18 Things Recruiters Can Do To Hire More Innovative People - CiteHR
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18 Things Recruiters Can Do To Hire More Innovative People

It is almost impossible to pick up a business magazine without reading about a chief executive officer demanding more innovation within the firm. If you have read The World is Flat, you’ll know that the global marketplace is becoming fiercely more competitive.

The time it takes for a competitor to reverse engineer and copy a product shrinks every month and brand is weakening as a mechanism to maintain customer loyalty given the pricing pressure that such competitors can leverage.

Clearly, the key to future business success is developing processes that drive continuous innovation throughout every aspect of the company. HR plays an important role with regards to increasing innovation, but it's important to separate out the recruiting function, which can impact corporate innovation by re-engineering candidate sourcing and assessment systems to support the hiring of more innovative individuals.

As a talent management or recruiting professional, the following steps should increase the success rate in hiring innovative individuals:

1. Make hiring innovators a primary goal.

Before you even begin the planning process, you must set as one of your primary goals and metrics in recruiting the increased hiring of more innovative individuals. Try to get a senior hiring manager to be your champion in this effort.

2. Realise the current system may be broken.

Your current system probably restricts the hiring of innovators. Look at every phase of the hiring process to see where non-traditional, diverse, and/or innovative individuals are most likely to be screened out, overlooked, or discouraged. This process should include telephone interviews and surveys with individuals who appeared to have a high capability to innovate, yet they either dropped out or were screened out by failure to comply within system parameters. Typical barriers include applicant-tracking systems that cannot adequately process "creative" CVs and interview approaches that systematically reject individuals who act and think outside the box.

3. Develop a hiring plan for innovators.

Create a checklist of which problems and barriers are most critical, starting with the jobs where innovation has a clear profit impact. In that plan, prioritise your jobs and business units to make sure that your limited resources and time are directed toward those jobs that, when filled with innovators, have the most business impact.

4. Create your brand recognition.

Don't expect to have any success in hiring innovative people if you don't make an effort to spread the word by writing and speaking about how your firm desires innovators and more important, provides them with opportunities to continually innovate and take risks. The employment branding function must develop a plan to spread stories and provide differentiated examples to potential candidates. Branding should start by developing an innovation "story inventory" (a list of stories about how individuals have been allowed to innovate) that can be used to increase your visibility in industry publications. The department must also identify what magazines and websites innovative people frequently read, and make a special attempt to get mentioned in those publications and sites. Employees should be encouraged to mention innovativeness in their blogs, in chat rooms, and on listservs. Finally, branding can develop a slogan that can be used both internally and externally to emphasise your focus on innovation.

5. Encourage external hiring.

If your organisation is currently conservative and scores low on the risk-taking scale, you might find hiring external innovators a lot easier than transforming current risk-adverse employees. If you believe in the importance of the diversity of thinking, it's a good idea to split your new hires so that some significant percentage of the individuals who fill vacancies come from outside the corporation. Some should be fresh out of school, while others should be industry leaders. Some should come from outside your specific industry and still others should come from outside your own country. Yes, it's important to promote individuals internally, but if you want radical ideas and innovation, most of these individuals are likely to be found outside your corporation.

6. Job descriptions.

Unfortunately, most job descriptions don't mention the need for innovation at all. If you expect to be successful, the desire for innovation must be part of every job description and person specification and assessing the need for innovation should be part of every job analysis.

7. Advertising.

Innovation must be part of every job announcement, recruitment ad, and recruiting brochure. Incidentally, you can't just use the word innovation, because everyone does that. Instead, clearly differentiate how your jobs allow individuals more freedom to innovate and take risks than other firms. Use your organisation's "culture of innovation" as an attraction tool to bring in the very best innovators in every job category. In addition, interview your own innovators to ask them what they read, what events they go to, and what organisations they join so that you can make sure your job postings appear in those venues.

8. Referral focus.

Nothing improves the recruiting of any targeted group better than specifically asking your employees to be on the lookout for referrals who have those skills or characteristics. Refocus your referral program so it is clear to every employee that you're looking for innovators and that you expect them to identify them whenever they come across these individuals at events, online, or in their reading and benchmarking. If you do it right, expect the majority of your innovative candidates to come from these targeted employee referrals.

