Posted by: garispang | June 4, 2009

Asking the Right Questions to Get the Right People!

Part Four – What Bus? Where? Getting The Right People On The Bus!

HR under the microscope.

The most fundamental questions for senior management when considering how to get the optimal result from HR is what are they currently doing and why?
Some examples:

1. Are they focussed on attracting top talent or on building up databases of resumes?
If your HR department is not actively developing relationships with those applicants whose resumes your database holds then vital resources are being wasted. And if they are not being measured on this, you might want to re-examine your metrics…

Chances are your business has spent thousands, hundreds of thousands, or indeed millions on building up databases of people who once wanted to work for your business,

Do they still want to work for you? If you have done nothing for them since they applied the answer may well be a resounding “no”.

If automated, your system may not have matched their resume against a job description at the specific point in time. If this is the case chances are they will never come up in a system match, and as such your business will never benefit from their talent.

This person who once wanted to work for your business, now does not.

Worse, they are likely to tell others (be that online or face to face) about the bad experience they had dealing with you

Indeed, there are numerous websites that exist to do just that, get information from those who have dealt with or worked for major organisations and share it. is a case in point.

2. Does the business have a clearly defined and consistently communicated employer value proposition?
According to a recent survey by Chandler Macleod, only 29% of organizations have developed a formal Employment Value Proposition (EVP).

Therefore 71% of businesses are unable to consistently and effectively communicate a meaningful message that entices talented job seekers and encourages current employees to stay.

Can you imagine a business not having a brand value proposition for a product or service – not being able to consistently articulate why people should pay for their products or services?

And yet, the majority of businesses still continue operating without an effective EVP in an overcrowded and competitive job market.

Your EVP needs to be relevant and consistent.

If those who are communicating with potential job seekers in your business are sending out different messages of what your business has to offer, or cannot communicate why a candidate should work in your business, then they are wasting the candidates’ time and damaging the business.

3. Are your best HR people in the front line to interact with top talent when it wants to connect with your business?
First impressions count! They say in the interview process that the interviewer decides within the first few minutes.

Today, the job seekers are just as likely to be assessing the interviewer and if your HR people are not top shelf, it is unlikely that the top talent is going to be excited about working for your business.

Alternatively, the hiring manager will have to do an exceptional job to make up for the “not so positive” first impression.

There are some fantastic HR people out there, and we hope that your business has some of these gems.

Where possible be sure to put your best and brightest in front of the talent you are looking to win over and bring onboard. Relegating the task to the most junior HR person is an act of self sabotage.

4. Are you equipped to find the best candidates with your current structure?
A recent survey by ZDnet reported that 81% of salary earners prefer to go direct to the business.

Therefore outsourcing a core function of your business appears to be off-putting for some top talent. That said, this is a difficult one as some businesses simply don’t have the resources to do it themselves or the expertise.

For others it may be that they have the resources, however the resources are focussed on the wrong things i.e. growing big databases of obsolete resumes.

Do you have an internal HR and or Recruitment team? What are their key functions? Is attracting and retaining top talent the priority of this area?

And, most importantly – how do you measure their success ?

5. How innovative and progressive are your business and HR department?
A recent survey by Chandler Macleod has confirmed that the majority of HR Departments engage in traditional and outdated hiring approaches. They go with what they know and have done before as opposed to trying new things.

In an age where change is a given and the demographics of the workforce so varied, businesses that have a traditional HR department will not attract the top talent they are invariably after.

Some questions to ask are: How open is your HR team to new technology and new ways of doing things? What have they implemented or introduced lately that is progressive and bringing about real value and significant results for your business?

6. How much time and money is spent on Employer Branding?
Today businesses need to be marketing their Employer Brand and their employee value proposition 24/7, be that in print, online, radio, through stories and anecdotes, PR and so on.

It is not simply a matter of marketing your products and services. Real time and money needs to be spent on marketing your Employer Brand.

Today your Employer Brand is what job seekers in the market define it as.

It is up to you to ensure that you are generating appealing and consistent messages that define your business’s brand.

Many companies are amazed to find that their perception of their business is entirely different to the market’s perception.

To re-iterate – your EVP is a vital weapon in the war for talent.

Which brings us back to where we started. Getting the right people on the bus to ensure your businesses’ ongoing success.

As we noted in our first piece from this series: without exception, the successful companies described by Collins in “Good to great” ensured they had the most talented people on the bus and worried later about the details.

Ask the right questions, find the right approach and you’ll ensure your business has a smooth ride ahead.


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