The Williamson Difference: HR Answers That Work

4 Predictions For HR And Talent Acquisition In 2019

January 15, 2019


It seems like the recruiting industry was in a constant state of change throughout 2018.  

In the last 12 months, we faced an historically tight labor market, the initial impacts of Google’s entry into the talent acquisition space, and the gearing up for and the introduction of GDPR.
Additionally, new technology disrupted the industry daily with mobile, social, and AI leading the charge.

With the New Year fast approaching, let’s take a look back at some of the top recruitment news of 2018 and how key trends might transition into 2019.

1.       More jobs than job-seekers
The job market is more competitive than ever. In much of the last year, America has seen a record number of unfilled jobs, while unemployment rates continued to decline. This has boded well for job-seekers, but it has made it increasingly difficult for employers to hire top talent.

2019 Forecast: This trend is likely to continue into 2019 and beyond. Why? The economy is strong and we’re facing a declining workforce due to an aging population, slow growth in working-age workers, and a stagnant prime-age (25-54 years old) labor force participation rate. As the market gets more competitive, employers will need to scoop up top talent more quickly than ever.

2.       GDPR mandates data privacy
The business world, especially in the European Union (EU), has been gearing up for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for quite some time. On May 25, 2018, the new data protection framework went into effect giving internet users more control over the ways in which their personal information is collected, stored, and processed. For organizations in the HR and talent acquisition space, data security should be a top priority, as employers are privy to significant personal information from employees and job applicants.

2019 Forecast: While GDPR was introduced earlier in 2018, its implications will continue to be a force as we head into the new year. Not only will GDPR begin to be fully enforced in the coming weeks and months, imposing crippling penalties and fines for non-compliance, it will also will pave the way for additional legislation surrounding data privacy around the globe.   

3.       Google for jobs is the new normal in recruiting
Launched in 2017, Google for Jobs is simplifying the candidate experience for employers and job-seekers. Nearly seven in 10 candidates begin their job search on Google. Rather than send these folks on a wild goose chase of job boards, Google’s recruitment search tool uses AI and machine learning to help job seekers find relevant opportunities quickly and directly. Employers get more candidates, potentially at a lower cost.

In 2018, we saw Google begin to stop indexing job boards. At iCIMS, Google traffic to customer career sites (in aggregate) significantly increased year-over-year. Additionally, the search tool continued to add new job posting features and guidelines - surrounding expired jobs, the inclusion of comprehensive job details, salary comparison, location details and more - impacting search result placement.

2019 Forecast: Google’s power in this space will only increase. We predict that the tech giant will continue to use its search prowess to better the candidate experience and job posting results in 2019. And, while it may not happen in the next year, Google’s dominance in this space will eventually eliminate the relevancy of job boards.

4.       AI makes recruiting more efficient
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a buzzword in recruitment for the last several years. In 2018, AI products picked up more speed in HR and recruiting with a growing number of tools using the technology to automate workflows and improve the candidate and recruiter experiences.  AI-powered assistants (or chatbots) are one of the applications that became more widespread in the last year. Chatbots like Ari by TextRecruit help automate the recruiting process by announcing jobs, screening candidates, and even scheduling interviews, helping build talent pipelines more efficiently and reducing time and cost-to-hire.

2019 Forecast: AI will become more advanced and more integrated into recruiting in 2019. Organizations will begin to put AI to work with predictive analytics to be more strategic and to improve hiring processes. Additionally, with 58% of job seekers already comfortable with communicating with chatbots, expect to see this technology become increasingly mainstream and its functions expand.

iCIMS Inc., is a leading provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent-acquisition solutions that help businesses win the war for top talent. To learn more about how iCIMS can help your organization, visit

Tackling the Challenges of Low Unemployment

January 15, 2019

By Carol Anderson

The unemployment rate recently hit its lowest point since 1969, dipping to 3.7%. While that's great news for candidates, it might stir a little bit of fear in the hearts of HR professionals.

This unprecedented low unemployment isn't just an HR problem, though; it's a business problem. And despite the gravity of the issue, hiring is still often considered "HR's problem." I hear clients (who don't fully understand how recruiting works) lay blame on HR when they can't get quality candidates as fast as they want them. And while HR has traditionally served as a "finder of talent," this becomes significantly more difficult when the unemployment levels are so low that you're having to steal candidates from competitors instead of recruiting those looking for a job.

Finding better hires despite the low unemployment challenge starts with a change in the hiring approach. The first step involves giving hiring managers a more active role in the recruiting process. From there, your HR team will be better equipped to address existing challenges, experiment with new recruiting tactics, and course-correct as you move toward a better system overall.

1) Loop in the hiring managers.
Hiring managers typically have different levels of involvement in the hiring process depending on the organization and the HR team. But when the candidate pool dries up, the finger usually points to HR. Unless hiring managers recognize that the game has changed and that talent is in short supply, they'll continue to leave it to HR to source talent, and that's not working in today's market. As a result, HR gets the blame for something that is only partially within their control.

