (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you to frankieleon (CC BY 2.0)

We hear in articles that hiring practices and typical interview questions are no better than a coin-toss.  Why?  Because we do not test it.

One way to test your interview questions is to ask top performers and solid employees in that function the questions.  How do the answers compare with applicants for the job?  Maybe do a blind test and have the employee do the phone screen with the recruiter and then debrief the recruiter on what they thought and why.

I am trying to take my original point through all the hiring steps.  If the currently employed top performers can’t make it through the process, how valid is the process?  How could you hire other top performers if the current top performers would be screened out?

I think more testing and auditing needs to happen in recruiting (on ourselves and by ourselves), because we really don’t know what works and why it works.  We don’t bother to test it and determine the factors.  We have very little in terms of feedback loops to tell us what is working (and how well it is working) and what is not working.

Is it any wonder why research keeps saying what we are doing is a shot in the dark, no better than a coin toss, or other analogy?  To make recruiting systematic requires not only processes, but processes with feedback loops (for quality) and processes that should be tested (for validity, for improvement, etc.).  Otherwise, it is just a shot in the dark…a coin toss.

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The Systemic Problem in Recruiting Top Performers

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 08/12/2016 in Recruiting articles |

How many times have you heard one of the following statements from hiring managers?

  • “I want top performers.”
  • “I want to hire a star.”
  • “I am looking for an A-player.”

And then very shortly later hearing something along the lines of the following:

  • “I am looking for someone who has been there and done that.”
  • “I need someone who can hit the ground running.”
  • “this candidate hasn’t been in this kind of position before.”

QuestionIt seems few are willing to point out that these are two mutually exclusive statements.  Allowing hiring managers to continue thinking these are not conflicting statements is the cause of problems in recruiting that which they seek.

In the off-chance that you think these statements are not in conflict, let us analyze what the statements are saying.

Wanting someone who has been there and done that, someone who can hit the ground running, and basically been in that kind of position before doing exactly what the hiring manager is looking to have done…is looking for someone willing and happy to continue to do what they have been doing (and already mastered).

On the other hand, the top performer/star/A-player is probably looking for a promotion or basically get into a position to learn new skills.  They are looking for job stretch and job growth.  They are probably looking because they are bored in their current roles because they have mastered the position already and the related skills.  They are looking for new challenges and to do things they have not done before.

In fact, if hiring managers can not understand this, they are probably not a top performer/star/A-player themselves…and therefore there is another obstacle to hiring top performers/stars/A-players.  Because top performers/stars/A-players want to work for other top performers/stars/A-players.

The mind set of a top performer/star/A-player is different that those who are not.  Their needs must be met – usually the challenge and learning – or they are not happy and become disengaged.  They don’t want to do exactly what they have been doing.

Thank you to Yoel Ben-Avraham (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Thank you to Yoel Ben-Avraham (CC BY-ND 2.0)

But I see repeatedly…in many different kinds of companies…the same mistake of treating top performers/stars/A-players the same as everyone else and not really bothering to care about their needs.  Instead, hiring managers continue to look for the peg that fits perfectly into their hole on their team…with little thought that if it is too good a fit for the candidate’s past experience, a top performer/star/A-player would not be interested because he or she would be bored.

If you want to hire top performers/stars/A-players, then you need room for this person to grow (i.e. they won’t have all the experience already) and therefore you must be willing to take chances on people.

I have been seeing hiring managers take less and less risks.  This is fueling the trend for asking for people who have “been there and done that.”  It is causing hiring managers to not want to consider someone without all the skills upfront.  They don’t want to trust that the candidate can learn it quickly on their own or might be able to handle it without having done it before.

Don’t you see how this closes the door to top performers/stars/A-players who are looking for new challenges rather than continuing in a job they have mastered already?

