Monthly Archives: January 2011

How to Create a Branded Career Site in Minutes, For Free

There is a little known online wizard, offered by applicant tracking system myStaffingPro, that allows organizations the ability to setup a branded, SEO (search engine optimized) career portal with just a few clicks.

Steps to Create Portal:

  1. Enter your organization’s contact information via this link: http://mystaffingpro.com/freetrial/freetrial.asp
  2. Click the Proceed to the Next Step button
  3. Now, you’ll be prompted to enter information regarding your profile. In this example, I am setting up a career site for the coffee company, KaffeeScape:
    1. Choose the job site URL. My example: kaffeescape.appone.com
    2. Enter a default location, category & job title
    3. Upload a logo (jpg format)
    4. Choose if you would like to collect EEO information from applicants (Gender & Ethnicity information)
    5. Choose from a variety of web site templates. (I choose the beige “full” layout, 10 different layouts are available, as identified below), and click Submit.

Branded Career Site

Soon, I receive an email letting me know my new career portal is live:

Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Career Site

With a back-end user name and password, I can add jobs and post them to the career site. The jobs are also automatically posted to free job boards Indeed and SimplyHired.

New users can use the portal for free for 30 days. After the 30 days, a user can choose to become a monthly subscription customer of myStaffingPro for as low as $60/month and maintain the portal, as well as gain access to a variety of applicant tracking tools.

It’s a great way to get your own career site up and running quickly, no IT support needed.

Before You Get Excited About the Latest Chain Store, Consider Its Local Impact

I just heard about another couple of chains coming to my hometown.  When I hear people getting excited about this news, I cringe, because I have come to realize the potentially negative impact of chain stores and restaurants on the local economy.

With Chains, Less Money Stays Local
For every $100 spent in locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.  If $100 is spent in a national chain, only $43 stays local.*  Why?  Because national chains usually get their supplies from suppliers chosen at the national level, not locally.  Also, national chains’ profit returns to the corporate office, and, if public, stock-holders all over the world.

It’s Highly Likely They Received Tax Abatements
Most large companies looking to locate in a new place persuade the local governments to give them tax abatements.  That means they aren’t paying property taxes, even though the businesses owned by your neighbors get no such benefit.  So, not only are they not paying into taxes for whatever length of time has been agreed upon, they have an unfair advantage over the locally-owned business who do.

Small Business Creates More Jobs
Over the last 15 years, small businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs.**  Local small business owners are more motivated to keep their workforce employed, since they are their friends, neighbors and customers.   Companies that make decisions at the corporate level, don’t have the peer pressure to keep their workers in tough times.  Instead, the peer pressure is often to create a profit at all costs.  When we spend our dollars at the chains instead of locally owned stores and restaurants, we make it harder for the locals to stay in business.

You might get more than you bargained for when you switch your allegiance to Chain Store  ice cream, and away from the local ice cream shop.  Think carefully before you do so.

* souce: 3/50 Project: http://www.the350project.net/home.html

** source: US Small Business Administration: http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/7495/8420

How to Add Checks & Balances to Your Hiring Process

I’ve been a part of hundreds of applicant tracking system implementations (via myStaffingPro), and the most successful hiring organizations take advantage to technology to add some checks and balances into their hiring process, ensuring that the people involved in the hiring process are following the organization’s hiring guidelines.  Below are some suggestions that have been successful for many organizations:

Use Pre-Screening Questions
A simple way to enforce basic qualifications is to build a pre-screening questionnaire into the online application.  Take your time, and determine those qualifications that are a “must have” for each job type, such as eligibility to work in the job location country, minimum age requirements, minimum education requirements, etc.  Mark the answers that are instant knock-outs as disqualifiers.  In the ATS, the candidates that fall into those knock-outs will be assigned a specific status.

Limit the Applicant Statuses Hiring Managers Can View
Configure the Hiring Manager Portal to only display applicants that fall within “pre-qualified” statuses.  With some organizations, the statuses include only those applicants who have been manually vetted by the HR team.  Other organizations will allow hiring managers to view any applicant that passed the pre-screening questions.  Some go as far as to require the applicant to pass an assessment before the applicant appears on the Hiring Manager Portal.   Just be sure your limitations don’t negatively impact your AAP goals.

Enforce Status Progression
Limit the next status your users can advance an applicant to.  For example, if the applicant is in the stage “Application Complete”, s/he can only be advanced to “HR – Reviewed – Qualified” or “HR – Reviewed – Not Qualified”.  The applicant can’t immediately be jumped from “Application Complete” to “Hired.”  This functionality makes a hiring manager stop and think before skipping important hiring process steps. (Of course, allow at least one administrator the ability to jump stages).

Limit Export to HRIS Until Verifications Are Complete
If your organization enforces that a background check is complete before the new hire’s start date can be assigned, limit the system to not export to HRIS until a valid background check, or other verification, is on file. 

