Analyzing the Applicant: Employment Gaps, Education, and Self-Discovery

The struggle to find the perfect fit for your organization, whether it be in the warehouse shipping packages or greeting customers at the front desk or the top sales executive, can be intense and exhausting for everyone involved. The struggle is very real to recruit top talent that not only has the skills, knowledge, and experience required to succeed in the position but is also the right fit for your company culture. The perfect candidate for the leading pharmaceutical sales company nationwide will not be the same ideal applicant for a high-end boutique hospitality resort and spa. The characteristics that would lead one to success would possibly lead to failure for another.

In today’s fast-paced, media-driven, instantaneous information at our fingertips world, certain things that would be a major red flag fifty years ago are no longer such a huge cause for concern. The baby boomers worked hard to find a stable career path, and vowed their loyalty to one company for the vast majority of their working years. The Generation X’ers value education and seek a work-life balance while maintaining a pragmatic viewpoint of the world, while the Millennials question authority, demand challenges and want to find work that means something. So how do you, as the employer, seek out the perfect fit for any given role in your company? Here is a handy checklist for you to consider when evaluating candidates, and make sure you don’t let those employment gaps get in the way of your analysis. Just like a job hopper was viewed as disloyal and unable to commit to a job twenty years ago, employment gaps are not as detrimental to a resume as you may think.

  1. Does the candidate match your required skills, knowledge and abilities?
  2. Does the candidate meet your educational requirements?
  3. Does the candidate have the desired years of experience or background in the field?
  4. What employment gaps does the candidate show on his or her resume? When interviewed, what explanation does he or she have for each?
      1. Travel – travel and self-discovery are not bad things. A little time off between school and the “real world” may translate into a more determined and enthusiastic employee so dig deep on this one and consider the source.
      2. Education – keep in mind that community colleges in certain areas (especially Southern CA where Peoplescape is headquartered) are so overcrowded that many students struggle to earn an income and take a full class load due to scheduling conflicts.
      3. Family – time off may have been spent parenting or taking care of ill family members. From personal experience, I know those parenting years are no walk in the park, so a gap doesn’t mean the candidate was sitting home eating popcorn and watching soap operas. However, it could impact the candidate’s current knowledge of the field and recent legislature or other time-sensitive details so be mindful of this when recruiting.
      4. Economic downturns – even top talent is let go in layoffs so don’t scratch someone off your list because they were a victim of the economic twists and turns.
  • Conduct at least two interviews with different players involved. – Maybe the first one is done by HR, and the second is conducted by a panel of peers, supervisors, and potential colleagues.
  • What do the references have to say? – Although references should be people that the applicant feels would represent him or her in a positive light, by asking the right questions of the references, you can gain insight you would not receive from the candidate directly.

A thorough investigation is required for any great hiring decision. Make sure you complete your due diligence as the hiring manager or human resources expert or CEO. Making a hasty decision without analyzing the candidate may lead to unhappy parties all around.

Thought Leaders Series #4: Social Recruiting & Local Talent

As discussed in the previous few posts, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) issued a special edition of their HR Magazine earlier this year, featuring the world’s top experts on a variety of human resources topics. Today, we are going to take a look at the ways in which social media are changing recruitment across the world and how this phenomenon affects local talent and ultimately, your business. So, let’s jump in and take a look at what Danielle Monaghan, head of talent acquisition at @Amazon in Seattle, has to say about the coming trends.

  • Global recruitment takes on a mobile element – As more companies shift to using application platforms that utilize mobile technology, global recruitment will take place on a larger scale since it is now easier to reach candidates around the world.
  • According to data from Jobsite and other leading survey groups, roughly 75% of job seekers now utilize smartphones and other mobile devices to research companies, apply for jobs, and network with professionals in the industry.
  • Mobile job application capabilities (aka companies having the technology and utilizing these options will snatch up the star talent before anyone else can!) will no longer be nice to have. They’ll be necessary for success!
  • A widening skills gap will call for global talent acquisition strategies. In other words, because the skills gap will continue to grow in the U.S., companies will be looking overseas to find star talent with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed with little hand-holding.
  • Social professional networks will become a critical source for finding top talent. Think LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Makerbase to name a few. Don’t have a LinkedIn account? Now’s the time to set it up because by the end of 2016, this is predicted to be a huge source of networking for your organization!

