Management

Still Using Paper Forms For New Hire Onboarding?

Old habits die hard.

As the leader of a technology company, I’ve been relatively slow to give up my paper habit. I still write in a journal each morning. I take notes in a bound notebook or on a yellow pad. I print out my weekly agenda and, until recently, even printed my daily calendar.

But, lately, I’ve changed the way I operate. More specifically, Evernote has changed the way I operate. I use it for just about everything I do: create to-do lists and agendas, take notes, and even bookmark articles I’ve read. In fact, I’m writing this in Evernote as we speak. For a while, I would create things in Evernote and then print them. I’ve kicked that habit too. And you know what? It’s refreshing not having stacks of paper everywhere in my office. Everything is stored in one central place, and it’s not going anywhere. My work bag is lighter, and I feel like I have more headspace to focus on what’s really important.

It’s hard to give up old habits and routines. You get used to doing things a certain way, and that feels comfortable to you—even if you know there’s a better way. I’ve seen this with some of our clients who have made the switch to our paperless New Hire Onboarding product. They knew all of the reasons why they should switch, but it was still hard—right up until the moment when they experienced the ease of use themselves. Once our clients go through the process of onboarding a new hire without printing a sheet of paper, they love it and don’t look back.

Are you still stuck with a paper habit when it comes to new hire onboarding? Do you have to have to reload the printer just to get through a couple of new hire packets? Is your file cabinet telling you “No mas!?” Consider what’s keeping you from making the change, and it’s probably not as much of a roadblock as you would expect.

Progress is impossible without change - George Bernard Shaw

COMMON OBJECTIONS

Here are the most common objections and associated questions:

Compliance

Is it compliant to complete federal and state forms electronically? Do electronic signatures have the same legal validity as a signature on paper?

Yes. The U.S. Government enacted the E-Sign Act of 2000 which clarifies that federal documents may be completed electronically, as long as protocols for valid electronic signatures are followed. An electronic signature is valid under U.S. law if these four conditions are met:

  • All parties have intent to sign the document
  • All parties have consented to do business electronically
  • The electronic signature must have an associated record that reflects the process by which the signature was created
  • Electronic signature records must be capable of retention and accurate reproduction by all parties

Our system ensures that all signers have the intent to sign and have given consent to sign electronically. All signers must be logged in as a user in order to complete an e-signature. We record a date stamp and the IP address of the user when our system records an e-signature. All completed electronic forms are converted to PDF files and stored in our system for future reference. It is easy for authorized users to export these as needed. You can even print these files if prefer to have a paper copy for your files.

Security

Is it safe to store my sensitive data in the cloud? Am I at risk of losing this information?

Yes, but you need to make take the right steps to maximize this security. Do not store sensitive data in just any cloud storage drive. You need a system designed for storing sensitive data, which includes data encryption. Plus, you need to closely manage who has access to this data. Data backups are standard for cloud storage and minimize the risk of data loss, but not all systems are created equal. It’s important for you to ask questions about a company’s policies on data and security.

We take data and security seriously and are happy to provide you with documentation of our security policies.

Difficult to Change

Can all of our forms be converted into electronic forms? How difficult is this process and how much time will it take?

Yes. Any form can be converted into an electronic form. And we make that conversion easy by taking care of the form conversion process for you. This allows you to focus on getting your internal processes and communication ready for the switch to paperless onboarding.

COMPELLING REASONS TO CHANGE

Our sales leader taught me a simple lesson: People only make a change when there is a compelling reason to do so.

These are a few of the most compelling reasons that have encouraged our clients to switch to paperless onboarding:

Compliance

Compliance is both a reason to switch and a common objection to digitizing the onboarding process. We work with a lot of decentralized organizations with multiple stores and offices. Many of them have expressed concerns about their ability to ensure compliance across their locations. They are not always confident about the way these forms are managed, and they don’t have a good process to oversee this at each location.

