Thursday, November 30, 2006

Are you LinkedIn?

If you haven't heard of LinkedIn, now's the time to check it out.

What is it? It's a networking site--similar but not identical to many others you've probably seen, such as MySpace.

Why should you care? A number of reasons.

First, unlike sites like MySpace or Facebook, it's devoted to business connections. This isn't about posting pictures of your dog, it's about finding talented people to develop business relationships with.

Second, it's the most popular of these types of websites, which includes sites like Spoke and Ryze. Take a look at its traffic trend.

Third, it has more than 8 million members, 4 million of whom are outside the U.S. That's a large pool to draw from--for job applicants, for connecting with colleagues, for whatever.

Fourth, because a lot of recruiters already have found it. The company estimates it has 60,000 recruiters combing its database. A recent article in Business 2.0 profiled Glenn Gutmacher, a recruiter who spends up to an hour a day on LinkedIn combing through his 3,500 contacts to reach approximately 3.5 million potential hires for Microsoft.

Anyone can join for free, but you have to invite someone to be part of their network. There are a number of tutorial-type videos on YouTube, like this one.

This is another place to source (at a cost), but beyond that I think this is a great opportunity for recruitment and assessment professionals to find each other. If you sign in, look me up. I promise I'll accept the invite.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Background checks lead to...hiring more African Americans?

person questioning
From the "that's counter-intuitive" file comes a study in the October issue of the Journal of Law and Economics.

The researchers crunched survey data from over 3,000 establishments in four U.S. metropolitan areas -- Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles. There are quite a few interesting results in this paper, but perhaps the most eye-popping one is that employers that did a criminal background check for the most recently filled position were MORE likely to hire an African American applicant. Specifically, 8.5% more likely (statistically significant at the .01 level for you stat geeks).

"Well, okay, sure, but that's because of the position being filled. The jobs that require criminal background checks are more likely to have African American applicants," you say. (Or at least, that's what I said) And that's true. But here's the thing: the result sticks even after controlling for proportion of black applicants.

So what's going on? The researchers conclude that this is evidence that in the absence of cold, hard, data folks fall back on discriminatory decision making styles.

What do I think? I think I'm going to spend the $6 to buy the article. And I think this could provide additional support for doing background checks. Just make sure you know what you're doing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New issue of JOOP

The December issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology is out so let's take a look.

First up, an article about reactions to performance feedback. Unfortunately the sample is not described (nor the measures) but the results were that leaders who received numerical/normative feedback responded better than did leaders who received text feedback--regardless of the source. Support, perhaps, for the typical practice in assessment of providing numerical scores; I'm guessing more important than type is whether feedback is provided at all, which we know is so important for feelings of procedural justice.

The next article that looks interesting is a study of teams and whether a multidisciplinary group is necessarily the best bet in all cases. The study of health care workers found that having a multidisciplinary team was related to success if defined as quality of innovations generated but not number of innovations generated.

Next up is a study of almost 52,000 school teachers in Israel. The research question? The impact of promotions on absences. The findings? The higher the person was promoted (in terms of level), the greater the decrease in absences. This impact was stronger for individuals with less tenure. Conclusion? If someone's having an abscene problem, promote them as high in the organization as you can (a little Thanksgiving Day humor for you, there).

Last but not least is a longitudinal study of 54 British symphony orchestra members (apparently a notoriously difficult group to study). Looks to me like the qualitative interview data yielded some rich information regarding the musicians' motivations and commitments. I'm always looking for good job analysis information; if you're sourcing or hiring for musicians this could give you some fresh perspectives.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Unproctored online testing

There's a very interesting thread going on over at IPMAAC's listserv about the appropriate and potential use of unproctored internet testing that started with this post from Eric Palmer from the City of Forth Worth.

Some of the back-and-forth has been about how common unproctored internet testing is (which says something about the profession's knowledge of its own practices), but the more interesting aspects have to do with candidate perception, logistics, reliability, and validity.

IMHO internet testing, along with modular testing, is the future of professional assessment for many hiring scenarios, particularly as we move more and more towards an employment society based on knowledge work and providing services. You simply cannot beat the utility of administering quality on-line exams--regardless of how you verify the scores (seems to me the best way is to re-administer similar items to the final candidate pool).

That said, decisions regarding how to assess should always be based on the KSAs/competencies required by the job and operational needs. But the ability to gather and track data, the ability to quickly link test results with job performance and other candidate information, and the flexibility of a "one stop shop" for testing simply cannot be ignored.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Job tenure part deux


Remember a few posts ago I wrote about thinking carefully about job tenure when evaluating candidates?