Although we’ve seen it in other articles and blogs for the past several years, it seems 2016 is undeniably the year of mobile and social technology. Now’s the time to get connected and check into those mobile job application services. Position yourself and your company for success rather than trying to play catch-up too late in the game.

What Can Recruiters Learn from the NFL?

According to Chris Murphy at Glassdoor, the NFL made an estimated $12 billion, making it the top gross earning sports league in the world. One of the reasons is the way that the NFL builds up the lives of the star players, not just focusing on the sports stats but also bringing in the human aspect. Remember our blog a short time ago about personal branding and humanizing your company trademark? Here’s another layer to that argument, brought to you by the most popular sport in America in February.

According to the producer of Sunday Night Football, the show does not focus solely on the plays. We get a glimpse into the players’ personal lives, backstage pass to the locker room interviews, and a video of each player introducing himself. When we live in a world where roughly 40% of the population identifies with visual images over plain text content, it is critical for companies to promote themselves in a way (social media, anyone?) that will hit the mark for these audiences. Visual images and company trademarks and graphics (the world-famous Nike symbol and that gorgeous Carl’s Jr. model chomping down on a juicy burger) strike a chord with the audience, especially in today’s world of instant gratification and an overwhelming amount of information thrown at us from all avenues throughout the day.

So we’ve already touched on how you as a company can make use of this visual imagery in your company branding. But how can recruiters in your organization learn something from the NFL? Here are a few ideas on how to attract stars for your company in the recruitment process.

1. Recruit with a smile – do you recruit on social media platforms such as LinkedIn? Make sure your recruiters have a profile with a real personal feel, pictures help!

2. Online interviews via Skype or other platforms such as Spark Hire are another option for face-to-face even when the interviews are being done remotely.

3. Create stories that will attract top talent.

4. Share your brand and the face of your team on social media. People want to make connections with other people!

5. Fan identification is big in the NFL – why not stretch this across to your organization and develop your own fan base on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

For more on this topic, check out Glassdoor for Employers on Instagram @gdforemployers.

Do You Really Need a Recruiter Anymore?

Not that long ago, for critical positions, hiring managers would often reach out to recruiters to help them find those stellar candidates. Recruiters had the unique ability to find and connect with passive job candidates that would otherwise not respond to a “help wanted” advertisement. In recent years, however, with the rise of LinkedIn and other professional networking sites, employers seem to be able to reach passive candidates much easier without using a recruiter. This begs the question – Is the relationship between recruiter and HR Business Partner dead? #recruiter #careeradvice

The answer may not be as crystal clear as a “yes” or “no”, but we can certainly agree that the relationship is changing! Talent pools are changing. Yes, employers now have access to a similar online talent pool that recruiters use, but do they have the “in” with professional groups? Do they regularly attend networking events where passive job seekers may be more involved? My guess is probably not. Furthermore, if a member of your organization made a call to a direct Competitor to solicit talent and set up an interview, chances are the cat would be out of the bag pretty quickly. A recruiter can make that contact under the recruitment firm name and it’s a lot less taboo.

Recruiters still have a leg up on the time to fill. With all the other things hiring managers have to handle, do they have the time to commit to a proper lengthy conversation with job candidates about their bigger career goals? Sure, if it’s truly critical, all other processes could be put on hold to focus on finding the right talent, but going back to the
talent pool question, is the HR team as connected to available talent as a recruiter?

Remember that recruiters specialize in the art of finding and matching people to the right position. They have their hands on the pulse of the job market. They will be able to advise you on what is realistic for the search in regards to salary, skill set, available talent, and competition for similar positions. This is all information a hiring manager likely wouldn’t have by simply posting a job on a job board. Recruiters are instrumental in finding the perfect fit for a company because they offer impartiality that a company representative will not have. They can also help broker the
best deal between the candidate and the company, often able to see both sides of the story so to speak, without being biased one way or another in a way that would interfere with objective decision-making. Another great point as to why recruiters are beneficial to your screening process is the fact that recruiters can go into a competitor’s office and try to attract the best talent – where a company may not feel as comfortable doing this. Also, recruiters allow the candidate to speak first to an “outsider” without having to speak directly to the company on first sight. These reasons all make the process smoother for both the candidate and the company!

