Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Hiring Practices That Could (Really) Get You Sued

For the most part, I believe that people go into hiring with the best of intentions. Very few hiring managers actually want to be discriminatory in their hiring practices; most just really want to ensure they are hiring the best person for the job. That often involves wanting to get to know their applicants very well before making a final determination.

And most of the time, that really does come from a genuine place.

The problem is, not everyone is coming from that genuine place. Hiring discrimination absolutely does exist, and so laws and regulations have been put in place to try to prevent that. Laws and regulations that even you, as a hiring manager who doesn’t intend to discriminate, have to abide by.

It’s not too surprising how often hiring mangers don’t seem to understand these regulations. After all, hiring is often an “other duty as assigned,” and it doesn’t usually come with an instruction manual!  Therefore, all too often, even the most genuine and sincere hiring managers do things that could get them sued.

Asking All The Wrong Questions

I was recently involved in a group interview where one of the interviewers asked a candidate how old he was. As Business News Daily points out, that’s a no-no. Age discrimination laws are in place to prevent you from inquiring about a candidate’s age for any other reason than to assert they are, in fact, of legal age to work in your industry (and in that case, you can only ask if the candidate is older than whatever that legal age is—16, 18, 21—you can’t ask specifically how old they are.)

Other questions on the do not ask list? Anything having to do with religion, politics, marriage, children, sexuality, race or ethnicity.

Even though you are probably just trying to get to know your candidates better on a personal level to assess their fit within your corporation—talking about anything personal is a precarious line to walk, and one that could absolutely get you sued. When in doubt, don’t ask. Interview questions are best kept focused on the job at hand.

Jumping the Background Check

Most companies these days rely on some form of background check prior to making a hiring decision, which is great! A background check can tell you a lot about a potential candidate and their suitability for the job at hand.

But before you run any sort of background check, you must first notify the applicant of the background check and have their permission to run it. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this can’t be wedged into the application somewhere—your notice of a background check has to be provided on a standalone sheet, and the applicant’s signature in agreement must be collected.

Also, if you do wind up making a hiring decision based on that background check—you have to notify the applicant of that fact, letting them know where you obtained the report from and that they have a right to request a free copy and to dispute any inaccurate information they find on that report within 60 days.

What’s all this mean for you? Well, it means you can’t just go haphazardly running background checks on all your applicants prior to scheduling interviews. Best practice involves waiting to run a background check until after you have extended an offer contingent upon passing background and drug testing.

Promises That Can’t Be Kept

When you’re in an interview that is going really well, it can be natural to want to let the applicant know they’re your top choice. After all, you don’t want to let them get away! But unless you are 100 percent in the position to make that decision and extend that offer now—don’t make any promises you may not be able to keep.

Even a simple, “Hey, I’ve met 10 people today and you’re by far my favorite, I think this job is going to be yours!” could have the potential to get you in trouble for fraud if the applicant doesn’t wind up being hired. Especially if the applicant then goes and makes a big decision, like quitting their current job, based on that conversation (which has absolutely happened).

Until you’re making an actual job offer, don’t hint one way or another to where you might be leaning. And when you do make that job offer, do so in writing so that there is no confusion about what the actual offer entails. 

Don't fool yourselves into thinking these reminders are all common sense and faux-pas you would never make. You'd be surprised how often even seasoned hiring professionals slip into a casual mindset when interviewing a candidate they like, asking questions that no hiring manager should ever ask or jumping the gun with background checks they shouldn't yet be pursuing. That's why it's important to have a set of protocols to follow and questions to ask determined long before you ever have that perfect applicant seated across from you.

Better safe than sorry when it comes to hiring mistakes that could legitimately get you sued!

ManUP today for success tomorrow…

Click here to receive future advice, tips, and trends on hiring and retaining employees in the unmanned and robotics industry.  

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Let’s Talk About Why You Didn’t Hear Back

It’s happened to all of us. We send an e-mail out into the world with the best of intentions—hoping to land a job, or connect with an old friend, or even to set up a date.  We send that e-mail off, and then we wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s happened to all of us, and we’ve all wondered if (hoped that perhaps) we wound up in spam. Or were accidentally deleted. Or maybe even got the wrong e-mail address.

But most of the time, the receiver of said e-mail probably just decided not to respond. For any number of reasons that may have nothing (or everything) to do with you.

I can’t provide much insight into why your old friend or romantic interest didn’t get back to you—those are personal issues you might need to dissect over a pint (of either ice cream or beer) with your posse. But as a successful recruiter with an overflowing inbox, I can give you a better understanding of why your inquiry into a job opening went un-responded to.

Or at least, what you can do to improve your chances of getting that reply.

First of all, I really do get countless e-mails every day. I say “countless” because the number is really high, and I don’t want to count them! In a perfect world, I would respond to each and every one of those e-mails immediately. But in reality, the days are short and my priorities are fixed.

Which means that if you want me (or any busy hiring manager or recruiter, for that matter) to reply to your e-mail, it’s essential to make it easy to reply.

Like… stupid easy. So easy that why wouldn’t I reply?

