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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 the state and local level 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.  And 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).  Yes, there are exceptions.  But by and large, employers don’t need any of this information about an applicant.  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.  So, if an employer doesn’t plan to use certain information to make a hiring decision, it shouldn’t ask for it.

The Americans with Disabilities Act 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.

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WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: Interesting Hiring Statistics from Inc. Magazine

1. The 5 things job seekers take into account before accepting a job offer,

from most to least important, are: 1) salary and compensation, 2) career growth opportunities, 3) work-life balance, 4) location/commute, and 5) company culture and values.

2. 79 percent of job seekers use social media in their job search

The figure increases to 86 percent of  job seekers who are in the first 10 years of their careers.

3. Nearly 2 in 3 employees say their employer does not–or does not know how to–use social media to promote job openings

And 3 in 4 say their employer does not–or does not know how to–promote their employment brand on social media.

4. The 3 things that most matter to Millennials in the companies they work for:

1) growth opportunities, 2) retirement benefits, and 3) work culture.

5. Most Millennials (64%) would rather make $40K a year at a job they love than $100K a year at a job they think is boring

And nearly 80 percent of Millennials look at people and culture fit with prospective employers, followed by career potential.

6. 69 percent of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation–even if unemployed

And 84 percent would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation.

7. Increasing employee engagement investments by 10 percent can increase company profits by $2,400 per employee per year

And 70 percent of employees who lack confidence in the abilities of senior leadership are not fully engaged.

{from Inc. magazine online}

WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: Pay vs. Fun on the Job

fact graphic fun v pay

TIP TUESDAY: Top Hiring Tips from HR Professionals, for HR Professionals

by Miranda Nicholson, director of HR, Formstack

Every HR professional knows there’s a lot that goes into recruiting behind the scenes. Where do you find the perfect candidate for a role? What criteria does each individual need to meet before they receive the opportunity to interview? What interview questions will show you how they might perform as an employee? And, if they’re hired, how do you know if they’ll fit well with other employees in your organization?

With all these factors (and more) in play, it’s no wonder that hiring is one of the top HR challenges faced by Human Resources professionals across the globe. To better understand how organizations overcome the hiring challenge, we asked HR professionals with different backgrounds for some of their best tips on hiring the right employee for a role. They gave us some outstanding insights and advice on different pieces of the recruitment puzzle, which we narrowed down into three main takeaways. While there’s no simple solution, putting more effort into these parts of your recruiting process is a great way to get started.

1. Define What ‘Fit’ Means to Your Organization

Hiring for fit is an obvious part of the recruiting process, but few organizations actually take the time to identify what “fit” means for them. To get started, Mike Bensi, advisor at FirstPerson, suggests considering these key questions:

  1. What are the core values that make up your company’s culture?
  2. What kind of behaviors do employees need to be successful in your organization?
  3. What kind of behaviors might signify a red flag?

Brainstorm with employees on your team or in your organization to get a strong sense of culture, success, and overall fit. Answering questions like these will help you build a unique value proposition for your company’s recruiting experience and can become a solid framework for your interview process.

2. Create an Experience that Defines Your Recruiting Brand

As a representative of your organization, Michelle Rodriguez, HR manager for the Indianapolis Colts, says the candidate experience is very important and can make a major impact on your talent brand. Stringing candidates along without consistent communication is frustrating and unfair to them. Your recruiting brand will suffer if they share their negative impressions of your company with others. On the other hand, candidates who receive a great experience with timely and intentional communication can become advocates for your organization even if they aren’t hired.

3. Build Relationships to Expand Your Talent Pool

Even if your company has low employee turnover, it’s important to maintain a deep talent pool to draw from so you’re prepared whenever the need arises. Karin Gorman, president of the consulting division at Staff America Inc., encourages companies that struggle to find high quality candidates to reconsider their candidate sources.

Building relationships with candidate sourcing organizations will help you fill your hiring funnel with candidates that have the skills and experience necessary for the job. For example, if you’re looking for a skilled graphic designer, connect with a local art college or institute.

Once you establish a connection with those organizations, continue to foster the relationship through consistent communication, even when you don’t have job openings. This takes time but is absolutely worthwhile in the long run. If all else fails, consider partnering with a staffing agency that can help you fill those skilled roles.

Miranda Nicholson is the director of HR at Formstack, overseeing the acquisition, onboarding, and retention of current and to-be Formstackers. Read more.

WORKFACT WEDNESDAY: Women in the Global Work Force

Even as globalization has brought millions of women into the paid labor market, the number of women in the workforce is far behind that of men. Gender inequalities have also concentrated women at the bottom of the global value chain — in the lowest paid jobs, in piece-rate, subcontracted work, and insecure forms of self-employment, with little or no access to decent work and social protection. Women are half the world’s potential and unleashing it requires access to decent, good-quality paid work as well as gender-sensitive policies and regulations, such as adequate parental leave and flexible hours.

The economics make sense, too: If women played an identical role in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to the global annual Gross Domestic Product by 2025.