But, our New Hire Onboarding System helps simplify compliance with features that allow you to:

  • Create New Hire Checklists: Our system gives you the ability to create checklists that your new hires and their hiring managers must complete as part of the onboarding process. This includes a full list of every required form that must be completed. Administrators at decentralized organizations use this feature to ensure that each location is getting the right forms completed for every new hire.
  • Reduce Errors: Our electronic forms can be prefilled with a new hire’s contact information so that they do not need to retype this into each field. And form fields can include validation rules (like social security numbers requiring 9 digits). These features reduce errors and improve accuracy throughout the onboarding process.
  • Enforce Deadlines: All new hire checklist items include deadlines for completion. This is particularly important for the federal I-9.
  • Establish Admin Control: Admins have the ability to review all forms that have been completed and see how new hires are progressing with their onboarding checklists. This gives administrators visibility, which helps them stay in control.

Security

Like compliance, security is an objection by some and a compelling reason to automate processes for others. Many people have concerns about the security of their paper forms at their locations as well as who has access to them.

Our New Hire Onboarding System helps establish security with features like:

  • Secure, Centralized Storage: Everything is housed in one central place using secure cloud-based servers. All sensitive data is encrypted and regular backups are kept to minimize the risk of data loss.
  • Activity Logs: Our system keeps track of all actions taken by users in the system, so you know who did what and when.
  • User Access Controls: Administrators have full control over who does and does not have login access to sensitive files.

Efficiency

Some people come to us because they are tired of the stacks of paper and know there is a better way to do things. They recognize that their current process is inefficient and needs to change.

Going paperless provides countless clear benefits like:

  • Time Savings: When new hires and their managers can complete forms faster, it allows them to focus on preparing them to perform the job sooner. Plus administrators save time by having visibility into everyone’s actions.
  • Paper Savings: The cost of paper and printer toner adds up quickly. And if you have multiple locations with multiple hires each year, this number becomes substantial. (And who doesn’t feel good about saving some trees?)
  • Storage Savings: I think of storage in two ways: physical storage space and headspace. Imagine how nice it would be to not have file cabinets everywhere. Some companies have reclaimed entire areas of their office by going paperless. But the most important aspect for me is headspace. Not having papers everywhere clears my mind and allows me to focus on what’s most important. And it’s hard to place a value on this.

Opportunity

Finally, some people change because they see an opportunity to do something new—something beyond new hire forms that can have a real impact on their business.

Our clients have realized many other opportunities with our platform, too. Our features help achieve things like:

  • E-Verify & WOTC: – We offer integrations that allow clients to manage E-Verify and Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC) within our system. In the case of WOTC, clients have the potential to earn thousands of dollars in tax credits from the hires that they make each year.
  • Payroll Integration: Our system integrates with a growing number of payroll providers. This integration makes it easy to create a new employee record in your payroll system without any manual data entry or uploads.
  • New Hire Confidence: New hires benefit from much more than new hire forms when onboarding. They need the confidence in their new roles, as well as a connection with your company and their new team. New hire checklists give structure to these items and allow new hires to learn more on their own.

WHERE TO START

It can be tough to kick old habits, but it is the only way that you can grow as an organization. By taking these simple steps, you can begin improving your onboarding process today:

  • Take a step back and review your current process for new hire paperwork. Think about the possibilities with and the value of a paperless process.
  • Write down the objections and reasons that are keeping you from making the change. Examine each one to see how you can overcome it internally.
  • Speak with HR leaders at other companies who have gone paperless.
  • Learn more by downloading our e-book Launch New Hires.

How Many Stars Would You Give Your Hiring Process?

Better yet…How many stars would your applicants give it? How about your hiring managers? Or your leaders? Your new hires?

All of these ratings matter, so sweat the details. It’s the little things that you do as an organization that make you who you are and have helped you succeed with your customers. Too often, these details get overlooked when it comes to the hiring process. Perhaps you could have gotten away with this when the job market was different. In fact, there’s a good chance that your hiring process was built in (and for) the good ‘ole days when candidates were lining up to work for you. With falling unemployment rates reducing the number of active jobseekers and job aggregators making the job search easier than ever, those days are long gone.

THE FOUR STAKEHOLDERS

It’s a buyer’s market in the job world, and top candidates are discerning buyers. To attract, hire and retain Five Star talent, it is essential to have a Five Star hiring process. This means creating exceptional experiences for all stakeholders involved. Focusing on candidate experience is the right start, but it’s not enough. Your team also needs a great experience or it won’t be easy for hiring managers to follow the process or for your leaders to hold them accountable. Lastly, new hires need to have an exceptional experience. Too many companies work hard to attract and hire the right person only to set them up for failure by providing a poor new hire onboarding experience.