If your company declares that they want the best talent…that they want top performers/stars/A-players…then fundamentally that means we need to take chances on our hires and we need to consider hiring people who don’t have it all already.  Maybe they haven’t exactly done the job before or had some of those responsibilities, but that is why they are interested.

All through my careers as a recruiter, I have continued to hear people say they want the top talent…but we are moving further and further away from the practices and hiring philosophy that would allow us to attract and hire the top talent.

If we really want to hire top performers/stars/A-players, then we have to see how top performers/stars/A-players are different than most other applicants.  They are looking to do something different, not get another position doing what they have been doing.  We have to accept the risk associated with hiring candidates that have not been there and done that yet.

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Save Time with a Few of My Recruiting Bookmarklets

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 07/26/2016 in Recruiting articles |

You might be thinking, “what is a bookmarklet?”  Well, it is a small piece of JavaScript code that is stored as a bookmark in a web browser.  This code typically allows users to interact with the currently loaded web page or the page it will be going to in some way.

I am offering to share 6 bookmarklets that I created (and one that was found).  I created them with the help of Mr. Coles’ Bookmarklet Creator.  You can enter JavaScript and then hit “Convert to bookmarklet.”  With the help of the Creator, the following bookmarklets were created:

Thank you Britt Selvitelle (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you Britt Selvitelle
(CC BY 2.0)

X-Raying LinkedIn

As recruiters, we have all used Google or Bing to X-Ray LinkedIn.  For those who may not know, X-Raying is using a search engine to do Boolean searches on pages on a specific site.  For example, searching on LinkedIn for profiles in the Twin Cities for specific skill-sets.  I do this enough that I wrote a couple recruiting bookmarklets…using Google or Bing to X-Ray LinkedIn.

Quick Terminology and Acronym Searches

If you are new to IT recruiting (for example) there are a lot of terms and acronyms.  The same for medical recruiting as well.  For ease, I created a two bookmarklets to search for IT terms and one for medical terms.

Miscellaneous Recruiting Bookmarklets

The sixth recruiting bookmarklet I created was for searching a section of LinkedIn that will give you some information and insights.  When you click the bookmarklets and it asks for search term, you can enter “java” (for example).  Then I like checking “Where they work” and “What they’re skilled at”.  Under “What they’re skilled at”, you can select one other skill from the list and it seems to act as an AND statement (lowering the result numbers).  But if you add more than one skill by clicking, it will increase the number of results (so it acts like OR statements among the clicked skills).  You can also click on the spyglass next to “Where they live” and add locations and see how the insights change.  This may give you an idea of what companies to recruit from and perhaps related skills these people may have.  You could even search universities and see where people with a certain skill go for work and further refine the search by what years they attended college (to simulate a rough age grouping).  Kind of a neat tool I just started playing with.

Thank you to theilr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thank you to theilr
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

I am also including a bookmarklet that I once found called “highlight.”  You know how sometimes it is really hard to find terms on a web page?  Granted, you could hit Control-F and you could do a search.  Many browsers let you highlight the occurrences.  But what if you wanted to highlight more than one term?  This bookmarklet will highlight more each time you use it.  The highlighting will stay until you reload the web page.

How to Get Them In Your Browser and Use Them

To get these on your browser, please SAVE and then IMPORT the following HTML file into your browser – Bookmarklets.html

Alternatively, click into the above file and drag each of the recruiting bookmarklets into your bookmarks toolbar.

All seven of the recruiting bookmarklets will work by highlighting a term or terms on the web page you are on and then clicking the bookmarklet.  If no terms are selected, the bookmarklet will open a box asking for the terms you want.

For the dictionaries, enter a single term like “python” or “BSN” or whatever you wanted to look up.

For the LinkedIn X-Rays, you can enter multiple keywords and full Boolean search strings.  I also created them for my area (Twin Cities) and entering “Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area” is a pain, so I made that the default.

For the LinkedIn research tool, I suggest entering only one keyword.