Well, a new survey out from Robert Half International shows many managers are stuck in the old days.

87% of 1,400 CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies said length of time a candidate spent with previous employers was very or somewhat important important when evaluating that candidate.

Now those you that like to poke holes in numbers will sagely point out that this 87% figure is actually made up of 42% who said "Very important" and 45% "Somewhat important" and because no one knows what "somewhat" means, the 87% figure is probably inflated in importance.

But even still. Almost half of respondents are obviously paying attention to previous job tenure. And in so doing, making many incorrect judgments.

Predicting job performance is hard enough, even with a rigorously conducted job analysis and a sophisticated assessment center. Whenever you get human judgment involved sans data to back it up, trouble ensues.

Paying attention to job tenure rather than possession of critical competencies is like choosing a house based on the exterior paint color. Remember, we know that amount of job experience correlates weakly with job performance. In fact where it does the best job is in the first five years--meaning anything after five years likely gets you zip. And that's for medium complexity jobs--for low-complexity jobs five years is overestimating.

To make matters worse, more job experience, at the same employer, may indicate a lack of will or ability to promote. And that's what you're rewarding?

This is the problem with resumes. And snap judgments. Take interviews, for example. Research shows interviewers make judgments within seconds about the quality of candidates. But that doesn't necessary mean they're right. Allow me to quote from Malcolm Gladwell's recent book, Blink: "The first impression becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we hear what we expect to hear. The interview is hopelessly biased in favor of the nice."

When it comes to sound assessment, there are no short cuts. Time must be spent--at the front end (determining job competencies) and during the hiring process. Good results take time and effort--it's that simple, and that challenging.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Updated: Las Vegas Metro PD taps applicant family members

The most recent IPMA-HR News reports that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) was awarded the "HR Innovations in the Public Sector" grant from IPMA-HR and CPS.

The $25,000 grant is for a LVMPD program called Household Inclusion Recruitment and Employment, or HIRE, and it's quite interesting and potentially controversial.

The idea is LVMPD will ask job applicants to complete a short supplemental questionnaire to describe the "composition, names, ages, interests and employment needs" of immediate family members. An HR staff member will then contact and speak directly with family members looking for a job to see if there's an opportunity within LVMPD.

The recruitment assistant would also "determine the family's hobbies, interests, religious or civic affiliations, long term goals, and other factors that could become an obstacle or an aid to employment within the department."

The idea seems to be to remove barriers that might prevent a qualified applicant from joining the agency, and to increase the pool of talent.

Here are my thoughts:

1) It is indeed innovative. Although attempts have been made to take advantage of professional networks to identify talent, I know of little effort being made to take advantage of family or personal relationships. It occurs to me that creating and sourcing networks in this way has huge potential. In fact I'm surprised no one has tried to create a more formalized network among employed individuals (e.g., you're not interested in the job but your buddy who works down the hall might be).

2) I see some potential privacy and discrimination complaints emerging from this. I'm sure the questionnaire is voluntary, but any time you ask people to identify things like religion or civic affiliations yer just askin' for trouble, IMHO.

3) This could be the best thing for nepotism since changing one's last name. Nepotism's already a huge problem in many public sector organizations--from both merit and morale standpoints. I don't see this program helping.

It will be very interesting to see where this goes, and I truly wish them luck with it as I happen to know some of the LVMPD HR folks and I'm sure their hearts are in the right place. Just be careful what you ask for.

Update: Check out LVMPD's advertising campaign.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The moderator problem

Months, maybe years, are spent analyzing a job (or jobs), talking with subject matter experts, documenting, carefully creating assessment instruments, and administering exams in a standardized manner. You gather performance data post-hire, run your correlations, and...wham! Your numbers look terrible. You're not predicting anything.

The test(s) didn't work...right? Maybe, maybe not.

The "holy grail" of test validity is showing a strong correlation between how someone did on the test(s) and how they perform on the job. This type of evidence is often referred to as "criterion-related validity."

Sounds great, but there are some big hurdles to jump when collecting this type of data. I'll mention three.

First we have to grapple with what is considered "strong." In some circles the correlations lauded in professional selection would be scoffed at. For example, .3 is often considered to be a respectable value (e.g., DOL's guide).