Experience impacts actions taken and decisions made, and those decisions will determine the success of your business.

Candidates, managers, new hires and leaders are all stakeholders in your hiring process

CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE

What They Want: Candidates want an easy way to learn about your company and job openings. They want to get an authentic feel for your culture and what you are truly seeking in your next team member. Then they want to apply to your job posting from their mobile device within a few minutes. Once they have applied, they expect to stay informed on the status of their application.

What They Often Get: Many job posting are generic and lack genuine character. It makes candidates feel like they will be joining the company as an insignificant cog in the machine. For the job seekers who do apply, the process can be arduous, particularly from a mobile device. Candidates often spend 30 minutes or more on applications that include antiquated form fields and a username/password requirement. After they finally click submit, they never hear back from the employer again and are left feeling like their application was zapped into a black hole.

What Has to Change: Candidates have options and the best ones are passing on anything that resembles a potential black hole. To attract Five Star Talent, you must create compelling job postings, distribute your opportunities to places where candidates search, and make it easy for them to apply from any device. Then follow up in a timely manner and keep candidates informed and engaged throughout the process. Otherwise top talent will go with employers who do.

MANAGER EXPERIENCE

What They Want: Managers want an easy-to-use system to review and communicate with applicants. They want a hiring process playbook to follow to help them make better decisions. They want the system to work how they work – something that can be accessed from any mobile device since they don’t always do their work from a desk.

What They Often Get: Managers are often forced to track applicants through a combination of paper and email applications or through a hard-to-use software system that is not optimized for mobile devices. If there is an established hiring playbook, it is often stored in a paper binder that is rarely used as part of the actual hiring process. Managers’ time is wasted, and their hiring process is inconsistent. This leads to hiring mistakes.

What Has to Change: If hiring managers don’t have a hiring process that is easy to execute, then they are on their own. Inconsistencies will grow. Candidate experience will decline. Decisions will suffer, and you will see the impact in your business results – employee turnover up, customer satisfaction down, sales and profitability…you know where it goes from here. Give your managers a system to follow that saves them time and produces predictable hiring results.

LEADER EXPERIENCE

What They Want: HR and Operations Leaders want a system that will allow them to implement a hiring playbook and hold their team accountable to executing it. They want to have real-time access to reporting to monitor results and make the necessary adjustments to optimize them.

What They Often Get: Without software systems, leaders are often forced to manage their process through paper binders and their reporting through manually maintained spreadsheets. Executing a consistent hiring process across the organization becomes impossible and wastes valuable resources — especially leaders’ time.

What Has to Change: If leaders are serious about improving their hiring results, they need to build a playbook and integrate it into their managers’ actual hiring process.

NEW HIRE EXPERIENCE

What They Want: Above all else, new hires want to have a great first day at work and come home feeling excited about their new job. For this to happen consistently, the company needs a system to make a great first impression and walk new hires through the onboarding process. There needs to be a plan for new hire orientation and an electronic checklist of items to be completed by the new hire (as well at the manager). This should include an easy-to-use system to complete new hires forms and training items needed to prepare for the new hire to perform.

What They Often Get: New hire onboarding processes are often disorganized and left up to the individual manager. This means that a manager who is busy that day or not well organized could end up leaving a new hire with nothing but a stack of new hire paperwork to complete. This can risk a new hire feeling confused and wondering whether she made the right decision.

What Has to Change: You only get one shot at a first impression with new hires, and the wrong one can lead them right back to the job market. Leaders need to recognize that the hiring process is not complete once the offer is accepted. They need to build a system to onboard new hires consistently across the organization. This includes an easy way to get oriented, as well as complete new hire forms and training checklist items.

WHERE TO START

To achieve meaningful change, you must first establish 1) Where you are right now and 2) Where you want to go.