To get hiring managers' attention, make sure they understand not only the problem, but also their necessary role in the solution. For instance, hiring managers know their candidate market well and can help expand on traditional avenues of job advertising. They're familiar with the feeder schools, the competitors, social media, and professional associations where talent congregates. By tapping into their expertise, you and your team can cast a wider net and even find new sources of top talent.

2) Zero in on the challenges (with data).
Once you have the hiring managers on board, work together to understand the weaknesses within your existing hiring strategy by reviewing your data. Are you advertising but getting too few responses? Are you getting responses, but candidates are not showing up for the interview? Are you making offers that are turned down? Are people accepting the offer, yet leaving soon after being hired?

From there, do some analysis. As Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great, confront the brutal facts and as, “What is really going on?” If you are getting inquiries but not applications, think about how you market your organization and the job. If you are getting applications but not interviews, look at the time it takes to contact and schedule the candidate; jobs are offered at light speed these days. If job offers are being turned down, is pay competitive? If you are turning over new hires, are you setting realistic expectations about the job?

Once you understand the problems, you can work as a team to find the solution.

3) Think “outside the box”.
In addition to addressing existing challenges, improving your hiring process in a low unemployment period might also mean taking a brand new approach. Brainstorm ideas. If there is a dearth of candidates, where else can you source potential employees? Directly from schools? Through professional associations?

In my work, I've found that enlisting the help of existing employees to help solve staffing problems is often a successful strategy. In one healthcare setting, employees came up with multiple ideas for sourcing that neither HR nor the hiring manager had considered. One idea was to create postcards about an upcoming job fair for employees to pass along to their friends in similar jobs. The job fair was very successful.

Another successful tactic is to broaden your candidate pool by letting go of requirements that could be trained after the employee is hired. One organization I worked with let go of the requirement for “industry experience," and looked for customer service experience in other industries. This reduced time-to-hire because it tapped into a larger talent pool. Industry training was conducted through peer mentoring and the result was a fully-staffed and engaged department. In a similar vein, it might be time to consider building your existing employees' skills to address staffing needs by offering specific training.

4) Rinse and repeat.
Once you've started to implement some of these changes, go back to the data (with the hiring manager as a partner). What's working and what isn't? Rather than a one-time approach, this process of involving hiring managers, analyzing the data, thinking outside the box, and implementing new changes needs to become a regular dialogue. Beyond just low unemployment, the market is changing quickly. If you haven't already, now is the perfect time to implement a nimble talent search process not only for today, but also for the future.

Carol Anderson is the founder and principal of Anderson Performance Partners LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together all aspects of the business (CEO, CFO, HR) to build, implement, and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. The author of Repurposing HR: Moving from Cost Center to Business Accelerator, she can be reached at

6 Things to Consider When Texting Job Candidates

January 15, 2019

By Sharlyn Lauby

A few years ago, I went to the SourceCon conference. During the event, one of the speakers asked the crowd how many people texted candidates and quite a few people raised their hand, more than I would have suspected at that time. Since then, I have continued to hear more and more people talk about texting candidates. If you’re not texting candidates, you might be behind the curve in today’s competitive talent market.

Human Resource Executive published an article recently titled “Recruiting Gets Smarter with Targeted Texting.” It’s a good read about how talent acquisition professionals can use texting to target candidates. But as I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think that HR and talent acquisition pros need to step back and think strategically about how they will use text messaging in the hiring process. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Create guidelines that everyone on the recruiting team will use. For example, what types of messages are appropriate to send via text? When are acceptable times to text? Texting should be considered a form of company communication. Texting messages can enhance the organization’s employment brand and candidate experience if they’re done the right way.

  2. Let candidates opt-in. While many recruiters are using texting as a way to contact candidates, I still can’t help but think that texting is considered a very personal way to connect. It still needs a level of permission. Ask candidates if they would like to receive text messages before cold-texting them. It can be perceived as a sign of respect.

  3. Identify yourself in messages. This should go without saying, but I’m amazed at the number of texts I get without knowledge of the texter’s identity. Phone numbers do not identify who the senders are. So, err on the side of caution and identify yourself and your organization. That way a candidate doesn’t ignore you or write back a “Who the heck is this?” response.

  4. Be brief! Just because more people are open to texting doesn’t mean messages should be longer. The beauty of text messaging is its brevity. Recruiters need to learn how to send succinct messages. If the message needs to be longer, find a way to refer a candidate to a medium that’s better suited for longer messages. For example, “May I send you an email with details?”.

  5. Use acronyms, slang, and emojis quite sparingly. Speaking of brevity, texting does lend itself to acronyms, emojis, etc., but you must remember that we’re representing a company (and the company’s brand). Think about how the slang we use in our personal lives would be interpreted by candidates. In some cases, a smiley face or an “LOL” could be perfectly acceptable.