Second is what has been called "the criterion problem". This phrase covers quite a bit of ground, but the essential idea is when we measure job performance, there are a few questions to be asked and answered. What is "performance"--number of customers helped? Opinions of supervisors? Extra-role behaviors? More than one of these? All of these? How do we measure performance? Number of customers helped per hour? Supervisory performance ratings? If you use ratings, what factors are rated, using what rating scales?

Third, what, and how, will you correlate with test score? A single rating? Multiple ratings, combined somehow? Will you be correcting any of the statistics for (un)reliability, range restriction, etc.?

Related to these issues is what I'll call the moderator problem. We know that many factors go into job performance, not just someone's competencies they bring to the job. These include things like motivation, mood, and home life on the employee's side and supervisor, co-workers, physical work environment, and resources on the part of the organization--just to name a few.

So here's the deal: Your job analysis may be sound. Your tests may be great. Your pass point(s) perfect. The problem could be something entirely different--it could be something happened with the individual(s) being measured that had nothing to do with work. It could be that it had everything to do with work--say, a horrible supervisor, or unsupportive co-workers.

The point is that the information is not being captured, assumptions are being made, and a lot of hard work may be thrown out. Simply because we're not taking a broad picture of job performance.

How do we solve this problem? Think very carefully before using criteria correlation as a source of support for tests. Don't simply plug numbers into Excel and run the correlation. We need to think about what aspects of performance really are important for the job--just like we thought about competencies. We need to measure in a way that captures these important aspects. Above all, we need to treat this exercise as a complex procedure--because it is.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The great recruiting discrimination debate

computer making sound

Just had a chance to listen to a webinar from back in May called "The Great Recruiting Discrimination Debate."

If you haven't watched/listened to it, I highly recommend it. It's one of the best I've heard. It gives very specific examples of discrimination both large and small and has a wonderful panel of folks including both recruiters and EEOC staff. It focuses quite a bit on the obligation of recruiters to refrain from discriminating on behalf of clients.

You can access it by clicking here and clicking on "Watch the Webinar." Note that you may need to disable your pop-up blocker (in IE you can do this simply by pressing and holding CTRL then clicking on the link).

The second round happened on November 14th and I'm hoping they'll post that soon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New issue of I.J.S.A.

Must be new journal time! First J.A.P., now the International Journal of Selection and Assessment's December issue is hot off the presses.

So what are the highlights? Let's look:

First, an article by Levashina and Campion on faking behavior during employment interviews. They review the research and propose a model to guide future studies.

Next, a research study by Birkeland, et al. meta-analyzing faking of personality measures. Main findings? Applicants inflate their scores compared to non-applicants (not surprising) and these differences were larger on direct Big 5 measures. (Doesn't change the fact that these inventories have been shown to predict job performance.)

Next up, another research study, this one by Harold, et al., analyzing how verifiability of biodata items impacted results among a sample of call center incumbents and applicants. Findings? Again, no shocker here--verifiable items won out. Interestingly, the mean scores were not significantly different between the two groups.

Here's where things get (more) interesting. The next piece is an article by Van Iddekinge et al. looking at rating face-to-face (f2f) versus videotaped interviews. Using a simulated selection setting, the researchers found f2f interviews received higher scores compared to video interviews of the same people. In addition, the correlation between f2f and video interviews was pretty low (r=.31) compared to correlations among raters of the same f2f interviewee (r=.73).

Next up, a study by Krause et al. of promotions into a training academy for high-level executive positions in German police departments. The authors found that scores on a 2-day assessment center added significant prediction power (of academy scores) above and beyond cognitive ability tests.

Second to last, an article by Dancer & Woods (sounds like a singing group) analyzing the 16PF (Fifth Edition) and FIRO-B factor structures. Using a sample of over 4,000 executive assessments over a 9 year period, the authors found support for a five-factor structure for the 16PF but did not find support for a three-factor structure on the FIRO-B. A sixth factor, Social Independence, emerged when analyzing the two measures in combination.

Finally, the last study is by Thomas Timmerman and investigates (not for the first time) the issue of criterion validity of narrow v. broad personality trait measurement. The sample included 203 call center employees (these poor call center employees, always being guinea pigs) and results provided support for Extraversion and Openness to Experience predicting turnover, but also support for several narrower facets.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New issue of J.A.P.

open book

The November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology is out.

