Poaching: Is It Just Business or Vengeance?

It happens all the time: You land a new position and find that there are other open positions that maybe your previous co-workers would be interested in.  You tell your new supervisor and, on your recommendation, they give you the “green light” to reach out to them and ask.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

But when do you go too far?

In the recruiting world, its typical for a recruiter to reach out to a client’s competitors to try and steal away their employees.  After all, its easier to find someone who is already doing the job you are hiring for AND in the same industry that will be able to plug in right away.  We call that “business.”  And if an employee is happy at the job they currently have, no amount of wooing will be able to change that.

And it would seem to be perfectly acceptable to use a new hire to do the same type of scouting that would happen if you hired a recruiting firm.  Let’s face it – they know exactly the environment these other employees are in and what may be the reasons they would entertain leaving.  But, there is a point of crossing the line.

I recently had an employee move on to another opportunity with a competitor who began to reach out to his former co-workers to see if they would be interested in leaving and coming over to his new employer as well.  We’re not talking one or two employees….he reached out to at least 5!  Each were key employees in their own departments.  Where this former employee “crossed the line” and has now left a bad taste in not only his former employer’s mouth but that of his former employees, is he began to harass these employees.  And when employees wouldn’t respond or take his phone calls anymore, he turned them over to his new boss to try calling them…to the point that one of their targets came to ask me if we could somehow get them to stop calling him.

Now we’ve crossed into the unprofessional side…An employee determined for vengeance.

Just as we tell jobseekers not to bad talk your past employers during a job interview, seeking vengeance against a former employer leave create a reputation for you personally…not the company.  This can be particularly harmful to you when it’s a niche industry and the power players all talk to each other.  Competitors in the marketplace doesn’t always make them enemies.  Word will get around if you go down the “vengeance” path that can come back to reflect negatively on your new company and you as an employee when you go to move on to another employer.

This can be particularly dangerous for small businesses who don’t have a strong reputation to fall back on, not to mention to potential for legal issues involved from cases of slander to non-competes.  It may seem like an easy and cost-saving tactic to use, but its not always the smartest.

Keep it just business by taking yourself out of the equation.

There is a reason why recruiting firms exist and sometimes the “smarter” approach to poaching as a tactic is to use them to carry it out.  They can approach your desired candidates from a point of confidentiality and feel them out to see if “jumping ship” is really something they would consider.  Remember, just because you perceive an employee as unhappy at their current job doesn’t mean they have the same desire to leave that you did.

As the Interviewer: Stages of the Interview

There are so many different ways that companies are conducting interviews these days that it begs the question: Should there be different steps in the interview process?

Some will say the process depends on the size of the company…others will say it depends on the level of the position.  But too many times either a vital step is missed or more steps are added that complicate the process and may end in loosing a candidate or having to re-hire again because a candidate didn’t work out.

Not knowing the best way to approach the interview process is really no one’s fault.  The Art of Interviewing is a topic discussed with Jobseekers but never have I seen it as a topic taught from the Interviewer’s perspective.  Like with any HR or Management position, it is just “assumed” that you will know how to interview because you have achieved those roles in your career.  And this is where I have seen mistakes be made.

You have may a process that works well for you and your company….and congratulations if you do!  But for those that find themselves wondering if it could be better or struggling with always seeming to hire “problem” employees that aren’t discovered until after the fact, here is a breakdown that hopefully will help you.

Stage 1:    The Phone Interview

Duration: Typically no more than 15min

For some people, they think the Phone Interview is a waste of time and go right to bringing the candidate in for an in-person interview.  However, you are missing a key opportunity especially if this is a candidate that will be working on the phone in any capacity with your customers.

The main purpose of conducting a phone interview is to hear the person’s phone etiquette.  Are they quiet and timid or are they hyper and interrupting?  Do they speak clearly?  Do you perceive any attitude when they are answering you that your customers may misinterpret?