QuestionHow to Modify the Location on the X-Ray Bookmarklets

To change the default area to something you want, please open javascriptcode.txt.  Then cut and paste this code directly into Mr. Coles’ Bookmarklet Creator.  Look for “%22Greater+Minneapolis-St.+Paul+Area%22” and change this to whatever location you want.  For example, if you wanted to change it to Boston…you need to find out what LinkedIn calls the area.  In this case, Boston is called “Greater Boston Area.”  So then you would change “%22Greater+Minneapolis-St.+Paul+Area%22” to “%22Greater+Boston+Area%22”.  That is it…hit “Convert to bookmarklet” and you are done.  Just move the “this link” to your bookmarks toolbar to save it and then go in and edit the bookmark.  Change the name to something you would recognize and then it is there for you whenever you need it.


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Recruiters, Do You Know Who the Top Performers Are Internally?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 07/14/2016 in Recruiting articles |

My first article appeared on ERE today as “The Employee-referral Opportunity You May Be Missing.”  Below is an except, but you can click the link to see the whole article on ERE.


In many companies, once the recruiter makes the hires and perhaps onboards them, the recruiter is no longer involved in the new employees’ time at the company.

This is a mistake and a missed opportunity.

Let’s say you are the sole IT recruiter in your company. You should know who all the top performers are within the IT department. Get updates, at least on an annual basis from managers. This would be regardless of whether the hiring manager has or will be hiring for the year. Think of it as an annual touch-base with the hiring managers; at the least, you will remind them who you are.

The reason for this is because you want to speak with all the top performers and ask them for referrals.


Click here to read the entire article on ERE.


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Corporate Recruiters Need a CRM in Addition to an ATS

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 07/12/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I have worked in a few different corporate recruiting departments over the years.  They almost always had an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).  They never had a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).  Then I went to UnitedHealth Group.  They have both an ATS and CRM for recruiters to use.

CRM“Why”, I thought.  Due to compliance with EEOC and OFCCP, we separate the applications from the prospects.  The ATS tracks applicants to specific positions and audited.  We had a CRM to track people we were speaking with and usually have not yet applied to a position.

I found it very helpful to have the applicants to specific positions in one location and prospects in another location.  ATS are not usually built to be a very good CRM in addition to an ATS.  Likewise, most CRM are not really built to be an ATS.

In an ATS, we need to know who applied to which jobs and where they are in the process.  Usually, the ATS integrates with the company’s job site, so applicants attach their resumes and apply.  Most corporate recruiters know why they need an ATS…but why a CRM as well?

The biggest value of a CRM is to keep track of all the communications with potential applicants.  We need to know who has spoken with them last and when.  That way several recruiters do not contact the same candidate about the same job.  Doing so makes your company look unorganized.  Doing so makes your company look like you are just spamming people.

Resumes files become less useful as years pass and the file ages.  So it is important that the CRM have a link to the LinkedIn profile.  Then with one click you can see where he or she is at now.

Another field to have is “Motivations.”  Recruiters should always ask people they speak with why they are considering leaving their companies, what is missing, what are they looking for, etc.  Knowing this information will make it easier to market positions to them later.  Knowing this will help figure out if your company is even a very good fit for them.  Also, it is good to see if the motivations change over time and in what way.  The CRM would be the central place to record such information.

If you hire a lot of consultants, enter a date field for when the candidate’s current contract ends.  Then you can try to hire them a month or so before their current engagement ends.  This field could also function as a field for date of availability for other prospects.

SearchingIf the CRM does not have file attachments with indexing capability (for later searching of the content of the resume files), you will need a field to enter some of the skills and keywords needed to find them later in a search.  A separate field for highest level of education might also be helpful when searching later.  Having a drop down select field for function and sub-function might also help.  For example, IT and programmers.

Fields for where they are willing to work, how far they will commute, will they relocate (with or without assistance), and how much are they willing to travel will help…but how this is set up will depend on your business and the CRM’s capabilities.