Where You Are Right Now:

  • Ask for Feedback/Ratings: Ask the stakeholders(Candidates, Managers, Leaders, New Hires) for their feedback on the process. Include questions about what they like most/least and their ideas on how to improve the process.
  • Walk in Their Shoes: You won’t truly know where you are unless you see it for yourself: walk a mile in you key stakeholders’ shoes. Apply to a job. Manage a candidate through the hiring process. Review the reports and dashboards your leaders see. Complete a first day as a new hire. Take notes and even a series of screenshots to map out the process. This will make it easier for you to make a case to improve the process and help you get organized to document the detailed improvements needed.
  • Establish Baseline Metrics: Think of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure the effectiveness of your hiring process and experience. Each of the stakeholders need to be represented by 1-2 KPIs. Keep score of your current performance in these areas so that you know where you are right now.

Where You Want to Go:

  • Set the Vision: Create a vision for the experience you want to create as part of your hiring process. Organize this by the four stakeholders so that you can ensure that each of their needs will be addressed.
  • Incorporate Internal & External Guidance: Combine the feedback/observations on your current process with ideas and best practices from outside your company. Look at what other companies in your industry are doing, along with ideas from other industries and HR thought leaders.
  • Establish Benchmark Targets: Work with your team to establish targets for your KPIs and create a process to continually measure your progress toward them.

Once you know where you are right now and where you want to go, it will be easier to develop a plan to bridge the gap.

One of the biggest challenges our clients tell us they face is creating the consistent processes they need to deliver the predictable hiring results they need. Our ebook, Hire More Superstars, compiles the lessons we’ve learned and gives you the tools you need to build and implement a hiring process that attracts top talent and delivers an amazing experience for all of your stakeholders.

3 Essential Components of a Superstar Hiring Process

At CareerPlug we know that our people are the heart of our business. It is our people who execute our mission and vision and live our values every day. Having the right people in place has empowered us to innovate, explore, and grow as a company. And this isn’t unique to us – HR leaders across many industries understand the impact people have on their organization. From top to bottom, people set the pace and pulse of a workplace, ultimately impacting the culture, growth, and reputation of the company.

So why it is so easy to fall short when it comes to hiring the right people?

There are many common answers we can insert here: Hiring managers don’t have enough time. The hiring market is too tough right now. This person seemed perfect during their interview… it’s not our fault they left two months later.

There is no formula for making perfect hires 100% of the time, but there is a path to predictable hiring results. It’s true that hiring rarely comes at an opportune time for hiring managers. They have full workloads before the hiring responsibilities of reviewing applicants, conducting interviews, and then devoting days or weeks to training land on their plate. When a team is understaffed there’s even more pressure to fill a position as soon as possible. Maybe the hiring manager skips a reference check to expedite the process. Or settles for someone they would’ve passed on if they had the leisure of another week. It seems like a Catch 22: We rush through the hiring process to fill the seat quickly and save time, but then risk that new hire leaving sooner than expected (or having to show them the door) and starting the process all over again. And again. And again.

To stop this cycle of turnover, organizations need to develop a consistent hiring process and give hiring managers the tools and resources to execute it. It’s common for individual managers to develop their own process, and maybe some of them have a knack for always making great hires… or maybe they don’t. By removing the uncertainty and adopting consistency, companies can make predictable hiring decisions to build stronger, lasting teams.

Build Your Process

Start by standardizing job descriptions for every position. Job descriptions are the core of performance management. Before the hire is made, job descriptions attract the right applicants, lay out the expectations of the job, and set the hiring criteria for hiring managers. After the hire is made they guide training plans, set the foundation for performance reviews, and can even indicate when employees should be on performance improvement plans. While every job description will differ based on the role, first consider what key components each job description should have to help attract the right applicants. Remember that your job postings should not be a bulleted list of responsibilities, but rather communicate the purpose and impact of the position. Highlighting growth-potential, training opportunities, and other company benefits and perks will make your job descriptions more attractive.

Next, outline the essential steps each hiring manager should execute during the hiring process. While this could differ by position, it should not differ by hiring manager. At CareerPlug, we have a standard set of hiring steps across all our departments which include a phone screen, personality and cognitive assessments, multiple in-person interviews that involve in-depth interviews that uncover career aspirations and motivations, and reference checks. We also incorporate a “role play” exercise, or a job shadow, depending on the position.