Recruiters increase the likelihood that candidates will say yes. Good recruiters put a significant amount of energy into understanding their candidates and their perspective employers. By having a middleman involved in the process, the recruiter serves as the perfect matchmaker after the first “date.” Recruiters ask both parties how did it go and can manage expectations of both parties in advance. Candidates will likely share info with a recruiter, like that they didn’t feel the culture was a good fit, that they wouldn’t share with a company representative. I think we can all agree how frustrating/disheartening it is to find “the candidate” and then get your offer turned down.

Ultimately, yes almost anyone in your organization can go online and start looking for candidates, but recruiters are specialists! So my answer is “NO” the relationship is not dead. Maybe for an entry-level position you may not call a recruiter, but for those key positions, they are a huge value-add to your organization.

A Personal Touch: Make Your Company Brand Human

Why do people recognize the brands in commercials featuring a happy child eating cereal or a supermodel chowing down on a messy cheeseburger? Among other reasons such as the fact that she’s a supermodel, duh, is the undeniable fact that people identify with the human quality in these ads. So how do you get your company brand to have that personal touch that is easily recognizable on social media? First, you need to humanize your brand. Make sure that you use images and words that will speak to your target audience. Not sure who your target audience is? Then it’s definitely time for a strategic planning session with your management team! #personaltouch #companybrand #socialmedia

Second, you’ll need to switch gears a bit and move from corporate speak to the personal stories of why your company is amazing, and that has to come from employees and managers alike. Share posts from your employees about how great your company is, use blog posts from your staff writers to bring up topics on social media, and share photos and real-life examples of what your company is all about. For example, did your company sponsor a toy drive or canned food drive for the holidays? If so, share that on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages. People want to see that your company is one that values its employees and has a vision larger than itself.

Get involved in conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter. Make your company brand something that people recognize not only by your logo or profile picture, but also by what you do and say. Be consistent in your posts, and share a common message across your social media outlets. That doesn’t mean you need to copy and paste everything from one outlet to another, but you should have a similar voice on every company branding tool out there for the masses! Engagement in group discussions, responding to influential people in your field, and tagging others is a great way to get more exposure for your company brand and to make a name for yourself. Human resources itself is all about people, so why not extend that approach to your company brand as well? Give that personal touch and you will see amazing responses! Now get out there and post, share, like, comment, and tag away!!

Speed Dating (aka Interviews) in 4 Easy Steps

What selection tools do you have in place at work? Are you the hiring manager for your department? Or does the HR Department handle all phases of selection and recruitment for your organization? At Peoplescape, our consultants are HR professionals who have sat across the table on an interview panel, and have devised a strategy for hiring the best and brightest in several fields. We have found tips that make interviews more challenging, and also bring out responses that give you, as the interviewer, some insight into the candidates you are screening. Here are a few of our top tips for making your speed dating (aka interview) process a bit easier next time around.

Step 1: Do not stay away from the “tough” questions. Instead, have a reason for asking them and make sure the question applies to the position so you can get a feel for the candidate’s response in real on-the-job situations.

Step 2: Set expectations for the job, and both you and the candidate will be more prepared for what’s to come. Don’t fall prey to the all-too-common scenario of an employee leaving a new job after a short time because they didn’t get a sense of what the job actually was prior to accepting the role.

Step 3: Screen for candidates based not only on their skill set, but on their culture fit with your organization. Company culture is a huge component to finding the best and brightest for your team!

Step 4: Use additional tools wherever possible. The more information you have to assist in the selection process, the better off you will be. Job suitability assessments, meetings with colleagues and team brainstorming, and engaging with the candidate in various settings such as lunch meeting, group activity, and on-the-job observations are all great ways to gauge the fit for a certain candidate on your team.