You may want a field for work authorization.  It helps if you work with a lot of visa transfers, or not at all.

The CRM would have fields to enter a phone number and email.  The CRM likely has email marketing capabilities so you can send emails in mass (if you wish).  I don’t recommend it under most circumstances.  The CRM would also track those who opt out of future emails.

The CRM could integrate with the company’s website to create an opt-in Talent Network.  The communications would be different than job alerts that an ATS could provide.  Also, you ask them to enter the minimum information needed to find them in a search later.  You don’t ask for all the information needed for an application.

You could have a salary range field and date of last update of this information.  Do not search compensation information too much.  Salary information changes over time and circumstances.  If a couple years passed since you last saw the record, the salary might be very different than what the record shows.

What information should be in a CRM?  It comes down to knowing what information you need to know in 80% of your searches of the database.  Information that is more likely to change has less long-term value.  You will not see some records from one year to the next.  Keep that in mind.  Also, don’t try to capture obscure information for rare searches.

A CRM would be misused if you want all the information at your finger tips.  You only need enough to make a qualified phone call to the candidate.  Follow the 80/20 rule.  Enter only the 20% of the information that you need 80% of the time.  The longer it takes to fill out the record, the less that will be filled out and the more inconsistent the entries will become.

keysWhatever fields that you do create, a policy must state to completely fill out the record every time…whether creating a new recording or updating one.  If the information is not there, it will not show up in future searches…it is that simple.  The fields are only as good as the data that is entered.  Data integrity is key.

Someone must periodically audit new and updated entries.  Verify that recruiters and sourcers fill out the records completely, correctly, and consistently.  Again, keep how much information must be entered to an absolute minimum (per above 80/20 rule).

Finally, investigate and compare CRMs.  Fee based ones like SalesForce exist, as well as free OpenSource ones like SugarCRM or vTiger.  Investigate the functionality meets your needs before implementation.  However, it can be very inexpensive to implement a CRM within your recruiting department and the value is impressive.

When I was recruiting Epic Consultants a few years ago, I managed to build within a few short months a database of hundreds of consultants.  After speaking with them, I knew when their contracts were ending.  I had alerts scheduled to tell me when to call them before their contracts ended.  As a result, I hired a lot of consultants over the year.  It would be very difficult to do this with the ATS I was using.  Sure, I could have put alerts in my calendar to do the same.  However, when the group expanded to four recruiters, the rest of the team could also see the entries.  They knew which candidates I was speaking with and had existing relationships with.  It kept the communications straight and from multiple recruiters calling the same candidate for the same opportunities within our company.

So if you are a corporate recruiter with only an ATS, I suggest looking into CRMs for your sourcing activities.

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DIY Shoestring Resume Archive with Full Boolean Search

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 06/27/2016 in Recruiting articles |

There are a lot of small companies and small recruiting firms out there trying to recruit talent, but don’t have the resources or money for expensive applications.  I know that often the challenge is to get by with very little.

Thank you to David Davies (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thank you to David Davies (CC BY-SA 2.0)

However, one of the most valuable assets for a recruiting function is the resumes we have on file (our resume archive).  These resumes might be from applicants to specific jobs or just people who have been sourced by the recruiter.  We get these resumes from job boards, Google searches, Scribd, other sites online, or from the job seekers directly.

I once worked at a recruiting firm where each recruiter had resumes on each of their own computers (so the files were not really shared) and there really was no way of searching through them to find particular skills.  They had gotten creative with the file names, so you could tell which ones were Java developers or .Net developers or Oracle DBAs and such.  I worked out a solution for them back then, but today I wanted to share with you my new solution to similar situations.

You need to create a resume archive.  This is a central place for all the resumes to go, so that everyone in the office will have access to the resumes.  Also, I think the best place for them is online…so that people can search from home/remotely or on smart phones/tablets.