Questions are by the Interviewer are typically: questions about the current job that they have, what interested the candidate about your job opening and the “why do you feel you are a fit for this job?”  Based on the impressions over the phone, you decide whether or not to go to Stage 2.

Stage 2:  First In-person Interview with HR

Duration: Typically 30-45min

Here is where many Managers just don’t understand why HR has to get involved to interview.  After all, when it comes to doing the job (especially if it is technical or specialized) how can HR really be a good judge about who would be a “good hire” and who wouldn’t?  The purpose of the “first interview” is not to find your ideal candidate right off the bat, but to serve as a “gatekeeper” to weed out all of those that may not be a good representation of the company or a fit with the company’s culture.

Your HR person is looking for a “personality fit” when they first meet with the candidates:

  • Do they speak clearly?
  • Are they thoughtful when answering questions about their background?
  • Do they show they can think on their feet when asked questions about past problems they have encountered?
  • Are they a personality a fit for the company and how it projects itself to its customers?
  • Would they bit a fit with the other employees?
  • Are they looking for more career-wise than the company is able to offer to where they may become dissatisfied quickly?
  • What are their reasons for gaps, changes in career, leaving previous employers?

They made it past the “check the box” on their resume to get the interview, but now it’s time to see how they answer questions about their experience and aspirations to see if – personality-wise – there is a match with your company.  When HR finds the candidates that they feel fit this requirement, now it’s time to get into their specific skills and experience to see how it relates to the job you are looking to fill.

Stage 3:  Second In-Person Interview with Hiring Manager

Duration: Typically 30-45min

This is where the Manager gets to focus just on the candidate’s background and skills to ask questions to see if they will be able to fill the job you are looking to fill.  Don’t waste your time with some of the typical questions you can find on the Internet such as “Where do you see yourself in 5yrs?”  Remember, that’s the type of questions your HR person has already asked to see if they would have a future with the company.

Make the most of your time by focusing on “if” and “how” this candidate in front of you would be able to:

  • Come up to speed to do the job you are hiring for or will they need more time to train and become accustomed…
  • Are they technically up to par with the skill set you are looking for or, with a little time and training, could you train them up to be the ideal employee…
  • How well do they seem to listen to direction – do they listen to you or interrupt you when asking questions…
  • Do they offer ideas and suggestions based on past experience as answers to the questions you pose…

Let’s face it – you are looking for that employee that can hit the ground running right after their first day, so use this time to uncover if they will be able to work with you (as their manager) and do the job efficiently so you can quickly make a choice on your new hire.

Optional:  Reference Checks

Today’s jobseekers often wonder if companies ever do call on references before hiring them and, in all honesty, many companies don’t…mainly because they don’t think it will get them any insight into a candidate as they are expecting.  So, as a result, jobseekers don’t want to share references in the early stages of interviewing (and they really shouldn’t be required to) and employers aren’t taking the time to do their research.

With social media today, there are so many ways to “reference check” an employee to see if they would be a good hire.  Many candidates will have LinkedIn accounts that allows you to see not just their resume, but more about outside activities such as: volunteer positions and articles published, not to mention how professionally they work to appear online (is their photo professional or questionable?).  Same can be said for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram….anything that is set to “public” that you can see – your customers and clients will be able to see to.

But don’t discount the phone inquiry!  Yes, there are companies staying away from offering reference checks because of implied legal retaliation, but some are still willing to share especially if it was a great employee that they were sorry to see go.  Just stay away from family and friends as references.  Even students can offer teachers as references that will give you more of a peek into their personality and ethics.  And don’t pressure an employee to give you a reference from their current employer unless you have already extended a job offer.  Ask for past supervisors and even subordinates. 

You will already have an idea if you want to hire the person or not before you make the call so keep the conversation on how well they carried out their job, how they got along with others, did they have ideas to bring to the table, etc.

Where Have All The Good Hires Gone?

The days of posting an ad on the various job boards and receiving hundreds of resumes is long gone.  And if that is how you are still trying to find your next employee, then here is some insight into why it is taking so much longer for you to fill a position than even 5 years ago.

