Turning the page on recruitment woes (HR Manager's Bookshelf)

The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave • Recruitment and Selection • How to Choose the Right Person for the Right Job Every Time • An Introduction to the Canadian Labour Market • The Insiders Guide to the Best Jobs on Bay Street • Human Resource Approved Job Interviews & Resumes

When it comes to recruitment the best strategy is to avoid it. The first book reviewed here seeks to help employers get a handle on the real reasons staff resign. But since even the best workplaces have turnover, HR professionals will need to face reality and examine books on how to best recruit. And finally, there’s some insight from the jobseekers’ side of the recruitment process.

The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late
By Leigh Branham
238 pages, AMACOM (2005)
(212) 903-8316
ISBN 0-8144-0851-6

An insightful and sobering account that spells out the consequences of job mismatches, unmet expectations, insufficient feedback, a lack of growth and advancement opportunities, the failure to value and recognize employees, stress and work-life imbalance and, finally, of the failing trust in senior leaders.

Drawing on surveys and post-exit interviews by the Saratoga Institute, the book presents the voices of the disengaged, disappointed and betrayed at the start of each chapter. As the author notes, many managers don’t ever hear the real reasons people leave a job. Even in exit interviews, most employees politely chalk it up to “better pay” or “better opportunity” to avoid burning bridges.

The chapter, “Too Few Growth and Advancement Opportunities,” begins with comments such as the following: “You get entrenched in a position and you stuck there”; “The company hires too much from outside and not from within”; “I am disappointed that I am not able to take advantage of certain training/learning opportunities because they do not apply to my current position.”

The chapter then examines what the employees are really saying and spells out the signs of blocked growth and career frustration.

The last section of each chapter discusses best practices, including this interesting advice for creating growth opportunities: “Keep the career development and performance appraisal processes separate.”

This book is even-handed because it recognizes the part employees play in ensuring their employment experience delivers on their expectations.

Excerpt: “There are actually several sequential and predictable steps that can unfold in the employee’s journey from disengaged to departure. Of course, many managers are so busy or preoccupied that they wouldn’t even notice if their employees walked around wearing sandwich boards saying, ‘Trying to change things!’ or ‘Staying and becoming less engaged every day!’ – or whatever step in the disengagement process they happen to be on at the time. Not that it’s only the manager’s responsibility to take the initiative in this process – employees also need to understand they have a singular responsibility to find ways of addressing their concerns and re-engaging themselves in the workplace. But many managers are just too slow to observe the telltale signs of employee disengagement until it’s too late to do anything about it.”

Recruitment and Selection in Canada, Third Edition
By Victor Catano, Willi Wiesner, Rick Hackett, Laura Methot
499 pages, Nelson (2005, 3rd edition)
(800) 268-2222
ISBN 0-17-641580-7

This introductory textbook is comprehensive. It covers all the key recruitment issues, dedicating chapters to job analysis, job performance criteria, recruitment methods, screening, testing, interviewing and decision-making.

The chapter on the legal framework for recruitment issues parses concepts such as direct discrimination, adverse effect discrimination, bona fide occupational requirement, reasonable accommodation, individual accommodation, reasonable alternative and sufficient risk.

One of the most interesting chapters is one that discusses the empirical foundation for recruitment methods, which takes the reader through the basic concepts in statistics such as correlation, reliability, validity – what the authors refer to as the science behind recruiting.

Excerpt: “To move beyond a guess, a selection system must be built on a sound scientific foundation. In buying a house, you may not need to know how to lay a foundation, but you must be able to tell whether the house’s foundation is solid. Often, human resources managers are asked to adopt selection systems; this chapter provides the tools needed to determine if a selection system or procedure rests on solid footings. There are two major elements to building a sound foundation with respect to recruitment and selection. First, the system must be based on solid empirical support. Human resources personnel must be able to demonstrate the reliability and validity of their selection systems. Second, any selection system must operate within a legal context.”

How to Choose the Right Person for the Right Job Every Time
By Lori Davila, Louise Kursmark
196 pages, McGraw-Hill Companies (2005)
(877) 833-5524
ISBN 0-07-143123-3

A practical guide to behavioural interviewing, this book is most useful for its list of 401 interview questions.

The questions are grouped by competencies, the list of which is remarkably comprehensive. From adaptability, analysis, assertiveness, attention to detail, through to time management, tolerance for stress, versatility, work standards and written communication, each competency is accompanied by sample questions. This format not only helps a manager put together a template of interview questions, it also helps the hiring manager identify all the competencies required for each position.