9. Initial CV screening.

The initial screening process for CVs is usually a primary barrier to innovation. Redesign your system so that it includes options for accepting out-of-the-box curriculum vitae formats and content. It is a fact that some innovative people refuse to produce standard CVs. Innovative individuals frequently offer no CV or they may offer anything from poems, DVDs, or online portfolios. The key is to make sure that your process doesn't outright reject innovative applications and that it instead captures and gives special treatment to these individuals. Periodically test the system with excellent out-of-the-box CVs to see what percentage are prematurely screened out.

10. The interview.

After CV screening, the interview is a second weak link in hiring innovators. The interview, and in fact the entire assessment process, must be redesigned so that it is tolerant and inclusive (i.e., expect some craziness) if you expect to get a single innovative person hired. The interview should include elements that specifically require/allow applicants to demonstrate out-of-the-box thinking. The process must not be so structured as to inhibit or even punish creative thinkers. Unfortunately, most current recruiting programs immediately screen out any individual who varies even slightly from the norm. Innovative employees should be specifically included in the hiring and screening teams in order to excite the candidates, as well as to accurately assess the most innovative candidates. Novel ideas that are captured during the interview process should also be forwarded to the appropriate internal sources.

11. Simulations and creativity assessments.

Whether an online pre-screening tool or verbal scenario provided during the interview process, simulations are an effective tool that can excite as well as assess potential applicants. There are a variety of online assessment tools, innovation/creativity tests, and simulations available to capture candidates' ideas.

12. Contests.

Because most interview formats do not assess the candidate's ability to innovate, recruiting teams needs to consider contests as a supplement to help identify those that offer innovative ideas and approaches to the problems faced by the company. Companies like TopCoder have been used by firms like Microsoft and Google to identify relatively unknown programmers from around the world. Their "contest" format attracts a large number of applicants and serves as an effective screen device for identifying those with the most innovative approaches. While a contest will obviously provide you with some great candidates, it may also provide you with a good number of innovative solutions to your existing problems.

13. Improve the candidate experience.

Most hiring processes are just plain ugly when it comes to customer service and providing a great candidate experience. That weakness becomes critical when you're attempting to hire innovative individuals because they are almost always in high demand. Being in high demand means that they have many options and as a result, they're less tolerant of being treated poorly during any hiring process. In fact, many will judge the innovativeness of your screening process as an indication of your company's actual state of innovation. As a result, if your screening process is dull or intolerant of risk takers, most will take it as a warning sign and will drop out. If you want to recruit great innovators, revise your recruiting process (and least for these particular individuals) so they are allowed to be themselves and are treated with the same level of respect that they get at their current employer. Give honest feedback to these high-demand innovators, and try to tailor your job opportunity to fit their unique interests and capabilities. If you treat them poorly, not only will they not take a job, but you can also expect them to spread the word that your company doesn't "walk the talk."

14. The corporate website.

Almost all candidates, innovative or not, will test the validity of what they have heard by visiting your corporate website. If the message they get there differs from what they've heard, you will lose them in an instant. As a result, it's absolutely essential that your corporate job site contain some compelling and impressive elements. Emphasise your corporation's desire for hiring innovative individuals; perhaps profile how the corporation allows individuals to be different and innovate.

15. Target "magnet" hires.

An effective way of attracting innovators is having the recruiting team specifically identify and target well-known individuals who are known for their innovation. Many organisations use the hiring of industry or functional icons as a type of magnet to attract other innovators and to send a message, internally and externally, that innovation is critical in your corporation's future and that if you are innovative, this is the place to be.

16. Follow through with induction.

Unfortunately, even after they accept your offer, the need to reinforce your message is critical. As part of the induction process, emphasise the importance of innovation in your organisation, educate the new hire on how and where to report ideas, and share how innovation is rewarded.

17. Follow up with retention.

Even though the recruiting team doesn't control retention, it is in their best interest to work with retention program managers to ensure that new hires don't immediately exit out the back door. The key is to make sure that the promises made during the hiring are kept during the first six months. If they are not, the recruiting team must work to re-deploy these individuals to areas where they can thrive.

