Ideas From Google Any HR Pro Can Try

This week I’m reading the new book from Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of People Operations,  called “Work Rules!.” Despite the stereotypes about Google there is actually a lot of good information in this book.


I’m half way through the book and despite the “only at Google” moments I think there is some great information here for any HR practitioner or leader. Below are some ideas you can use to challenge yourself and your team:

1. Directly connect people (especially those that do not deal directly with customers) to the business and in the process show them how they impact the business.  What better way to drive engagement than to show people how their job impacts the big picture? At Google they make it a point to show their online ad sales people how their ads have helped small business customers.  These employees typically spent all day online and rarely heard about how ad sales helped small businesses.  Once they realized the impact they were having the salespeople were thrilled and inspired. Everyone in your company impacts the business, how difficult can it be to illustrate that?

2. Take a data based approach to hiring strategy. Bock lays out some interesting data on two different views on hiring: buying the best talent or identifying great talent and coaching and training them into the best talent.  For Google,  the solution is to spend money up front on attracting, assessing and cultivating (sourcing) new hires. In his view if you have a massive training budget its because you didn’t hire the right people to begin with.  I’m not saying this is a strategy you should apply but it certainly upends many company “strategies.”

I like this challenge to traditional hiring practices and you should at least think about how different your organization would be if you weren’t always looking for a bargain hire and instead focused on hiring the top performers.

3. Hire slowly and try different approaches.  Bock goes into great detail on the evolution of the hiring process at Google. From using billboard puzzles (didn’t work) to staffing firms, to requesting SAT scores, the People Operations team at Google has not been afraid to try different things.  Underlying what can be a lengthy process is a critical belief: hiring slowly benefits the company because it reduces the risk of Google making a bad hire that negatively affects the team. My takeaways: keep trying different methods and track their usefulness. Remember that a toxic hire can have a terrible impact on the team, if you aren’t satisfied with your current slate of hires, slow down and take your time.

4. What is your staffing team focusing on? Screening resumes and scheduling interviews? Or an in-house staffing firm dedicated to cultivating relationships and finding the best candidates? Again, I’m not saying that the Google model is the answer but the idea is to take a look at your current model and challenge yourself. How well do those outside staffing firms really understand your company? What could you do if you took the money you spent on staffing firms and instead spent it on an excellent recruiter?

5. Your best teachers already work for you. Why are you paying for sales training when you already have great sales people that can teach the rest? Bock lays out a great case for utilizing your existing high performers for training opportunities and includes ways to combat resistance you might get.  Bock doesn’t argue against using formal training but he believes the best trainers are those that are on the inside of your organization.


None of the above is really revolutionary (the revolutionary people work at Google is a whole other series of blog posts) but I tell you about it to emphasize that Google starts with some very basic ideas.  Hire good talent. Strive to maintain your culture. Challenge your HR team. Look at core HR processes differently.


I love the emphasis on culture but I’m also concerned about creating a culture that is too insular.  Yes, we want to hire good people that fit but at what point does “fit” become “just like me?” I love the idea of using your best salespeople to train but that assumes your salespeople are the ideal salespeople. I hope that Bock tackles these concerns later in the book.

Check back next week for my final review on Work Rules!

Using Silence Effectivley

Happy St. Patrick’s day all!


Fun fact: Did you know that St. Patrick’s day was not celebrated in Ireland until the 1960’s? Ireland actually spent the day in mourning and bars (gasp!) were closed.  Only in the 1960’s did the country decide to adopt the more “festive” nature of the holiday by following American Irish traditions (click here for the full story).


Today’s post has nothing at all to do with Ireland. In fact, its topic is the opposite of what you can expect in any bar in America today: silence.   Here is a quick snippet:

“As an HR professional using silence effectively  is critical in our day-to-day. For example,  if you are investigating an employee complaint you spend a lot of time interviewing those involved. During interviews it is critical that you let people speak until they are finished and then wait a few seconds before you ask follow up questions.  The five -ten second pause is critical to making sure that the interviewee doesn’t have anything additional to add and if they do, they can speak to it.”


My post is full of other tips on using silence at work. Click over to PIC to read the rest.  


How Do We Improve Job Fairs?


It’s day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge and I’m up early in the AM writing this due to plans yesterday evening. Turns out that if you don’t write your blog posts on the weekend and work full time its hard to blog everyday. Who knew?


Today’s questions asks: “Tell Us About Something You Think Should Be Improved.” I thought of a number of things in the HR space and settled on job fairs. I heard about the awfulness of job fairs from a friend who recently attended one. She is unemployed due to a layoff.


She attended a job fair recently,  brought lots of resumes and no employer took her resume. Instead they told her to apply online. My friend did give her business card to some recruiters and took theirs as a reminder to apply online but was a little disillusioned by the insistence that she apply online.


I listened to this story and understood this differently having been on the recruiting side of the table in the past.  Everything goes through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). You cannot get around the ATS.  


Readers of this blog are familiar with the ATS.  It may be a simple portal that allows candidates to apply, it may be setup with sophisticated screening that includes keyword recognition or “fit” assessments. Either way the ATS is here and at many companies you have to apply through the ATS to get to the interview and get hired.


So now that we don’t accept paper applications and we have a little man sitting in an ATS that scans your resume for keywords what is the point of the job fair? Shouldn’t everyone be searching online and just apply for your job?