But, you may ask, what’s the point? The goal of a successful interview process is qualified, satisfied, productive employees. So by following these steps, you are stepping up your interview game. Which, let’s face it, is a freakishly similar process to the concept of speed dating where you awkwardly sit at a table, chatting with a stranger for 5-10 minutes, and then deciding if you want to see them again. At Peoplescape, that’s also what we do! So if you’re tired of the game, call in for a backup and we’d be happy to assist!

Shiny New Toys: Attracting Your Next Millennial Stars

Like moths to the flame, millennials are attracted to shiny new objects. Right? Isn’t that the perception for our younger generation in today’s workplace? But shockingly, the one thing that attracts millennials to your organization more than a new cell phone, a company car or the latest in Apple technology on their desktop, is something that used to be much more prevalent. It has since fallen to the wayside as priorities seem to have shifted for many companies, and budgets become more constrained for those “extra benefits” that used to be more present.

What is it that millennials are searching for in their next company? Are you ready for it? Money! Shocked? I know I was. But more specifically than money, millennials are actually looking for repayment assistance for student loans when considering their next employer. A recent survey conducted by SHRM found that less than 1% of employers plan to offer this benefit to new hires, but it is the foremost thing on fresh grads’ minds as they struggle to pay off their student loans while starting out in a new career.

One company that has decided to jump in with both feet is Price Waterhouse Coopers (@PWCareer) where employees are offered $1200 to pay back student loans each year. For someone fresh out of college, this is a huge benefit because their actual paycheck is being spent on adult things that they may be brand new to dealing with: rent, electricity, groceries, gas, even the dreaded laundromat visits. As more employers get on board with this benefit, it may have a huge payoff for them as well, when new college grads seek out companies that will help them pay off their student loan debt. New hires may also be more inclined to be productive and stick around if their needs are being met.

Let’s be honest here, friends, a brand new cell phone or a shiny tablet probably won’t hurt either! To really make a difference, you have to get to the core of what the millennials need. And student loan repayment assistance is certainly on the top of the list!


Recruiting Metrics: What do the Numbers Really Mean?

Recruiting metrics can look as convoluted as the formula for finding the square root of pi if you don’t know what it is you are looking at. I myself am admittedly not a numbers gal. I’d prefer to write a 5000 word essay over a page of multiplication and algebraic equations any day! And this is fairly common for human resources professionals, as we don’t always identify ourselves as “numbers” people. However, in order to be efficient recruiting experts, understanding the numbers of it all is critical to adopting and utilizing an effective strategy for finding the best people to join your team! So, as with most things that make us uncomfortable in life, the ideal way to understand the metrics is to get comfortable with the numbers game.

Recruiting Metrics: What do the numbers really mean?

In 2012, SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) released their first human resources metric standard survey. While not the most exhilarating piece of reading material, it does attempt to set the stage for how and why metrics in recruitment and HR in general matter.

The first issue is the cost per hire calculation (CPHC). This is discovered by looking at the external recruiting costs plus the internal recruiting costs, divided by the total number of hires during a given time period. This information will quantify the resources you are devoting to recruiting (either internally or externally) and the cost-effectiveness of this effort.

The second issue is what I would like to spend some time on here, because it seems to be the more critical piece of this particular puzzle. There are so many different numbers you could look at for HR: employee absenteeism rates, worker’s compensation costs per employee, HR staff to overall staff ratio, human capital cost (factoring in the cost of benefits), and many more. However, the one I’d like to take a look at is the turnover rate. We’ve written a lot about terminations and new hires, and this all factors into the company’s turnover rate which then affects the cost of recruitment and the budget for new hire and selection. By understanding your company’s numbers in terms of recruitment and turnover, you can better determine where you need to spend your selection/search funds, and how you can make the most of your money in this area. Understanding these numbers and knowing how to search, how to hire, how to screen, and how to onboard will likely decrease your turnover rate, which then helps with training costs, new employee onboarding processes, time spent setting up new hire emails, accounts, etc. So for all of my fellow non-numbers people, I’d suggest turning your attention to these particular numbers, because everyone knows the dollar speaks volumes when it comes to metrics in the workplace!