There's not as much in this issue about recruitment and assessment as usual, but let's see what we've got:

1) An article by Dr. Alexander Stajkovic further developing his idea of "core confidence." Dr. Stajkovic suggests that core confidence predicts performance, attitudes, and subjective well being in a way not addressed by current work motivation theories. This article (like nearly all JAP articles) is not on-line, but some of his other pieces are available here.

2)A piece by Stephen Stark, et al. that looks at identifying items that exhibit differential item functioning (DIF). The method they review can be used with both traditional items as well as IRT.

3) An article by Morgeson and Humphrey describing what they call the Work Design Questionnaire. Basically another instrument for potential use in analyzing and describing jobs. Looks like a draft of this document is available here and some of Dr. Morgeson's presentations are available over here.

4) Finally, a study of the effects of skew on coefficient alpha.


They've had HOW many jobs?

train tracks switching

One of the most common holdovers from the work world of yesteryear is that staying in the same job for a long time shows loyalty, and moving from job to job frequently indicates disloyalty, or worse--flakiness.

Well, it's just ain't so anymore. In the mid-70s people spent about eight years at one job. Now it's about four years.

And how many jobs do you think the average American has before retirement? Try seven.

I've heard hiring supervisors bemoan the fact that kids these days just don't stick with a job. And they're right--among 20-34 year olds, the average job tenure is only 2 years. But this isn't necessarily a negative.

I usually ask this question: Would you rather have a stellar employee for 2 years or a nightmare for 10? People these days, particularly the younger demographic, switch jobs a lot for many reasons:

1) Because they can--the unemployment rate is low, and barring some economic disaster this will continue to be the case in many sectors.

2) Because they're looking for a variety of experiences. In some fields (e.g., IT) things change so often that you literally can't get a well rounded resume WITHOUT changes jobs frequently.

3) Because they get bored. Yes, this is a luxury of the current job market, but the reality is it's up to supervisors to keep their staff challenged--and not just younger workers, but everyone. We live in a fast-paced society with tons of information streaming at us constantly. If you don't let people get creative and use their strengths to guide them in new directions, they'll go with someone who will.

Be warned, however: Job switching CAN indicate performance problems, which is why we always do thorough reference checks.

For more related stats, check out the BLS.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Smorgasbord


Lots of good stuff today...

Rate thyself
Not that we needed another reason to question self-ratings, but according to a recent Hudson survey of 1,854 U.S. workers, 92% of managers consider themselves to be an excellent or good boss. These must be the folks that are having the Lake Wobegon children.

The same survey showed that 26% of managers felt they did not receive sufficient training for their positions, only 54% of workers who felt they would be offered a supervisory job actually wanted it (more likely among men and those with children at home), and only half of workers felt they regularly were told about strategic and organizational changes.

Hidden talent pool
Most HR folks know this (or should), but people with disabilities are dramatically unemployed in the U.S. (about 30-40% of those that want to work aren't). In my experience affirmative steps to hire those with disabilities primarily comes in the form of "bonus points" or special programs to highlight those with disabilities. It would not surprise me if this had a stigmatizing effect, as programs like this often lead to question like, "Do I HAVE to hire the person with a disability/veteran/other under-represented group?" The focus should be on merit, and some statistics cited in the above article can be used to highlight this sector of the workforce: namely, accommodation costs are usually low (under $500), turnover among individuals with disabilities is much lower, and attendance is on par or better, as is job performance.

Worker shortages
Speaking of employment...debate continues to rage about current and projected labor shortages in the U.S. This article mentions trucking, welding, and restaurant jobs as some of the most in need of workers, but what caught my eye was a quote from a gentleman from the Center for Immigration Studies, who points out that there are lots of unemployed folks willing to take jobs--just not at the wages employers are offering. In my experience it's a bit more complex than that.

Yes, there are situations (particularly in the public sector, and particularly for state government ; see pages 12-15) where wages aren't competitive, but consider:

1) There are many jobs where they are; and

2) In many cases it's not finding people, it's finding qualified people.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hiring presentation

Just got a copy of a presentation I did in July down in Clark County (for those not familiar with WA, Clark County is just north of Portland, OR). The presentation is about 2 hours long and covers a variety of topics, including legal aspects of hiring, best practices, applicant perceptions, utility, etc. PLUS, a game of jeopardy at the end. (How many presentations can say THAT).

A few notes before you watch it (because I know you're dying to!):

1. Only people with a microphone are clearly audible. In the vast majority of the video, this is me, although I try to repeat peoples' questions and comments.

2. This is actually four separate video (VOB) files that I spliced into one. So there may be some rough transition spots.