Today’s job search is all about “networking.”

While HR technology, such as Applicant Tracking Systems software (“ATS”), has been a great way for companies sort through resumes received based on qualifications and build a database of future possible candidates, it is not as welcoming to today’s jobseeker.  In fact, the frustration that having to apply for a job that uses an ATS has caused most jobseekers to seek ways to “get around the system”…and that has led to them taking a more direct approach at trying to find their next job.

Some jobseekers will cite the reason being many companies’ ATS requires too many questions to be answered that are already available on their resume being submitted that will be scanned and purged into the database anyway.  Others have concern that the filtering methods put in place with an ATS will result in them being “passed over” for consideration of a job that they would otherwise be deemed qualified.

The result: Jobseekers have put more of their focus on networking. They have joined industry organizations, networking groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter “chats”…any way they can possible meet Hiring Managers, Recruiters or just Influencers in their field to help uncover potential openings or get them directly in front of the person trying to fill an open job.

What should companies do to find today’s top candidates?

Simply put – You need to go to where the candidates are and not just wait for them to come to you.

– Join in on Twitter or LinkedIn “chats” in your industry.  See who joins in and what they offer to the conversation…and connect with them.

– Attend industry “networking” events that jobseekers are going to and mingle with them.  It’s the easiest way to get some “first interviews” with potential candidates.  Some may not be actively looking for a job, but most will be open to hearing about new opportunities.

– Make sure your company is profiled on LinkedIn and create “groups” that people can join.  You may even find some of your alumni may join and could be open to coming back.

– Get your company involved in community events.  Many of today’s jobseekers support various causes and put an emphasis on volunteering.  They are looking for companies that embrace the same values they have, which will make your company someplace they will want to work.

Those top candidates are still out there.  Meet them halfway…before another company does.

Why Your Company Should Not Use an ATS in Recruiting

Applicant-Tracking-SystemEvery time a new piece of software comes out, everyone is quick to check it out and jump on the bandwagon of “ooooh, we need this!”  A company will spend thousands of dollars to buy the new software, customize it to what they think is their needs and then train everyone on how to use it.  After all, to be competitive in this new marketplace, every company has to be “up to speed” with the latest and greatest tools, right?

What ends up happening for some companies is:

1) The program ends up rarely getting used, or

2) even after training, their employees don’t really know how to use it so either they don’t anymore or they become depend on the software and forget how to use their others skills.

So, let’s talk Applicant Tracking Systems…fondly called ATS.

First off, what exactly is an Applicant Tracking System?
Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

“An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. The principal function of an ATS is to provide a central location and database for a company’s recruitment efforts. ATSs are built to better assist management of resumes and applicant information. Data is either collected from internal applications via the ATS front-end, located on the company website or is extracted from applicants on job boards.”

It is estimated that roughly 50% of all mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations use some type of Applicant Tracking System.  And there are plenty of different software versions available, not the mention formats in the form of “modules” that many HR & payroll companies offer as an addition to their software package.

But….should your company even be using one in the first place?

Jobseekers will tell you that it seems every company is using one and some are extremely tedious when it comes to having to apply to the company via one of these ATS systems.  You can do a Google search of all the new “trends” in “how to optimize your resume” just so their application can be found and considered.   But is it helping YOU find those stellar candidates?

Let’s go back to what an Applicant Tracking System is in the first place: it is a database.

When an Applicant applies via an ATS, their resume is downloaded and then parsed for key areas (contact info, salary range, education, skills, etc).  When this information is uploaded into this database, the user is then able to “search” multiple resumes at once using specific fields or keywords.

Many Recruiters and Staffing Agencies use an ATS because when they receive an open order for a position, they need to be able to quickly and easily search through all the applications they already have on file to see if they have any candidates on file that could be considered BEFORE trying to solicit new applicants.  It gives them a starting point for a candidate pool to pull from.