If you are interested in this, I suggest you create a Google email account for your company…and activate a Google Drive account for that email.  The Google Drive account as 15 GB storage, but can go to 100 GB for a very small fee ($1.99/month as of today).  My old 3 page resume is 50K, so 100 GB will store about 2 million such resumes.

Once you have a Google Drive account, you will need to install the Google Drive application on each computer in the office.  That way you can quickly and easily upload resumes into the account.  Here is how…

  1. Install the application on your computer.
  2. On your computer, you’ll see a folder called “Google Drive”.
  3. Drag files or folders into that folder. They will upload to Drive and you will see them on drive.google.com.
Thank you to theilr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thank you to theilr
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

You can upload Word Docs, Open Office Docs, PDFs, RTFs, TXT, etc….most formats are accepted.  It may take a while for the files to be index and therefore searchable (in the top search bar labeled “Search Drive” in Google Drive), but I find files are usually available in searches within a few hours.

If you install the Google Drive app on your smart phone or tablet, you can take a picture of a resume with the camera and it will store it instantly as a PDF.

Once the documents have been indexed (automatically) by Google Drive, you can then use full Boolean to search the content of the files.  Each person in the office may sign into the Google Drive account and conduct searches.  As everyone is using the same email account and log in, some of the advanced searches are of no use and I will not mention them.  Below are the advanced search options that may be of interest:

Advanced search options:

Operator Action Example
“search term “ Exact words within the quote marks “project manager” Document name or contents include the exact term project manager
OR Files that include at least one of the words developer OR programmer Document name or contents include one of developer or programmer
AND Files that include both of the words java AND web Document name or contents include both java and web
Does not include, can be used in front of any operator to search for the negative i.e. is not a folder would be -type:folder -sales -type:folder Document name or contents do not include the term sales and search will ignore folders
is:starred Items marked with a star is:starred Files that have been starred.
type: Search for document types – document, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, image, video, pdf type:pdf Finds all pdf files
before:YYYY-MM-DD after:YYYY-MM-DD Files modified before and/or after the entered date – ie search between a set of dates before:2012-10-12 after:2012-10-08 Files modified between the 8th and 12th October 2012
title: Search by title of the file or document (combine with ” ” to perform exact title search) title:”project manager” Files with the title including the exact phrase project manager


I believe this is the least expensive and simplest way to make all the resumes the recruiting team accumulates shared and searchable in a centralized resume archive.  You can start with 15 GB of free space, which will hold 300,000 resumes (averaging 50K each) and it is inexpensive to get more space (if needed).

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The Quickest Way for Recruiters to Shame Their Company

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 06/07/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I know we all have a job to do…for recruiters it is finding people for our open positions.  I know it is not an easy job to do at times, but we need to do it in such a way as not shame our companies.

Thank you to David Davies (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thank you to David Davies (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For example, before you reach out to a potential candidate by email or phone…do you at least review his or her resume or LinkedIn profile?  I would think this is common sense, but I got a call this week for a JD Edwards position.  I asked the recruiter why he thought I was qualified for the role…and he laughed and then admitted that he has not seen my resume.  His sourcing department sends him names and numbers for him to call.  I said he might want to speak with them as I am an IT recruiter who has recruited for JD Edwards, but I wouldn’t be qualified for the role.  With egg on his face, he thanked me and said he will follow up with them.  This is just another form of spam.  I have never heard of his firm before, but already I have no respect for them and would prefer not to hear from them again.

Another example of this is an email I received from a recruiter last week that said, “I am excited to inform you that your background meets our current criteria for the position that you recently applied for” and gave me several times to pick for an in-person interview.  Guess what…I never applied to any such position.  Also, it was from a company I had never heard of before until their email.  In the attempt to get a call back, they lied and hoped I would not care about the lie.  If you are going to say something like this, you better actually see the application in your tracking system and perhaps even mention the date of application.  If you tell potential candidates this and they know they have not applied…do you really think they will call back?  You sound like sort of scam.  Nothing like starting a relationship with mistrust.