Job fair’s aren’t necessarily a waste of time. It helps a company build a presence and recognition in the community. It helps recruiters meet candidates for positions they may not have available right now but could in the future. And it helps candidates learn more about companies in a more relaxed setting then the interview.


A couple ways we can make job fairs better and update them for the 21st century:

  1. Set up laptops, ipads or tablets where applicants can search your jobs at your booth.  Maybe they find something and you can talk with them about their background and they can apply right there.
  2. Update your application for the digital/mobile age.  If you can’t afford ipads/tablets and laptops, encourage your applicants to search for jobs on their phone or tablet but make sure your website and application process is mobile friendly.
  3. Have a space or room set aside where applicants can apply or create an applicant profile in your ATS.  This gets their background and experience into your ATS and you can search later. Of course this only works if you search you ATS for candidates.  
  4. Make your booth memorable.  Instead of the usual trinkets that everyone else has, make your booth a charging station or refresh/snack station.  Offering people free charging and/or food and water draws the crowds and makes you stick out. This works at conferences all the time

Those are my early AM thoughts. What about you? How do you think we can improve the job fair experience?

The Social Side Of Attracting Talent

Disclosure: Post sponsored by Spherion, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.


I love social media. I’ve talked about it, blogged about it and you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram all the time.  But…social media isn’t the end all be all.  You can find guru’s that will tell you about social media’s impact on recruiting and engagement and employee satisfaction but like a lot of “best practices” you have to use these tools wisely.


Today, I’m highlighting research that I think will provide you with insight into not only using social media in your recruiting efforts but also reveal new trends, insights and impacts important for US employers.


 For over 15 years our friends at Spherion have been conducting the Emerging Workforce Study, this years study focuses on the major milestones of the employment lifecycle. The study was conducted by Harris Interactive from February through April of 2014 and surveyed 2,000 employees and 230 HR Managers.


Spherion’s research revealed key intersections between the employee life cycle and important topics in the HR space: social media, job satisfaction, generations and work life balance.


To help those of you who may be unwilling or unable to read through a long research paper (no judgement), Spherion also put together a handy infographic with highlights from the research study which include:


  • 44% of workers believe social media is influential in their view of a company they might work for.
  • 51% of workers agree their company’s online reputation impacts its ability to recruit workers.
  • 46% of workers say when they consider new employment, the company’s online reputation will be as important as any job offer they are given.
  • Less than half (45%) of companies utilize tailored recruitment strategies based on different age groups or professions.
  • Yet, recruiting workers isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Manufacturing workers are mostly likely to land their job through a staffing agency, while accountants rely on professional associations and networking.
  • 51% of highly engaged workers agree strongly with the company’s mission, purpose and vision versus 17% of least engaged workers.
  • 54% of highly engaged workers agree that their company communicates its mission extremely or very effectively, versus 24% of least engaged workers.
  • 59% of highly engaged workers agree that their company follows through on its mission versus 24% of least engaged workers.


Check out the infographic for more information:


For more information on the study click here.

Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Video Interview Do’s and Dont’s

Since I started working from home I am in love with video conferencing. Typically I use it for meetings but recently I decided to use it for interviewing because I wanted to gauge how comfortable candidates are with the technology and to see if it was any better than the traditional phone interview.


Video interviews are pretty similar to phone interviews but the video interview is sometimes better because it is easier to make a personal connection. Video interviewing also forces you to pay 100% attention to the person you are speaking with. This can be good or bad depending on how interesting the person is.


Because video interviewing may be new to some of you I have some tips/tricks for both HR pro’s and candidates. Peruse the lists and let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions/comments.


Candidate Suggestions:

  1. Treat a video interview like an in-person interview. This means:
    1. No phones ringing or buzzing
    2. Dress professionally
  2. Find a quiet place to talk with no distractions. Same with a phone interview: door shut and TV off.
  3. Test your computer/tablet/phone setup. The software I use incudes instructions on the invite to test the software on your computer before the meeting time. You may also want to test your internet connection to see if it can handle an HD video stream. You can do this by doing a test video chat with Google hangouts or on Skype.
  4. Speak directly to the camera. It can be difficult to focus during a video interview because there are a couple screens up at the same time. Don’t worry about how you look, just focus on talking to the camera.


For HR Pro’s:

  1. Start out slow. There are a ton of great products that can help you with your video interviewing needs. But I suggest you start out slow with a low – cost tool. For some companies video interviewing might not be a fit. And that’s okay. Better to find that out after a couple of free skype interviews than after you’ve spent thousands setting up a third party vendor that no one uses.
  2. Be patient – video interviewing is still a new concept for some. Be ready to answer candidate questions that may be of a somewhat technical nature (example: Can I do this interview from my phone?). Make sure you send an email with instructions and technical requirements.
  3. Talk to your IT Group – Many companies already have some kind of video software through Microsoft Office or vendors such as Green Job Interview. Before you buy a new program or set up an interview, find out if there are any restrictions on the software at your company (some company’s block skype (or similar products) because of bandwidth concerns.


Which is better? Video or phone? I preferred the video interview when the candidate and I had a great internet connection. A good internet connection is very important to ensure a smooth conversation. If the internet connection is suspect I suggest sticking with the phone interview.


What do you think? Have you conducted video interviews before? Are they better than phone interviews? Hit me up in the comments with your thoughts!