Unless you are a company that has constant openings for the same or similar positions, will using an ATS really help you? 

Think about it: What will a database of candidate applications do for your company?  If you only fill a position once a year, for example, are you really going to go back to a list of candidates from a year ago or are you going to want to get updated resumes to consider?  Most of those candidates will have moved on to other jobs by then so time spent reaching out to them may be better spent on just posting a new job ad.

Are you only using an ATS because of the volume of resumes you receive, thinking it will make it easier for you to search and sort through them?

Remember, an ATS grabs keywords – keywords that you upload as you are setting it up – so if a candidate doesn’t use those same keywords when uploading their resume into your ATS you could be missing out on some star candidates.  Yes, jobseekers are “advised” to add keywords to their resumes based on the job ad, but you are taking a chance thinking that all of them do and will.  Being dependent on the ATS to sort them out for you may leave candidates overlooked…and why filling those positions may be taking longer for you these days.

And, the more complicated you setup your ATS system to be in the application process, the less likely many job applicants will sit and go through the process.  Many jobseekers complain about company’s that use an ATS that first asks for their resume and then makes them spend another 20min not answering interview-style questions but actually re-inputting all the info that they say is already on their resume.  They have admitted to just quitting the application process and moving on when it appears to be that “difficult” to apply.

Bottom line: Take a look at whether or not you really need an ATS at your company.  Sometimes, you don’t need the “latest and greatest” as a solution to your problem.  Sometimes, it can actually hurt more than it helps.

If Its On the Internet, It Must Be True!

search_internetHow quick are we to believe what we read and find on the Internet!

Remember the State Farm Insurance commercials promoting their mobile app where the girl tells her friend “If it on the Internet, it must be true.” We laugh and roll our eyes at the stupidity of the comment…yet, so many people pass judgment or make assumptions based on what they see on the Internet.

I recently had a friend go through a personal ordeal because of information uncovered by another person on the Internet. This person, for whatever reason, had “Googled” my friend’s name and found questionable information…and then proceeded to make assumptions based on this information to degrade my friend’s character. No one further investigated the information or even asked him for an explanation to determine whether or not it was true and/or what were the circumstances. Instead, a lynch mob ensued, orchestrated by this person who played to the fears and emotions of others. Had an explanation been sought before taking action, the truth surrounding the information found on the Internet would have been revealed…and not been as bad as it was made out to be. Instead, my friend was ousted from this group because the situation had escalated beyond any chance of resolution and the person who spread this information was allowed to go home and gloat in the glory of his success.

Ridiculous, right? Upset? I was too.

And while I’m sure not many of us would have gone to the extreme that this person did, how many of us will admit that we too have jumped to conclusions based on the tidbit of information we see? Or worse – choose not to interview an applicant because they have checked that box on their application that “have been convicted of a crime.”

As a Hiring Manager, it is important to protect the integrity of the company as well as its employees. If an actual background check is not included as part of the pre-hire procedure, its not uncommon for many to resort to “Googling” a person’s name to see what public information comes up.

Should we take that information as gospel? Not unless you think like the girl in the State Farm commercial!

Just like with any other situation, we must get the full facts – from both sides if available – before we jump to conclusions, make assumptions or pass judgment whether it be verbal accusations or Internet findings. So, how to you handle it without worrying about any legal backlash? Use it as a talking point to gather information – and remember not ask in the tone of making an accusation.

For example: I had an applicant that noted that he had been arrested for armed robbery. He showed up wearing a suit to personally turn in his application so I decided to ask him if he wanted to expand on why he answered the question with a “yes.” He admitted that he had been arrested but stated that he was young and it was a case of being in the “wrong place at the wrong time” – he didn’t know at the time, but he had gotten in a car with a friend that had just committed the robbery when the police pulled him over and was considered guilty by association. Ten years later, he had kept a clean record, finished school and had different volunteer groups he had become a part of. His previous employer had gone out of business with the market, so was just looking a full-time job with a career path. I was impressed…so was the manager…so we gave him a chance. (Yes, he worked out…and eventually moved into an Assistant Manager position!)