18. Improve with metrics.

No matter how well your system is designed, it's critical that you track your success and failures in hiring innovative individuals. Use metrics to improve and quantify the revenue impact that your innovation hiring effort has had on the organisation.

Final thoughts

Not everyone in recruiting thinks that they can have an impact on corporate innovation, but nothing can be further from the truth. With staff turnover rates increasing and most companies planning on both organic and non-organic growth, the opportunity to hire innovators is present.

Incidentally, recruiters can make a major impact beyond research and development, product development, and marketing. The recurring function must also look for innovative individuals who manage processes, customer satisfaction, and company expansion to ensure that the entire umbrella of corporate functions are innovating at essentially equal rates.

While surfing the net I found this article, hope you people would like it.

The Past, Present and Future Workforce

As a “seasoned” Human Resource generalist, it is interesting to listen to all the pundits and professionals talk about the generational differences in the workforce. That is not to belittle the fact that there are generational differences, but I believe most of those differences could be captured and utilized effectively if organizations would look to the past and the present to determine how they will get to the future.

According to business surveys, there are currently 4 generations in the workplace. Those born before 1945 (called Veterans), those born between 1945 and mid-1960 (called Boomers), those born between 1965 and 1980 (known as Gen Xers), and those born after 1980 (either Nexters or Gen Yers). This creates a minimum age span difference of at least 35 years.

This may not seem to be significant by itself, but I remember when I turned 21, I thought 35 was ancient. Now that I am a part of the seasoned generation (also known as the middle of the road between the Veterans and Boomers), 35 is a youngster. What I believe business owners need to understand is how the past that employees and clients bring to the marketplace influences the present and which in turn will influence the future.

The life span of the average individual is much longer today than it was 100 years ago. Moreover, some experts say it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the life span over the next 50 years will increase from the current 75 or 80 years to 100 to 120 years. What does this mean to the workforce of the future? Most likely, it means that individuals will be extending their work years, so the workforce may include not just the 4 generations of today, but 5 generations working together.

If, we as business owners, can prepare our businesses and our staff for the changes in the workplace, the impact on our revenues, our hiring, and our client retention will be better understood. I believe we get to this understanding by remembering where we came from.

The Past
The Veteran generation came out of the depression era and a world war. It was a time when radios ruled the airwaves, telephones were party-lines that you shared with your neighbors, where reading was the norm, and communication was through writing letters. In an office, typewriters were the predominate office equipment and there were no copiers, you made carbon copies when you typed a document. Telephones where managed through the cord systems and most jobs were held by men. Few women worked and usually only before they married. Self-sufficiency was the norm as you learned to make due with what you had. I grew up “poor” but I didn’t know it because everyone else was in the same boat.

The war (WWII) brought the first major changes to the economy and to the workforce. With the men off fighting the war, women became a predominate feature of the workplace. They found they could do the same jobs as the men they replaced and still be a wife, mother, sister, etc. They were the start of the multitasking need in the workforce. WWII and its aftermath brought other changes, such as television, time saving appliances like refrigerators, electric stoves and ovens, washing machines and dryers, mixers, etc. Why were these important? They gave the homemaker free time and with that time came the need to do something - like work. I asked my Mother, on New Year’s Eve 1999, “What was the most important invention of the 20 Century?” I thought the answer would be the computer, microwave, or air travel. Her answer surprised me, as she believed it was the invention of the electric washer and dryer. Laundry day used to be an all day chore with ironing and hand washing. The electric washer and dryer freed up time for the busy homemaker to pursue other avenues, such as working outside the home. Thus the Boomer generation was born.

The Boomers came from a more affluent time, when technology was starting to blossom and that technology brought more time for work and more time for leisure. Vacations, education, and volunteering were a part of the landscape, where they were only for the rich and famous before. This time also brought unrest. Civil rights, politics, assassinations, and riots were also part of the scene. Changes in music - from the Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller to Elvis made it difficult for parents and children to communicate. Flower Power was in - much to the dismay of many parents. Reading was still important, but television and movies were there to bring the stories to life. Writing letters was still important to the communication process, however.