QuestionAlso last week, I had a recruiter email me about a Senior Recruiting position via LinkedIn.  But all he said was, “My name is XXXXXX and I am a recruiter at XXXXXXX, this is in regard to a job opportunity with our major banking client, would you be interested in it?”  Really?  Where is the position located (is it even in Minnesota)?  Is this position contract or full-time?  Obviously more information would be needed for me to determine if I might be interested.  Why do I have to guess or reply just to find out?  It would take a few more words to say 4 month contract with a client in St. Paul.  As recruiters, we need to anticipate the questions and objections, and answer them before they are brought up.  By just saying “I have an opportunity…are you interested”…with no details, how would you get any passive job seeker to reply?  How does this compel them to respond?  You would only attract desperate job seekers with such an email.  Don’t they know this is spam?

I had recently been speaking with a candidate about his experiences with various companies.  He related a story and asked my advice.  He said he was called about a Project Manager role in Minnesota.  The recruiter called and told him a bit about the role and responsibilities…and it sounded interesting.  He knows that “project manager” is a somewhat abused term and that salaries for project managers are across the board.  So towards the end of the discussion, being it was not yet mentioned, he just asked…”this sounds great, but could you let me know what kind of salary range you have.”  The recruiter then replied, “well, we are looking for someone who is interested in right position and not focused on the money.”  He said that he understood that and to make things move quicker he told her his current salary.  She immediately said, “we can’t pay nearly that high.”  This is all too common in recruiting, but think about it for a minute.  Are we so naive to think that salary should have no bearing in whether someone is interested or not in an opportunity?

Obviously, this person knew that salaries in his field varied a lot…and he figured he was on the upper side of it currently…so would it not be unreasonable or illogical to ask the question “can you afford me?”  I don’t care how much you say your position is great…it will not make someone work for 1/2 of his or her current salary.  Why be so coy?  Asking what is the salary range doesn’t even mean they are looking for the money more than the opportunity.  It could just mean time is valuable and he or she does not want to waste your or his/her time on a position that really is not in the same ballpark.  Again, as recruiters, we need to anticipate the questions and objections, and answer them before they are brought up.

Thank you to Colin Kinner (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you to Colin Kinner
(CC BY 2.0)

As recruiters, do we not realize that doing things like the above make us and our companies look bad.  It gives a very poor candidate experience.  We are shaming our companies with these practices.  Who wants to work for such companies?  I don’t.

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How to Get Talent Pool Insights from LinkedIn

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 05/17/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I thought I would talk about a conversation I recently had with a hiring manager (that I had never worked with before) during our initial intake meeting/discovery call…more specifically the research before that call.  What I knew ahead of time (from the initial job description sent) is that this would be a Java developer role and the minimum requirements showed a long list that included the following:

  • Java
  • Hadoop
  • Hive
  • Pig
  • HBase
  • ETL
  • JSON
  • REST
  • and a half dozen other items

Also, the position has to office from Boston, MA.  So I knew that if these were all requirements, we would have absolutely no one to show the hiring manager.  It is just too much.  But just saying so would not have the impact I was looking for, so I did some research on LinkedIn.


When I selected a people search and entered “java” as a keyword and selected Boston as the location, I saw that there are 62,921 profiles on LinkedIn meeting these search parameters.

Now if I added “Hadoop” to the search, so it said “java hadoop” in the search bar and again selected Boston as the location, there were 3,038 profiles with the keywords java AND hadoop.  When you add terms in a string, LinkedIn will read it as “AND” operators between the terms.

For each additional keyword I will show you what the number of results were for the other terms when added one at a time:

+ hive       –        810

+ pig         –       428

+ hbase     –       240

+ etl          –        76

+ json       –        15

+ rest        –         8 (and one was actually a recruiter)

Any technical recruiter knows that java professionals are hard to come by these days and many have a H1B…but the pool of about 62,921 in Boston goes down to 8 with only half of the requirements listed in the req I received (and we didn’t even mention number of years experience or anything).