We are bombarded with images and news of crime on a daily basis that it makes it easy for us to jump to quick conclusions without the benefit of the doubt….and this is all perpetuated by fear. Fear is the “evil you” sitting on your one shoulder always trying to drown out the “good you.” Will you let Fear win? Or will you question before making a decision?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Shame on Companies for NOT Hiring Veterans!

Monster.com put out a “Veterans Career Confidence Index” in November 2011 to gauge how both veterans and employers view employing our vets in civilian jobs.  At the time, 77% of employers “agreed that veterans or those with prior military experience are prepared for a career transition out of the military.”  What a great thing to see employers feeling this way!!

Until I read the follow-up on this statistic re-released six months later…

Now – only 39% of those employers feel that way.  No wonder so many of our vets our doubting themselves and feeling discouraged about finding work back in the civilian world.

This angered me…until I determined that is simply a matter of employers not being adequately educated about what these jobseekers bring to the table.  So, here are some key factors that employers need to be aware of and think about when recruiting and interviewing our nation’s veterans:

  1. If you really break it down, the “military” and “corporate” reporting structure aren’t all that different…both have layers of authority where directives (or “orders”) are sent down the chain through and requiring each level to add its own adaptation to complete.
  2. Soldiers aren’t just taught to follow orders…they are taught to lead and motivate others.  And we’re not talking the “Full Metal Jacket” version you may assume but how to lead with authority but as a team.  They have to build a trust with each other because their own lives may depend on it…so in a way, they are better at the leading and team-building than your everyday employee.
  3. A soldier’s skill set is learned on-the-job but with oversight so they can master their trade and perform it correctly without supervision.  Most of your employees will learn on-the-job but either self-taught or with minimal supervision and then thrown to the wolves.  Which would you think would be able to perform the task quickly and correctly the first time?
  4. Military experience means attention to detail: in their work, in how they dress, in how they interact with others.  What do they say?  Takes two weeks of conditioning for something to become a habit?  Well, these are “habits” instilled in our veterans from the first day of Basic Training and then become a way of life for them.  You care about your employees’ appearance to the consumer, right?

When you come across the resume or job application from one of our vets, I don’t want you to feel “obligated” to talk to them or hire them simply because they are vets…and they don’t want you to either.  They want to be recognized for the skills and experience they can bring to the table.

I’m not a veteran myself (dad was a Vietnam Vet and I was in AFROTC) but have been around enough military personnel (both family and friends) to feel that companies that don’t feel these folks can transition from military to civilian life need to take a step back and rethink that.  You may also be surprised to know how many of your own employees have military experience…but you just didn’t know it.  This new generation of “vets” is not that much different from those that served in Vietnam or Dessert Storm.

I would really like to know what “questions” or “reservations” companies have about hiring these vets…so, let’s hear them so we can talk about it!

A Psychic Side to Every HR Professional

quoyeWhen some people think of HR professionals, they think “paper pushers” or “company rule enforcer.”  Others, nickname us the “counselor.”

An effective HR professional needs to be – as Mae West put it – fluent in body language as well as a good listener.  We have all come across friends and family that “tell us one thing” but we can sense we either aren’t getting the full story or the truth.  Employees are no different – and keep in mind, most are afraid to reveal the full truth because they fear for their job.

If you focus on just what the person is telling you, how much information are you missing out on?  What’s the bigger underlining problem that could affect not just the employee but others or the company as well?  Or is there a potential new idea that the employee is afraid – remember, its now always a “problem” so don’t go into a dicussion already expecting that.

Trust is a big part in getting the employee to open up to you – and that should always be worked on first – but sometimes, their body language will give you clues to help “fish” information out of them.  I told a friend recently that I prefer discussion in person rather than over the phone or text because then I am able to “see” when they are getting upset, when they are about to go on a rant that may need to be reigned in and when they are about to shut down.

