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TIP TUESDAY: What Do Employers Really Need to Know About Job Applicants?

Employers invest significant time, energy, and resources in bringing a new employee onboard.  Recruiting, screening, and interviewing processes are all done with the goal of hiring an employee who will do a job well and work well within an organization.  So what do employers need to know to hire successfully?  And what are the things employers don’t need to know?

Need to Know:

Experience.  Does the applicant have relevant work experience (or other experience)?

Education.  Will the applicant’s education help him or her do the job?

Personality.  Does the applicant have the motivation, energy, and attitude that’s needed for the job?  For the organization?  Note—employers shouldn’t always look for an applicant who will “fit in.”  Sometimes the right person for the job is someone who will shake things up, bring a new perspective, or reenergize a team or department.

Not So Much:

Credit score. It’s apparent from recent legislation on state and local levels that employers don’t need to know whether an applicant has a good credit score—at least for most jobs.  The District of Columbia is the jurisdiction that most recently enacted a law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their credit history.  It joins 11 states that have similar laws. Generally, the laws allow employers to inquire about an applicant’s credit history if the job involves unsupervised access to large sums of money or to customers’ financial information.

Pay history. A new state law in Massachusetts and a new ordinance in Philadelphia prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s pay history; similar legislation is pending in other states and municipalities, including New York City, where a bill approved by the city council awaits the mayor’s signature. Basing an employee’s pay on pay history instead of the market value of the position can be a disadvantage to workers who entered the workforce at a lower pay rate; and it can perpetuate gender-based pay disparities.

Not Right Away:

Criminal history. Several states and numerous cities and counties have enacted “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application. Many require employers to delay these questions until after an applicant has been offered a job.

Not At All!

Protected characteristics. It’s a rare job that requires a job applicant to be of a certain age, race, color, religion, national origin, or sex (think female actor for a female role). If employers ask for information, it’s because they want the information. And if they want the information, it’s because they’re going to use the information.  At least, that’s what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “generally presumes” about an employer’s questions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions that are likely to elicit information about a disability before a conditional job offer has been extended.  Employers should avoid questions about an applicant’s history of using sick leave, history of hospitalizations, workers’ comp claims, etc.  Questions should be limited to whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

To get the information it needs while avoiding information that’s irrelevant (and possibly unlawful), an employer should focus on the qualifications for the job in question and make inquiries that will help it evaluate how the applicant’s skills and experience align with those qualifications.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: First Star Wars Movie (Episode 4) Opens

(from The History Channel online)

Star Ware posterOn this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opened with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away.” By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.

Star Wars was soon a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon. Over the years it has spawned five more feature films, five TV series and an entire industry’s worth of comic books, toys, video games and other products. Two big-screen sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), featured much of the original cast and enjoyed the same success–both critical and commercial–as the first film. In 1999, Lucas stretched back in time for the fourth installment, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, chronologically a prequel to the original movie. Two other prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) followed.

The latter Star Wars movies featured a new cast–including Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen–and have generally failed to earn the same amount of critical praise as the first three films. They continue to score at the box office, however, with Revenge of the Sith becoming the top-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the second worldwide.

WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: Which occupations are expected to see greatest growth?

Much of U.S. job growth over the past 35 years has been in occupations that require higher levels of education, training and experience,jobs according to a recently released Pew Research Center report. And based on our analysis of official government job-growth projections, that trend seems likely to continue.

Employment in occupations requiring average to above-average levels of preparation – a metric that combines formal education, on-the-job training and prior related experience – is expected to grow 7.9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to nearly 6 million of the 9.7 million jobs predicted to be added over that time. Employment in occupations requiring below-average preparation, on the other hand, is projected to grow by only 5.1%, or the equivalent of about 3.7 million jobs. (The BLS projects overall 2014-24 job growth at 6.5%.)

The differences in projected growth were even more pronounced when looking at social skills, which Pew Research Center defines as encompassing interpersonal skills, written and spoken communication skills, and management or leadership skills. Employment in occupations that require average to above-average levels of such social skills is projected to grow by 8.1%, versus just 4.4% growth for occupations requiring below-average levels of those skills.