Thank you Esther Vargas (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thank you Esther Vargas (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Of course, there are probably a few more java professionals in existence…as some studies show that 20% of IT pros are not on LinkedIn.  These LinkedIn results can be seen as a sample of most of the population, however.

From this position of power through information, I was able to then have a good initial conversation with the hiring manager. Instead of just saying that there were too many requirements or that few would meet these requirements, I was able to show what the numbers were.

I could show her these results and I did a few other searches on the fly (ad hoc to account for adding or removing certain parameters).  In the end, she was convinced to make most of these parameters preferences and not part of the minimum requirements for the position.

We were able to talk about training and what had to be known on day one and what could be picked up along the way.  She was startled by how quickly the pool shrank with each keyword and became more open to other possibilities.

This is so effective because it tangibly established me as an expert that knew the numbers and could share the numbers were her.  We know that as recruiters we are the experts in hiring and the candidate pools, salaries, etc.  But, many hiring managers do not see us as experts.  Numbers are respected and being someone with all the numbers puts you in a good position of being seen as an expert.

This also helps the conversation in terms of what might not be the right keywords or terms.  I have since had hiring managers ask for skill-sets…that when I looked on LinkedIn…showed only double digit numbers of profiles on LinkedIn for that office location.  One term alone should not kill the candidate pool so readily, so it might not be the right term to use.

Also, as you look at the top few profiles…you might see other technologies or skills listed and you could ask your hiring managers if these are used as well and might be good preferences.  Again, knowing this before the initial call to discuss the new req will put you in “expert” status.  It shows you know something about what they are doing.

Thumbs upYou might see that most of the profiles you see are all coming from one or two companies in the area (besides your own).  And this can be used to fuel the conversation of where to find these candidates.   You can say you know that X and Y have a lot of these kinds of people, so would these be good places to recruit from…and what other companies might be good places to look at.

I suggest trying this the next time you are preparing for a call with the hiring manager about a new job you received.  You may be surprised at how well it works in getting your hiring managers to consider what skills they are requiring.

Also check out my older article, “How to Compare the Size of Talent Pools by Location“…which is the same basic searching on LinkedIn, but using the data in a different way.


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What If We Thought of Our Employees as Volunteers?

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 05/04/2016 in Recruiting articles |

I believe it is important to think differently as a recruiter or leader.  Today’s post is about our employees.  How we treat them is derived by how we think of them.  Because we pay them, many believe this should be enough for them to keep coming back, give us their best, and do as we say.

Today, I would like to challenge that idea and suggest we think of our employees as volunteers.  I know some people may be still thinking – “we are paying them, so they are not volunteers.”  I know that, but I am suggesting we think of them as volunteers and that may change how we treat them.

Thank you to hey skinny (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thank you to hey skinny (CC BY-NC 2.0)

But if we are being completely honest, if your company’s salaries are coming in at below average market rates…you are asking them to volunteer (even though they are being paid some kind of stipend) because they could easily leave to be paid more elsewhere.  And if your company is paying average market rates, what you have is basically a commodity and then it comes down to what else you can offer in order to get them to volunteer to take your position.  Only those companies who are paying more than most everyone else might get away with thinking, “we pay them…that should be enough.”

So, how would this shift in thought change how we recruit our employees?  How would this shift in thought change how we treat our employees?

First of all, we would be focusing on bringing on (i.e. hiring) people with (primarily) passion for our cause and then secondarily skills or talent (which can be trained and training is a way to attract people as well).  We would need a cause first of course, so how are we making the world a better place?  Once you know that, look for people who want to further that cause.  You inspire potential hires with the cause, not the organization.  Ask them to help the cause, not the organization.