3. The quality is passable but not outstanding--I tried to keep the file size manageable but still visible/audible. Some of the footnotes aren't visible but I'm more than happy to post those.

4. On a related point, the audio is slightly detached from the video. Instead of being frustrated by this, try to see it as a fascinating experiment in perception.

Let me know if you have any comments or long as it's not about my fashion sense.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

New blog format & apologies

You may notice some changes to the blog format. This is because I just switched to Blogger Beta .

Why? Several reasons:

1) Blogger now allows you to label your posts--if you look at the sidebar on the right you'll see a new "Labels" section. This allows me to tag posts with subjects and allows you to filter posts by only that label.

2) It allows easier changes to the template. Blogger Beta allows you to drag and drop
widgets .

3) Posting and updating is now faster.

4) There are more feed options.

5) It's linked to my Google account, not to a separate Blogger account, making account access easier.

BUT all these changes come with a price: these posts may get republished and you may get posts that you've already received, now with labels. So I apologize about that.

That's pretty much it. Hope you like the changes. Oh, and one last thing: I changed the comment protections so now you don't have to be a member of Blogger to post a comment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New rules for electronic document discovery

As of December 1, 2006, several amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will become effective.

Why do we care? Because they have to do with discovery of electronic documents.

And why do we care about that? Because
increasingly electronic evidence is becoming a key issue in lawsuits, on both plaintiff and defense sides.

You can read
more about these changes but I'll cover the high points:

1) These changes won't alter existing practice--they simply formalize and standardize existing practices in federal court. But the fact that these changes are coming is likely to put this issue even higher on the radar of anyone involved in, or interested in, filing an employment lawsuit.

2) These changes explicitly reinforce the fact that electronically stored documents are subject to discovery. Lesson: don't assume that because it's not a printed document no one will ever know.

3) Parties have a substantial burden to protect these documents once litigation is "reasonably anticipated." Lesson: don't start deleting files and e-mail once an employee complains. In fact, the duty to preserve is more stringent than the duty to produce.

4) These changes establish a process by which the parties should resolve disputes over the production of these documents.

5) Parties do not need to provide documents that are not "reasonably accessible" unless ordered to do so by the court. Lesson: although some evidence may be overly burdensome to produce, be ready to argue why.

6) We're not just talking about Word documents and e-mails. This category of evidence includes photos, instant messages, and voicemail (among others).

7) We're not just talking about files on your PC/laptop and the server. We're talking flash drives, PDAs, cell phones, etc.

This is not an area to tred lightly in, so if you have any questions on this topic, who ya gonna call? An attorney.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SIOP Awards Nominations

It's award nomination time.

SIOP has announced that its 2007 awards are now available for nominations. You can nominate someone online and details of the awards can be found here .

Restrictions: you must be a SIOP member, an
APA member, an APS member, or sponsored by one of these professional organizations to nominate someone. All nominees must be SIOP members except for the Katzell Media Award .

'nother example of our profession giving some props to individuals but I'd sure like to see some
employer awards .

Monday, November 06, 2006

OFCCP posts new Internet Applicant Rule FAQs

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Compliance Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has posted 12 additional FAQs on the Internet Applicant Rule that was released last year.

So what do they have to say? Here are some tidbits:

- "Basic qualifications" do not HAVE to be documented in a job description as long as they are documented somewhere (e.g., in the job announcement) if they are used to screen applicants.

- Searching a database to find candidates who are the best "fit" using a "hit" feature is not considered a "data management feature" per the Rule, thus using this technique DOES result in candidates being "considered" per the Rule.

- ** One way to avoid having to maintain mountains of resumes when conducting searches is first to narrow things down using whether or not the person is even interested (e.g., by using salary or geographic preference). **

- ** An employer may consider someone to be disinterested in a job after 2 OR MORE inquiries have gone un-responded to. **

There's lots of other good stuff in here, especially dealing with situations where you contract out for your screening services. Check it out!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Keep an eye on Spock

Yes, I said Spock.

It's a new
website coming on board soon that has been featured in VentureBeat , CNET , and in the November issue of Business 2.0 .

So what is it? It's a people search engine. No, don't yawn. This has been tried before but not like this. Plug in "engineers" in Google and you'll get back links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (they're like a good penny), professional organizations, etc. What you won't get are specific people.

That's what is all about--you will be able to plug in subjects and get actual people. And when it launches (no date yet), it will have profiles for 100 million people. Results will be based on tags submitted by registered users.