Click here to read the full Pew Research report

TIP TUESDAY: 13 Tips to Stay Motivated in the Dog Days of Summer

from Entrepeneur magazine

You may not want to admit it, but you’re probably longing to take a dip in a pool instead of working. Unfortunately, an entrepreneur’s 24/7 work schedule rarely allows for much of a summer break.

So, we went to the experts, including pro athletes, authors, happiness experts and, of course, entrepreneurs, to find out what they do to recharge. Read on for 13 ways to stay inspired to work hard this summer and even cull out a few minutes to decompress.

1. Power through it.
“It’s tempting to take a break, to slow things down in the dog days of summer. But there’s somebody out there who wants to be in your place. That person might be working on the next big thing that will compete with your business.

2. Make a (reasonable) list.
“Every night, jot down the things you need to get done the next day. Try to move through all of them, but if you don’t, just add them to the next day’s to-do list. Keep the list manageable during the summer and get a bit done every day.

3. Create your own “quitting time.”
“It’s tempting to work around the clock or at least to feel that you should be working–and that means that you don’t have a feeling of leisure. By telling yourself, ‘After 7:30, no more work’ or ‘Sunday is a day off,’ you ensure that you get the rest and relaxation that are crucial to being productive. I remind myself, ‘To keep going, I have to allow myself to stop.'”–Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (Harper Perennial, 2009) and the forthcoming, Happier at Home (Crown Archetype, 2012)

Click here to read the other 10 tips in the article in Entrepreur magazine 

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Robert Owen, Father of Personnel Management

Born May 14, 1771, social and educational reformer Robert Owen, is generally referred to as the father of personnel management. The Human Resources field evolved first in 18th century Europe from a simple idea by Robert Owen and Charles Babbage during the industrial revolution. These men knew that people were crucial to the success of an organization. They expressed that the well being of employees led to perfect work. Without healthy workers, the organization would not survive. HR later emerged as a specific field in the early 20th century, influenced by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915). Taylor explored what he termed “scientific management” others later referred to “Taylorism”, striving to improve economic efficiency in manufacturing jobs. He eventually keyed in on one of the principal inputs into the manufacturing process—labor—sparking inquiry into workforce productivity.

Meanwhile, in England C S Myers, inspired by unexpected problems among soldiers which had alarmed generals and politicians in the First World War, set up a National Institute of Industrial Psychology, planting the seeds for the human relations movement, which on both sides of the Atlantic built on the research through the Hawthorne studies (1924-1932) and others how stimuli, unrelated to financial compensation and working conditions, could yield more productive workers.

Having profited enormously from enterprise in the early Industrial Revolution, Robert Owen set about trying to remedy its excesses through environmental, educational, factory and law reform. Synthesizing reformist ideas from the Age of Enlightenment and drawing on his own experience as an industrialist he constructed A New View of Society (1816), a rallying call for widespread social change, with education at its core. His New Lanark cotton mills, the test-bed for his ideas, became internationally famous.

Owen had raised the demand for  ten-hour day in year 1810, and instituted it in his cotton mills. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan “8 hours labor, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours full rest.” The eight-hour day movement forms part of the early history for the celebration of the Labor Day, and May Day in many nations and cultures.

Working Conditions

Owen’s extremely advanced system of factory management, which he pioneered at the New Lanark,  gained him credibility, not only as a successful businessman, but also as a benevolent employer. He proved that commercial success could be achieved without exploitation of those employed; his approach to social and economic organization was extended beyond the mill floor into every aspect of village life.

“Eight hours’ daily labor is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food, raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time, every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep”. (Foundation Axioms of Owen’s “Society for Promoting National Regeneration”, 1833)

Women
Robert Owen’s views had particular appeal for women. At a time when men were hostile to women’s rights, he courted controversy by denouncing marriage, as it then existed, as a form of slavery for women. “Women will be no longer made the slaves of, or dependent upon men…. They will be equal in education, rights, privileges and personal liberty”. (Book of the New Moral World: Sixth Part, 1841)