So speaking on behalf of all those busy hiring managers and recruiters (or potential customers, vendors, or first dates) with similar inbox challenges, here are some suggestions for that next important e-mail you send:

  1. Don’t Play Coy: Make your subject line one that tells the recipient immediately who you are and what you’re writing about—a subject line that can quickly and easily be located again later if he can’t respond right away. Inquiring about a specific job? Try just using your name and that job title in the subject line: James Taylor, open Project Manager Position.
  2. Keep it Short and Sweet: You know how we’ve talked about the six seconds hiring managers spend looking at a resume? I would argue that number is even less for e-mail inquiries. When managers get e-mails from people who aren’t clients, and with whom they don’t already have an ongoing correspondence—they browse, and browse fast, before prioritizing how/when to reply.  Just, I suspect, as you do with emails you receive.  Which means you have maybe a few sentences to hook them. Be clear about what you want, why you’re contacting them, and how they can best assist you. Now isn’t the time for outlining your life story…or for providing no details and hoping the recipient can read your mind.
  3. Watch Your Tone: For the record, I know it’s frustrating to be on the job hunt. And I am really, truly, genuinely sorry for that frustration. I have all kinds of compassion for it, I promise. But all the compassion in the world doesn’t excuse terse, demanding, or overly frustrated communications with hiring managers and recruiters. If you want to get their attention (or mine), maintain a polite and professional tone, no matter how many times you’ve reached out to no avail. Getting testy does not improve your chances of a positive response.
  4. Have Patience: I believe everyone deserves the courtesy of a response.  So, the vast majority of the time, I will get back to you—it just might not happen within hours, and it probably won’t happen until I have additional information for you, which is dependent on my client’s schedule.  Following up every day is only going to further overwhelm my inbox. So give me 3 to 5 business days before you check back in. And then, a simple and polite reminder that you’re waiting for a reply is usually all it takes to remind me that I still need to get back to you.
  5. Attach the Deets: Keep your e-mail short and sweet, but don’t forget to attach your professional resume for me to review. And no, LinkedIn doesn’t count. Sure, I might peruse your profile if you include the link in your resume, but for a clear picture of how I can present you to hiring managers… the resume is a must have.
I love my job and the people I work with. And I love helping people to land their dream careers. I promise, ignoring you is not on my agenda. But if you make my life easier by being clear about who you are, what you want, and how you’re hoping I might be able to help—I’ll be able to respond more quickly and enthusiastically with my thoughts on how we can get you that job!  And with the possible exception of those romantic interests, I think that goes for anyone you contact with an overflowing inbox!

ManUP today for success tomorrow…

Click here to receive future advice, tips, and trends on hiring and retaining employees in the unmanned and robotics industry.  

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Nightmare That is Rio

If your house is anything like my house, formerly strict screen time rules have been replaced with non-stop Olympics coverage as of late. You watched the opening ceremonies with glee, you’ve mapped out when each of your favorite events will be taking place, and you know exactly who you’re rooting for and when.

Because there is just something about the Olympic games that surges excitement through us all.

It’s fun, right? Stepping back from the insanity that is the 2016 election season, and having something to feel pride in again—rooting for Team USA (or for our non-US friends, your own country's team) right alongside your neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Because Olympic games have a way of uniting us; giving us one common team to cheer for.

So, of course, you’ve also seen some of the less than positive headlines surrounding this year’s Olympic games… or at least, the headlines surrounding Rio:

Let’s be honest; nothing has painted the Rio Olympics in any sort of pristine or expertly executed light. The general consensus by athletes and the media alike is that the setting for this year’s Olympic games is, excuse my language, quite literally a crap-show.

So what happened? Well, most reports lend to the belief that the country simply bit off more than they could chew. They never had the funds or infrastructure to take on an event of this caliber, but they did it anyway, hoping that by doing so they would see a boost in tourism for years to come.
Obviously, with the headlines being what they are, the opposite is more likely to be true.

So what does this all have to do with you? I do have a point, I promise! And that point is this: never overpromise. Never overcommit. Never take on more than you can chew as a company.

Because a bad reputation resulting from undelivered promises and low quality production can have devastating consequences, not only on your ability to appeal to new clients, but also on your ability to woo top-tier talent in hiring.

What we’re seeing happening with Rio right now is a perfect reflection of what can happen when a company doesn’t follow through on promises they’ve made to their clients and employees, or when the desire for bigger and better leads a company to make commitments they can’t possibly live up to. You might go into it thinking that the effort is all that matters—that once you get people in the door, or break ground on a new project you can’t possibly see all the way through, the momentum from those feats will be enough to propel your company further forward.

The truth, unfortunately, is that your company is far more likely to face the same fate as Rio—the effects of a bad reputation will overshadow any good you may have hoped to gain.  The fact is that a leading reason small companies fail is due to premature scaling (http://www.geekwire.com/2011/number-reason-startups-fail-premature-scaling/).

Don’t let that happen to you. In business, reputation is everything. And being able to fulfill the promises you make to your employees upon hiring, and your clients upon beginning business together, will play a huge role in the types of talent you’re able to attract in the future.

Because no one wants to work for a company with a reputation like Rio.

Click here to receive future advice, tips, and trends on hiring and retaining employees in the unmanned and robotics industry.  

Are we connected? 

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