In the workplace, the Boomers brought technology to a high place - electric typewriters made life much easier, copiers provided instant renditions of documents without the pain of multiple carbon copies. The old cord switchboards were replaced with PBX systems and at the outer fringes was the unknown computer.

From about 1965 to 1980 saw the biggest technological changes since the Industrial Revolution. These changes are still being felt today. Not only did we set foot on the Moon, we started to look at our quality of life - both in the home and in the office. It was the start of the “Instant” or “Now” generation. We had instant coffee, instant juice, instant news.

The era from 1980 to the new Century brought huge changes - both in our home and work lives. At home, we saw both parents working so the youngsters became self-sufficient and in some cases, selfish. Fast food and fast music became a part of their generation. The technological advances included cell phones, video recorders, television 24 hours a day and most important, the immergence of the computer as a staple in our lives and the introduction to the Internet.

Reading was not as important, as we became a more visual society with block-buster movies and made for TV dramas. Moreover, the art of writing became lost with the use of text messaging and email and Internet websites. This generation of workers saw more family disharmony, less family togetherness and thus, in my estimation, became more self-centered. They wanted to know what was in it for them. They also wanted more “free” time to do what they wanted to do while not at work. Work was not as important to them as having the freedom to take a trip when they wanted. They saw companies lay-off and let go their long-term employees without any obvious concern so they decided they wouldn’t care either.

In the workplace, technology also changed the landscape. Now, typewriters are outdated and computers sit on every desk. Even in the manufacturing environment, computer kiosks are available to check policies, benefits, and other company information. Voice mail and automated telephone systems now rule and even sales clerks in department stores are now Service Centers where the customer goes to get help instead of the sales clerks/representatives seeking the client out to help them.

The Present
All of these generations bring us to the here and now - the Present. How we interact with one another, both from a family perspective and from a work perspective, are part of what generation we are coming from. Veterans and Boomers are more inclined to tell stories and listen carefully. GenXers and Yers are more self-centered and independent. One generation wants to tell the other generation how to do something (like it use to be done in the past) and the new generation doesn’t want to take advantage of the past history - they want to do it themselves.

The biggest problem is that while the new generation will probably find their way to get it done, and will get it done beautifully, if they would just take time to listen to the older generation they might get it done more timely and efficiently.

The present workplace is full of technological advances. These advances have allowed workplaces to become more flexible and to even provide opportunities for working from home (in some cases). The Internet has changed our approach to sales and marketing as more and more people use the Internet for their personal shopping mall. It has also brought frustration in that you can find it difficult to speak to a real person as you keep pushing numbers to try to get customer satisfaction.

Because of the generational differences in the home and workplace, there doesn’t seem to be as much loyalty as there was during the Veterans and Boomers era. Employment during those years was for life, while the average time with a company today is anywhere from three to 5 years. Workers today may have as many as three different careers in their life. There is more emphasis put on the work/life balance than ever before.

The workers of today are more concerned about the environment and what they and their organization need to do to go green. While we are not in a worldwide war, we are in conflicts around the world. Both sets of parents probably still need to work, but the care of the children and the home are being shared by the parents.

The Future
The education of the youth of today, who will become tomorrow’s workforce, is in dire need of an overhaul. The reading, writing and arithmetic philosophy need to be reestablished. Text messaging a report in the office will not cut it. Technology will continue to change the environment in which we live and work. However, in order to succeed, the generations need to stop and talk to one another and to understand where they are coming from.

Business owners need to be able to identify the different skills that the generations have and to utilize them more efficiently and effectively. This will not only benefit the organization, but will help the workers get along better and thus be able to help one another adjust to the changes they encounter.

The GenXers, GenYers and the Newbies (those born after 2000 that are not yet in the workplace) have to keep in mind; someday they too will be the seasoned worker, dealing with those pesky youngsters. And, those pesky youngsters will have the opportunity to learn from the past as they deal with the present and get ready for the future.

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The Past, Present and Future Workforce ? EffortlessHR Blog

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