What are some key body language signs that I look for:

1)      Tapping their feet or figiting with their hands – they are nervous or anxious…either way, they are looking for a quick visit and exit.

2)      Constantly looking down – not maintaining eye contact can mean a couple of things: either they are still reliving the situation in their mind or they are embarrased to.

3)      Arms folded – this one is a no-brainer, they are on “guard” and prepping for a fight

4)      Blank stare into space – they are about to shut down.  They are beginning to tell themselves not to share anymore.

5)      Increased breathing – can point to a couple possibilities: either they are trying to control their emotions or their temper is beginning to build up

6)      Increased swallowing – they are fighting back tears

7)      Sweat or redness in the face – yep, temper is building up and about to explode

Paying attention to a person’s body language seems like common sense but is something you have to train yourself to do from the start of the conversation – not wait until things heat up.  Employees need to vent but they also need to know that you are truly “in their corner”…and that comes from both listening to them and making them feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.  Reading their body language helps you adjust to them – don’t force it to be the other way around.

Remember: your job is to uncover what they aren’t telling you and pair it with what they ARE telling you to paint the full picture.

Top Signs You Should Think Twice About Hiring An Applicant

flag_pin_angled_400_clr_9655You were impressed with their resume.

You conducted the phone interview.

You were equally impressed with them during an in-person interview.

Could they be the perfect candidate?

Aside from the typical background checks HR professional do these days: reference checks, Google searches, LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook searches, criminal background checks…are there other signs that can point to a problematic employee before you spend all your time researching them?

Don’t loose sight of the importance of the traditional “Application for Employment.”

Candidates will typically stretch the truth on their resumes with the expectation that it will be the only document the potential employer will use in evaluating them. Remember: resumes are not always complete or clear. Last thing an employer wants to deal with is having to terminate an employee after-the-fact and risking a lawsuit.

So how can the Application for Employment serve as a measurement of an applicant’s candidacy?

1) Beware the applicant that doesn’t sign the employment application. Most companies use the same standard line on the application near the signature block – “all information is truthful and accurate to the best of my knowledge.” Not signing is less of an omission and more a sign that the candidate is purposefully not signing the application for fear that it would be used against them later when its discovered that the information they provided was false.

2) The applicant does not sign the consent for a background screening. Most online resume submissions are programmed to not allow a candidate to advance to the submission stage without agreeing to a background check, but if you are having them complete the application in person – pay attention to this box. Employers who do not enforce this, especially small businesses, run the risk of being labeled the “preferred employer” for those with past actions to hide because they know the employer doesn’t really perform this step.

3) An applicant fails to explain gaps in employment. In today’s market, many applicants are afraid or ashamed to report that they were laid off for fear that they will be judged by that. If this is the case, it can be gauged during an interview by simply asking the applicant about the gaps. However, another reason for tracking gaps in employment is for criminal background checks. Contrary to popular belief (or what you see on TV), there isn’t a national database for criminal records. These have to be run separately by state.

4) The applicant fails to give sufficient information on past employers for reference checks. While many applicants won’t keep track of phone numbers for HR to call, location and supervisor’s name is usually enough to track down a phone number or email address. Don’t bypass a past employer because you don’t have enough information to contact them. Many applicants will not give enough information because they don’t want you to contact their previous employer – which means there may be valuable insight you are missing. Beware especially when an applicant states they can’t remember their previous supervisor’s name. I can still remember my first manager’s name when I started working at 17 and I’m sure you can too! Past employment reference checks may only yield title and dates of employment, but the applicant doesn’t know that.

5) The applicant fails to give a reason for leaving a past job. That’s usually a red flag that they were terminated or asked to resign due to some performance issue. While this can be addressed during the interview, the omission should put you on alert to watch for how the applicant answers when asked in person. Do they fidget? Do they look like they are struggling to come up with an answer? Do they simply say “it was just time for me to move on?” All are reasons to be skeptical.