Can't wait to see how this turns out, and I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Who exactly are you screening in?

roulette wheel
Job applicants aren't stupid. They know you're looking for certain keywords when you review their resume or application. And simply switching to ATS hasn't changed the game, just the way it's played .

You may think that you're screening in the candidates with the most targeted qualifications. But are you really? Or are you just letting in those that are the best at playing the game?

Video, video, video!!

Video, whether for resumes or jobs, is getting more and more and more play these days.

As more and more video sites popped up, it was only a matter of time until a more vertically integrated service model came along, and it has in the guise of .

Brightcove has two major
functions : helping publishers of video, and helping with video search. That's pretty nifty in its own right.

But they have
larger aspirations about being a key partner in the distribution of video across the spectrum. Video-on-demand has been a buzzword for a long time, but we may actually be getting there, we just need the hardware .

What has this got to do with recruitment and assessment? Plenty. Imagine:

- The ability for candidates to download recruitment material, including realistic job previews, to their TV.

- The ability for candidates to easily upload video resumes to organizations.

- The ability to stream material, like practice tests, to individuals that have applied for specific jobs.

And this is just the beginning, and just from my not-so-creative brain. Video is not going away and it's up to organizations to figure out how to take advantage of these technologies to connect with and attract talented individuals.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Google v. Live Search

Microsoft has been pushing its Live Search engine recently, including an amusing ad I saw in today's paper not-so-subtly referring to Google several times, e.g.:

"It takes more than a complicated mathematical equation"

"Nothing spurs innovation like a little competition between companies that have been known to hire some pretty sharp people."

So which is better? Hard to say, and with search engines evolving so much into other areas (e.g., map views, video, etc.) it may depend on what type of information you're trying to find.

But just for fun I ran a search on "personnel assessment" on both engines. Here's what Google returned:

3. Wonderlic
4. A British professional organization
5. A British testing firm
6. A Canadian government site
7. Same as #6, different part of site
8. A school in The Netherlands
9. A U.S. consulting firm
10. A Russian consulting firm

How international! Let's see what Live Search comes up with:

2. A British consulting firm
3. A HVAC training organization
4. A U.S. consulting firm
5. Another U.S. consulting firm
6. A Russian consulting firm
7. The State of Oklahoma's personnel shop
8. A U.S. consulting firm
9. A U.S. consulting firm
10. A British consulting firm

So which is better? Depends what you're looking for. At this point at least, Google's top matches have more to do with information and less with consulting firms.

This can and does change over time, so I'll do this again in the future and see how they match up.

(BTW, if you don't already know, Google has another search engine in the works, or at least in the testing phase. Check out
Searchmash ).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Employer Certification

Talk to me long enough about personnel assessment and selection and one of the things I'm bound to say is that we, as a profession, don't do a very good job recognizing good selection practices.

Yes, organizations like
IPMA-HR do a good job of recognizing organizations that do particularly innovative things, but in general we don't recognize ongoing excellent practices such as rigorous and frequent job analysis, carefully crafted exams, and ensuring ROI for our customers. Centralized HR shops (in my experience) do an even worse job of recognizing line or agency practices that meet the grade. We fail miserably in using one of the most powerful behavior modification tools available to us: positive reinforcement .

One place to look for inspiration is job boards. has established a program to certify employers as
"Age Friendly" . All employers advertising positions with will be asked to participate.

So what is it? According to the website, it's "an initiative to identify employers that maintain policies, practices and programs consistent with employment of people age 50 and older based solely on their proficiency, qualifications and contribution, and on terms and conditions comparable to younger individuals. Further, Certification indicates an employer’s recognition of the unique value of age 50+ workers as well as their commitment to take affirmative action in providing meaningful employment, development opportunities and competitive pay and benefits."

What might this look like for personnel selection? Some ideas:

- Recognition of applicant tracking systems that have been implemented that do a particularly good job of communicating with applicants, tracking diversity information, and gathering relevant metrics.

- Sustained quality job analysis efforts that produce documents that would pass muster with federal agencies.

- Employers with high applicant satisfaction ratings as determined by a standardized survey applied across the board.

- HR shops that consistently allow their employees to make presentations at conferences, publish papers, etc.

These could all be linked together into some type of "best practices" web ring. It would help candidates (both HR and non-HR) identify shops that know their stuff and would be an example for other employers.

We've seen
some disjointed efforts in certifying individuals . Why not employers?