  6. Let candidates opt-out. If we’re going to give candidates the ability to opt-in, then they should have the ability to opt-out. Maybe they’ve decided they don’t want to apply for the opening, or that they no longer wish to be considered. Organizations must respect this and cease their communication with that candidate.

One more thing. Once the recruiting team has finalized their texting strategy, run your ideas by the legal department. I’m sure they would appreciate being looped in and they can make sure that nothing is left out.

I don’t have to tell anyone that the benefit of using texting in the recruiting process is that people read their texts. Before they read emails. Or listen to voicemails (if people actually do that anymore). If organizations want to reach candidates, text messaging is a very effective medium. But it must be done properly and in a respectful way. The company’s brand is on the line.

Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender, a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.

Key Areas of HR to Review as You Begin the New Year

January 15, 2019

By Strategic Human Resources, Inc.

As we roll into the New Year, it’s a fabulous time to do a quick audit of your HR function. This will help you start the year on the right foot with a plan. Too often the day-to-day grind keeps us from planning and being strategic. This year, let’s change this!

Your handbook can work for you or against you. It’s always a great idea to revisit your handbook, at least annually, to ensure you are following the policies you’ve set forth and that nothing has changed throughout the year that needs to be incorporated or updated in the handbook. Think of things like the legalization of medical marijuana and any new state leave laws in your area. Your handbook sets the expectations for your employees. If anything in the handbook isn’t how you currently do things, you may have a hard time using it as a defense in any type of claim from an employee.

Job Descriptions
Much like the handbook, your job descriptions can work for you or against you. Many jobs today evolve quickly and it is hard to keep your job descriptions up-to-date. Again, the job description helps you set expectations with your employee on the job and can be a defense tool in any claims by the employee (i.e. legal, workers’ compensation, etc.). Ask your managers to take a few minutes to review the job descriptions for accuracy for the new year.  Also, be sure you have included physical and mental requirements for the job. This will assist when you are trying to work with an employee requesting FMLA, disability, or workers’ compensation leaves.

Employee Files
What’s in your employee files? What shouldn’t be in your employee files? Start the new year off right by getting everything filed. Create a checklist of what should or shouldn’t be in your files and either audit all your files or do a random sampling.

I-9 Forms
Where do you keep your I-9s? It’s suggested to keep them all in a binder separate from the employee files. And be sure the forms are fully completed (including signatures). If anyone is employed through work authorizations such as an H1B, check to make sure that an update is not required due to expired documentation. In addition, be sure you are purging terminated employee I-9 forms according to recordkeeping guidelines.

Effectiveness of Your Recruitment Sources
What are the metrics on your recruitment sources? How many candidates came from each source? How many candidates were interviewed from each source? How many were hired from each source? What’s the retention from each source? Can you make any changes on your recruitment based on these metrics? With the challenges of recruitment today, be sure you are making the most of your efforts and determine what is working and what is not.

What was your turnover last year? Were there any trends by position, level, department, manager, or tenure? What actions do you need to take to minimize this same impact in the new year? If you have not taken the time to do exit interviews, start this process in the new year! Valuable information can be obtained from these quick sessions that may help with turnover going forward.

Company Reputation
What’s your company’s reputation online (Glassdoor, Facebook, Google, etc.)?  Another “must do” for 2019 is to make sure you are looking at your company online and the reviews and comments you are receiving...everyone else is!

Do you have an up-to-date harassment policy in your handbook that all employees have received? Have you trained your employees on the policy? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s highly recommended to conduct harassment training annually or at a minimum, once every two years. Make sure your staff knows what is acceptable behavior and how to address concerns if they have them.

With all the changes to minimum wage, are any of your employees affected by the changes and need compensation adjustments? Many experts suggest that the Department of Labor will revisit the Exempt/Non-Exempt definitions in 2019. Be sure you are ready to re-tackle the issue with exemption status and compensation levels.

Marijuana in the Workplace
What’s the state law regarding marijuana where your workplace resides? How are you going to handle a positive response on a drug screen from a candidate or employee?  Make sure your policy is up-to-date and that it has been communicated to your testing facility and to your employees.

A Few Bonus Reflections...
What were some of your key challenges last year? What can you do differently this year to minimize the impact of similar challenges? We can’t over-communicate with our employees. What is something different you are going to do this year to improve communication with your employees?

Finally, what can you do to find 30 minutes each month this year to reflect and take a more proactive approach to your HR? Think about it; this would just be six hours out of the 2,080 hours in a year to help keep you on the right track in a more proactive manner.  Don’t let those “little” HR items turn into bigger issues during the year. Tackle them today and get 2019 off to a great start!

Strategic Human Resources Inc. is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at

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