6) Simple as it sounds – lots of cross-outs and changes on the resume. That could be a sign that they are making things up as they go along and trying to cover up real reasons/information with what you will want to read.

While technology has greatly improved the recruiting process, making it easier for candidates to apply and recruiter s to screen, don’t loose sight of the “old school” tactics that can protect your company from future liability.

Some practices should never be replaced.

#HRHorrorStories – Day 5 – And The Award Goes To….

Head in HandsIf you have been following the #HRHorrorStories that were shared on #DTHR last week, you were probably thinking “yep, I’ve had that happen to me” or “I’ve had a similar experience.” Those of us that have been in the field for a while think that we’ve heard it all!

Well, get ready cause I’m willing to bet you never had this one happen to you! So, sit down, get comfortable, grab your coffee and drink it first before you read on…this may make you fall off your chair or spit your coffee out.

There were two stories shared – one that opened a lot of discussion about best practices and one that left us all speechless….and in my opinion wins the award for Best HR Horror Story EVER!

The first story was about an HR Manager finding out from another employee who had been surfing the Internet one day that a current employee of the company had been listed on the State’s Sexual Offender list. Of course, we know not to always believe everything that we read on the Internet, so the HR Manager did their due diligence and verified with the State Agency that is was in fact true. Once the employee was questioned, he admitted to the conviction and knowing that he was on the list but had indicated on his job application that he had no past convictions and was terminated that day for lying on his application.

Many companies do like to do background checks prior to hiring – sometimes its as simple as a reference check, sometimes its more involved such as a criminal or financial background check (although I personally think unless you are applying for a financial position, the company is over doing it but demanding a financial background check) and some companies will do a brief Internet check. This is a big reason why we advise jobseekers at any level to “Google yourself” and see what information comes up on the Internet about you including pictures. We do advise jobseekers to also be aware of what they post on Social Media as that may be seem by potential employers as well but not sure many companies actually take the time to check those before hiring.

The example provided also brought up the fact that many states have “Ban the Box” practices now that prevent employers from including questions about your background on the job application. This does make it harder to uncover such situations…but also begs the question: how in-depth of a background do you think your future employee needs? Does it really matter what they have done in the past when they are trying to make a change in their life? If they admit their past mistakes to you, will you hold it against them or praise them for their honesty?

Let me give you some food for thought: An employee with a past conviction for a DUI applies to your company for a position that will not involve him operating machinery or driving a vehicle. Should it matter that he has a DUI conviction? Will you question every time he is late or sick as alcohol-related instead of believing the reasons he tells you? Will it make you view him differently regardless of whether or not he does a good job? See what I mean…there isn’t a perfect answer but its something that every company needs to look at individually to decide.

Now….here’s the award-winning story!

As part of a company’s standard policy, all employees needed to go through a pre-employment physical. In this case, the new employees were allowed to start work immediately pending the results of the drug screen. (Rapid panels drug tests can provide you with immediate results, however proper testing and recording can take up to 24hrs for negative test and 72hrs for positive ones.) Well, this employee failed his drug screen. He was brought it, told of his test results and terminated.

A couple of days later – this ex-employee called HR and asked for a copy of his failed drug test. When HR asked why he wanted it, he said it was because he had bought a Drug Masking kit to guarantee that he would pass so he needed the results in order to go back to the store to ask for a refund on the kit! Of course, the company opted not to provide him with a copy. What the employee also didn’t realize is that many drug tests today are setup to look for those masking agents that have become so popular.

While many employees will try anything to pass a drug screen, companies requiring one as a condition of employment really should wait until the test results have been received before starting them. This saves you time and money spent on getting all their paperwork together and added into your payroll system. It also prevents any case of unemployment to be filed against you – even though they will not have had enough time to make you a chargeable employer, they can still list you as a previous employer if you had already let them start before finding out they failed the drug screen.

There you have it!