Hiring People Where They Are

Meeting people where they are is a common theme amongst community groups and churches. Why not adopt this same mantra in the workplace when it comes to attracting top talent? Meeting job applicants where they happen to be is a critical next step in where recruitment is headed in 2016. Whether that may be on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, or simply by utilizing mobile job applications that can be easily accessed on cell phones and tablets, this is something that employers need to seriously consider when analyzing their recruiting success and failure in 2015, and moving forward with a game plan for the coming year.

According to Tom Epperson of, meeting people where they are simply means, “diagnosing their values, their style, their needs, and their emotions, and connecting with them in a way that is effective for them.” This is also known as the platinum rule…much like the golden rule of treating others as you wish to be treated, the platinum rule encourages spending time to get to know the person you are working with, understanding what makes them tick and what works for them. This is an ideal practice when it comes to recruiting the stars for your team, because your people may be hanging out on Facebook, but you are more of a LinkedIn person. Doing some online research to find out the hot spots for your ideal candidates, or following them on Facebook or Twitter to see what is relevant in their worlds, this can go a long way towards attracting the talent pool that you are after in your organization.

Doing the same things and expecting change is the definition of insanity. Don’t be crazy, and utilize the tools at your disposal. Use mobile job applications whether that may be an in-house app that your tech department can set up just for your company, or utilize the mobile job application functions within the recruiting giants of Monster and Indeed. It’s safe to say that most job seekers in the 40 and under set are NOT scouring newspapers on Sunday, circling the job ads that they want to visit or call on Monday morning. Most job seekers are looking on their phones, while they are out running errands, visiting with friends or watching NFL games in the local dive bar on Sunday. Mobile is where it’s at…and that’s where your stars are most likely to be.

If you’re unsure of the mobile job applications and systems that will work best for your company, please feel free to contact us. Our HR professionals have utilized these specific tools in their own workplace and can make helpful suggestions for what might work for your organization!

What Can Social Media Do For Your Selection Process

When meeting new people, whether in social settings or professional meetings or conferences, instead of asking for business cards or phone numbers, we’re seeing a new trend. “What’s your LinkedIn profile?” or “What’s your IG?” These social media avenues have become a personal stamp or signature, putting our own personal brand into the mix of celebrities, companies, and products. Of course, it makes sense then that companies would use social media to target new superstars to join their organization. But like with any new technology tool, companies must be careful with how they use social media for recruitment. It’s critical to represent your organization in the same way online as you would in a face-to-face meeting, and to be consistent with your approach. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for playing the social media recruitment game! Good luck!


  1. Do have a presence across various avenues of social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube…the options are endless!
  2. Do make deliberate decisions – use a social media tool such as to schedule posts and do your research to make sure you are posting at a time that will be effective for job seekers!
  3. Engage in conversations – use LinkedIn group forums or respond to tweets and posts in order to engage your audience. If your presence is real and known, your results will be better!
  4. Do use social media to conduct mini background checks…Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram all give a sneak peek into the candidate behind that professional resume. Social media is public information that you have access to, so use it!
  5. Be consistent – this is a good business practice in general, but definitely applies to social media recruiting. Fair, equitable, and consistent postings and interaction with your audience are key to success in utilizing social media to benefit your organization and the HR department!


  1. Miracles CAN happen….but don’t expect them to! Patience and diligence will pay off in the long run, even if it seems like a really long journey to get there.
  2. Don’t count solely on social media. There are (GASP!) some people who do not use social media at all, so when advertising for certain positions, analyze the best places/tools to utilize to find your target audience.
  3. Don’t make any guarantees online…again, social media is a public forum. Encourage everyone to apply equally, and follow up with qualified candidates by phone or email. Keep the process under wraps, while utilizing social media to broadcast open positions. Be smart about your postings, because EVERYONE can see them!
  4. Don’t make decisions based solely on a candidate’s profile…follow all legal obligations and EEO guidelines throughout your recruitment and selection process.

Don’t write social media off as a passing trend…from MySpace in the early 2000s to the world of Instagram today, social media is here to stay. So accept it and use it to your advantage!