We can not just generically say “join our cause”  or “help us change the world” either.  We need to be specific and show that the role we need them to play is a practical and actionable step in furthering the cause.  How will that job specifically make a difference in other people’s lives.

Thank you Nichole Burrows (CC BY 2.0)

Thank you Nichole Burrows (CC BY 2.0)

We would also need to figure out their other motivations for “donating” their time to the cause (even though they are being paid as well).  There are usually additional motivations other than joining the cause.  Is it to meet new people, work with certain people, develop new skills, feel needed, or something else entirely?  There may be multiple motivations within one person, but as a company we need to look for ways to satisfy as many motives as possible.

Again, training would have to be available.  If developing new skills is a motivation, then they will not have everything right now.  As we are looking for passion for the cause primarily, we also might not get someone for a position who has been there and done that already; and may need some training or mentoring.  Having a passion for the cause and interest in the work is more important than not needing any training and being able to hit the ground running.

Once you hired someone, imagine they were not being paid and were volunteers.  How would you treat them differently to keep them coming back and volunteering their time and energy day after day?

First of all, you express gratitude and appreciation frequently and openly.  Not just the top performers…I mean everyone.  You do not wait for the annual review or awards ceremony to say something.  You make them feel needed and appreciated.  Never forget to tell them – as often and in as many ways as possible – that your organization could never accomplish all it does without their help.

Additionally, you need to often show how they have furthered the cause and how they have made a difference in the world and a difference in other people’s lives.  There’s no motivation as powerful as knowing that you made a difference in the world.

Also when new people start, have a peer who has been there for a while show them the ropes. They will get up to speed faster and, if your mentor does his or her job well, they will feel more like a part of the team from the start.  Building the feeling of community is important.  A feeling that we are are in it together.  Make them feel welcomed and wanted.

Make sure that new people are not sent to an office to work only to find that the office is unprepared. So they sit around trying to look busy when really they are twiddling their thumbs.  This is being disorganized and inconsiderate to the new person and is very uncomfortable for the person in this position.  The quickest way to lose volunteers (or good employees) is to waste their time.  So too do not hold countless, unproductive meetings that do not really further the cause.  Wasting time and boredom will cause employees to leave as surely as volunteers from a cause.

Thank you uncoolbob (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thank you uncoolbob (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Regular and consistent communication (two way) is an absolute necessity.  Give feedback often and consistently…not just annually (as I said).  Respond to any concerns or issues immediately. This is not just for managers, but encourage communication (even small talk) among the staff.  You do not want people to feel isolated or cut off…or feeling they do not know what is going on.  You want them to feel part of a team/community that is in it together furthering a cause.  Let them know the progress being made towards goals within the cause made by the organization, their team, and their individual efforts.

These are just some of the things that immediately come to my mind when I think about what might change if we thought of our employees as volunteers who are not being paid.  I am sure that there are many more.  What do you think would change if employees were treated as if they were volunteers?

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When Pay Is Different for the Same Task

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 05/02/2016 in Personal / About Me |

I saw this on Facebook today and it clearly shows what happens when you pay differently for apparently the same task.  The monkey in this experiment is just more honest and open about the reaction to realizing he or she is being cheated and treated unfairly.

Most of us have a deep feeling for keeping things fair.  In seeing someone paid more for doing exactly what your are doing is a slap in the face and we feel frustrated.  We may not shake the bars and slap our hands outwardly, but internally we feel it.

That is why it is so very important that the differences are clear (and explained) when people know they are paid differently.  At times, the jobs we do are different…but how different?  Why are women paid less (per studies)?  Why are minorities paid less (per studies)?

The video made me laugh.  Mainly because it is so true.  I believe in salary transparency so that people know they are being treated fairly.  It may be better for a company to just be open about salaries rather than people finding out unofficially (which does happen – especially with sites like Glassdoor.com).


(the clip on Facebook is the last few minutes of this TED Talk)


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