For anyone who ever thought that HR was just filling out paperwork and doing payroll, I hope you enjoyed reading all the situations and trials that HR professionals encounter on a daily basis. Yes, most of the stories shared are more common than you think….its just that you must have a great HR person on staff to handle these things so that you never had to know what happens behind the door to the HR office…

#HRHorrorStories – Day 4 – Jobseeker No-No’s and Policy Pitfalls

Helicopter-ParentWMEach day this week #DTHR’s #HRHorrorStories has enlightened us to more and more “you won’t believe this” stories that happen on a daily basis in HR and have shaped how we do business. And in sharing these stories, we hope that others will learn too.

Day 4 of this series was no different. We went from talking about how implementing new policies in the workplace can backfire if not done correctly, to mistakes that jobseekers are still making that may be diminishing their chances of getting a new job and after-hours mistakes that even the best HR person can make.

In our first story, we talked about implementing new office policies. 9 times out of 10 the person creating such policies is at an upper-level in the company and does not solicit the input from those managing at lower levels…and this can lead to unforeseen problems. For instance: many companies have embraced becoming a drug-free workplace. Most commonly, you will see that companies utilize a pre-employment drug test requirement and even a post-accident one. But, what happen when you incorporate random drug testing with immediate termination the result of a failed drug test? Well, you may find out that you are firing about 80% of your employees. One restaurant chain found out just that!

There will always be situations that trigger the need for a new or revamped company policy. However, it is best to include those at the lower levels in the company (department supervisors and maybe even longest tenure employees) in the policy discussion in order to determine how to best word it and roll it out. Don’t simply look at other companies and decide you want to do that – and then just copy what they are doing. Each company’s environment is different as well as its employee culture and both need to be taken into account when formulating a strict yet not business-threatening policy.

Our next group of stories shared centered around the “you won’t believe what this Jobseeker did!” category. Many in HR have joked for years that we could write a book on the various things we encounter talking to candidates and what happens during the interview process. But these series include some examples that you wouldn’t believe unless you heard it from the Hiring Manager herself:

  • Candidate’s mother took “helicopter parent” to the ultimate degree when not only did she accompany her daughter to the job interview, but called the Hiring Manager after her daughter was told she was not being hired to demand to see the resume of the person who did get hired to know why her daughter didn’t get the job.
  • Candidate got a ride to the interview from his Probation Officer and told the Hiring Manager during the interview that his “P.O.” had come with because he had to go for a mandatory drug-screen following their meeting.
  • Candidate who brought their kids with to the interview because they couldn’t get a sitter “but its okay, they can wait in the lobby.”
  • Candidates – still in 2015 – using inappropriate email addresses like “bigjugs69@….” and LinkedIn photos that are selfies wearing too revealing outfits or with backgrounds showing drinking or partying.

Not much a company can do to counter these types of jobseeker mistakes, but if you know of friends or family that may be doing these things – please talk to them! Yes, first impressions go a long way and are truly an important factor in the hiring decision process!

Our last story talked about those infamous office parties and the problems with over-drinking and open bars. One company held an after-hours office party and distributed drink tickets for their open bar as a way to “control” the amount of drinking their employees would do. Unfortunately, not everyone does drink at these parties so when a HR executive went around to ask if anyone didn’t want to use their tickets, he collected them, ordered about a dozen drinks and went off to a table by himself to consume them…while shouting profanities and rude comments the more he drank. Was he trying to get himself fired? Or had the stress finally gotten to him and he simply “snapped”?

Many companies have done a great job at trying to control such office parties – partly because of concern for their employees but also because many jurisdictions now have laws in place that hold the company responsible for damages or accidents their employees are involved in even after leaving such events. But the reality is: can we ever really control such a thing unless we do away with alcoholic beverages at functions entirely? There really is no way. Some people simply don’t know how to control themselves and some have either very small or very large tolerances for alcohol. Drinking has become more of a “social mark” than a needed aspect at company events so if you worry about such problems coming up, may be a good idea to stay non-alcoholic in the beverage department and let the employees “enjoy an adult beverage” on their own after the event.