One of the great advantages of technology is the ability to help us make better choices.  With just a little planning, and a powerful applicant tracking system, you can build automatic checks and balances, resulting in the enforcement of hiring policies, and ultimately, better quality hires.

What’s So Great About Netflix?

As I continue my examination of mega-popular web applications, I’m hoping to glean some insights that can be applied to HR Technology.  My next target is Netflix – purveyor of movies on demand.  Did its web application contribute to its success?  Let’s examine what attracted so many users.

It Works
Not only was its concept of sending videos through mail ground-breaking because of the speed at which they were delivered to customers, Netflix’s ability to stream consistent video over a variety of internet devices and connections has attracted large numbers of loyal customers.  I must admit that I’m one of them.  I am amazed at the quality of the video streamed over my Playstation 3, or laptop.  If I try to watch the same video of a TV show, for example, on the network’s web site, it is usually choppy or takes 5 years to load.

Singular Focus
The concept of the “movie queue” is simple and attractive to users.  The web site focuses on videos (movies, TV, etc.).  That’s it.

Easy to Use
My kids caught on to it too quickly.  Soon I was getting “Scooby Doo” sent to me in the mail instead of my latest choice.  So easy a 5 year old could do it.  I wonder if they tested the app with 5 year olds?

To be fair to the HR Technology arena, we don’t have the luxury of just being able to focus on one thing.  HR is a complex field.  However, focusing on the user and what is important to him/her is key.  In an applicant tracking system, each user has his own focus.  Is the interface for that user centered around that focus?

What Makes Google So Great?

Google is one of the biggest success stories of the dot net boom.  What is it about the software that attracts millions of users?

It Works
When a user enters a keyword into Google, she trusts that the results displayed are very thorough, and that Google has delved into the depths of the world wide web.  Google was arguably the first search engine to bring such powerful software to its users.

It’s Transparent
Google doesn’t filter the data based on a guess of what you want (at least not without telling you first).  You decide what to filter on.  Plus, it doesn’t sneak ads in among the data, making it hard to discern between sponsored information and “organic” searches.  Sources of information are clearly labeled.

Little Brain Effort Required
The user doesn’t have to understand exactly what he is looking for to find information.  He can use Google without having to think.

Simplicity & Ease of Use
Like facebook, Google streamlines it’s user interface to require no training, and to hide advanced features from the novice user. 

Many other factors have attributed to its success as a company, the above just touches on the success of the software.  Google raised the bar all of the other software companies must strive to achieve.  Are we there yet?

What is it About Facebook That Caused Its Rapid Adoption?

What is it about Facebook that caused its rapid adoption?  There isn’t ground-breaking technology behind facebook.  Technically speaking, it’s a pretty basic web site.  So where does its success come from?

Simplicity
To setup an account, you just have to enter an email, name and password. You are then ready to go. You can import your contacts, and immediately find some friends.

Ease of Use
Anyone can use it, no training required. Because many of its advanced features are hidden from the novice user, s/he isn’t overwhelmed by too many options.

It Connects Us
A basic human need is to feel connected.  Facebook meets that need, with minimum effort on the user.  Communication is its primary function, and we all love to communicate.

It Pushes the Data to Me
I don’t have to go out and search for the data I want (thought I can), it pushes my friends conversations, photos and events to me.  How easy is that?

It Promotes “Me”
We all want to feel special, and share part of ourselves with our friends and acquaintences, and facebook does that.  It helps us feel good about ourselves.  We can “show-off” without really showing off, just by uploading a few pictures, or typing a few words.  And by the way… they are very wise to have a Like button, but not a Dislike button. 

Peer Pressure
Yes, peer pressure has played a part in its success.  The question, “Are you on facebook?” has encouraged many reluctant users to join.  The ability to easily email a friend from facebook encouraging him/her to join has helped too.

All of these features and benefits can be integrated into business software as well, and wise technology companies will do so.  (At myStaffingPro, we do just that for HR folks).

You Can’t Please ‘Em All

My daughter read me this story last night. She was telling me about her day, and how when she sits with one group of friends at lunch, the other group gets mad at her, and vice versa. She can’t seem to get them to sit together either. I reminded her that she can’t please everyone. She then googled this Aesop fable and shared it with me:

The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

“Please all, and you will please none.”

Alternative tagline that I thought was more to the point: “Try to please everyone and you’ll end up losing your a** in the process!”

It’s especially true of life. We can’t have peace until we stop trying to please others. We can love others, listen to others, share with others, but it must come out of our own desires, not some impossible standard someone else has set for us.

I wonder how that fits within software development? We need to take in user feedback, perform usability testing, listen to the market’s demands, but in the end, we have to produce something our heart tells us is “it.” That “it” factor differentiates the innovators from the status quo.

Source of Fable