The book is most useful for managers doing interviewing, as it lays out the difference between behavioural interviewing and situational or traditional interviewing.

A chapter on legal guidelines around interviewing identifies illegal questions and suggests legal alternatives. Although this list of illegal and legal questions would need modification to reflect Canadian laws, it’ll easily prove useful as a handy table of what, and what not, to ask.

Excerpt: “‘Red flag’ items deserve further investigation but should not automatically disqualify a candidate. As resumé writers, we have daily proof that many individuals do a poor job of writing their own resumés. When they are interviewed by a professional who can draw out their expertise, most are able to share impressive results, powerful SAR (situation, action, results) stories, and strong qualification. Yet many don’t get the opportunity to share their expertise because their resumés do a poor job of representing them to hiring authorities. Because you are in the business of finding good people for your company, you should train your screeners to do their utmost to screen candidates into rather than out of the selection process.”

An Introduction to the Canadian Labour Market
By Helmar Drost and H. Richard Hird
361 pages, Nelson (Second Edition, 2006)
(800) 268-2222
ISBN 0-17-622461-0

A textbook on the economic issues underlying labour, this book covers both the macro trends and the microeconomic analysis of the labour market.

The first of the book’s three parts covers the basics: market mechanisms such as demand, supply, price determination and elasticity and institutional aspects such as labour standards and union representation.

The second part examines the broad trends in the Canadian labour market including the changing dimensions of the labour force, the growth of the service economy and non-standard employment and the characteristics of unemployment in Canada.

The final section of the book applies the principles of supply and demand to the labour market. With formulas and graphs familiar to an economics student, this section introduces the reader to the individual labour supply curve and the marginal revenue product; examines the impact of wage rates, tax rates and overtime rates on individuals’ willingness to work; and maps out in cost-benefit graphs the implications of education and on-the-job training.

Excerpt: “Few economic variables are as controversial and as hotly debated as the wage rate. At the centre of the debate is often the notion of a “fair” wage. Is a bank CEO’s contribution to the economy so much more than that of a chemist in a cancer research laboratory that it should justify the tremendous difference in theri compensation? … From the perspective of economic theory there is no “just” wage. A wage reflects the price an employer is willing to pay for a specified labour service in a particular location at a certain point in time. This does not imply, however, that a society has to accept wage levels and structures as determined by markets.”

The Insiders Guide to the Best Jobs on Bay Street
By Joe Kan
272 pages, John Wiley & Sons (2005)
(416) 236-4433
ISBN 0-470-83528-1

Another title in this selection that’s aimed primarily at the jobseeker, this is still a fascinating glimpse into the working world on Bay Street. Even for readers who come into this 271-page book with little interest in the investment industry, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the incredible work demands on the people (still mostly men) whose analysis, ideas and decisions shape the rise and fall of the stock market each trading day.

Written by a Bay Street headhunter, the book takes a microscope to nine occupations in the investment industry. A chapter is devoted to each occupation, examining the job duties, the educational and skills requirements, the legal framework of the job. Interviews with professionals in the job help portray a day in the life of the professional, the career paths that got them to the job and the challenges and changes facing that profession. Each chapter also provides the income range, the skills profile of an ideal professional and the top employers.

Excerpt: “As a headhunter whose practice has been focused solely on the institutional investment community, I’ve noticed that many smart, business-minded individuals from MBA school and other professions looking to break into the business know surprisingly little about the career options on Bay Street. And just as important, they know little about the responsibilities and expectations of those options. And certainly people outside the investment community don’t appreciate the hard work, sacrifices and nuances of the Street’s pecking order.”

Human Resource Approved Job Interviews & Resumés
By Michael Schell
164 pages, Approved Publications (2004)
(866) 559-2665
ISBN 0-9731-6750-5

Written as a dos and don’ts for jobseekers, this book is not the essential read for an HR manager. (However, with plenty of tips and comments on each part of the job search process, it’s easily a must-read for anyone in the market for a new job.)

There’s little new here for the HR reader, though pet peeves and no-no’s proffered by some 65 HR practitioners consulted by the authors serve to reinforce one unfortunate truth about recruiting: filling a spot is just as often about finding an applicant who has cleared all the hurdles, including a few hurdles that have to nothing to do with the job required.

Excerpt: “I’ve seen managers throw out resumés because they didn’t like how they looked. They say, ‘If they can’t do a correct resumé, they can’t do the job.’”

Uyen Vu is Canadian HR Reporter’s news editor.

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