Our more comprehensive process is a recent development; many of our seasoned employees were hired with a quick phone screen and in-person interview (or less). As a smaller company we definitely made our share of “gut-feeling” hires and were fortunate to get some truly talented people on our team. But that luck doesn’t last forever, and we have since shifted our hiring process to make more predictable hires. Focusing on building a consistent, effective hiring process has made our hiring managers more efficient and has enabled our teams to confidently add new, high performing team members.

Train Your Team

Not every hiring manager is going to have experience interviewing. Taking the time to train managers on how to run an effective interview is crucial. Clear hiring criteria in job descriptions, identified competencies for the position, and standard interview guides will set managers up to make better hires. When I sit down with new hiring managers, they often don’t know what to expect from the hiring process. Providing them with resources to execute and thrive is essential to success. Pre-screen questions and assessments save time on reviewing resumes; interview guides cut down on interview prep and help make the selection process more objective. We use our ATS to centralize email communication and move candidates through the interview and verification process. In the end, having a set process brings peace of mind to hiring managers and saves them time, all while helping them consistently hire great people.

As you consider what hiring steps make the most sense for your positions, consider these 3 essential components to a superstar hiring process:

Component #1 – Assess

Resumes are a great indicator of job history, but often fall short of digging into what you really need to know upfront about a candidate. Using prescreen questions on the initial application gives you immediate visibility into the most important questions that are relevant to your open position, such as certifications, work availability, or years of experience in the industry. Make sure these questions are consistent each time the job is posted. This way, hiring managers can expect the same info and evaluate applicants on the same criteria.

Once you’ve collected the initial information from applicants, use assessments to learn more. Personality assessments can measure soft skills like assertiveness, emotional intelligence, sales potential and service orientation, while cognitive assessments can be an indicator into problem-solving and verbal skills. Evaluate each of your positions and consider which competencies are most important to be successful in the role. Then, have current top performers in each role take assessments so you can benchmark their scores against potential hires. By utilizing assessments hiring managers can begin to see which candidates would complement their current team.

Component #2 – Interview

Interviews are the backbone of the hiring process. They are a chance to truly get to know a candidate, ask specific questions about their experience, and learn if they are a professional and cultural fit. But again, if hiring managers are not consistent in how they interview the evaluation process will be for naught. When all hiring managers ask the same questions to every candidate, it’s easier to evaluate on the job criteria and make more predictable hires.

Here’s a more detailed look at CareerPlug’s interview process:

  • Phone Screen – This is a short interview hiring managers conduct first to learn about a candidate’s current position and what they’re looking for in their next role. We use this interview to screen for basic qualifications: skill set, salary expectations, and ideal work environment.
  • Assessment – All candidates complete a personality assessment and a timed Math/Verbal assessment. Because we have benchmarked these scores against current employees, we have learned which scores are indicators for success in certain positions.
  • In-Person Interview – Lasting between 30 and 60 minutes, the first in-person interview validates the assessment results and explores in-depth behavioral and culture fit questions. This interview indicates whether the candidate has the experience and potential to perform well in the role. Their responses should also demonstrate alignment with our values (i.e. Communicate Openly and Innovate & Grow Every Day).
  • Life Story Interview – This interview takes a deeper look at a candidate’s professional history and asks them to reflect on past jobs and education. By learning about their highs, disappointments, and lessons learned, we can see if CareerPlug makes sense as the next step in their professional story.
  • Motivational Interview – The motivational interview digs into the question “where do you want to be in 5 years?” We ask candidates to expand on their motivations and goals for their career, finances, and other personal ambitions. This interview is essential to establishing CareerPlug as the right company to help them achieve these goals.
  • Leadership Interview – As a small, collaborative company, most positions work closely with multiple departments. It’s important to get leaders involved in the hiring process to offer perspective and to support incoming hires. Leaders of adjacent departments conduct short interviews with final round candidates to further explore company fit.

While we make slight adjustments based on the job, like adding a role play or a technical interview, we never sacrifice the core components of our process.

Component #3 – Verify

It only takes one time to regret not verifying a candidate. I approach hiring with the assumption that people are generally trustworthy, but that doesn’t make reference checks and criminal background checks any less mandatory in our hiring process. Reference checks should verify your assumptions about a candidate and give you an opportunity to learn how to best manage someone if they are hired.

At CareerPlug, all our offers are contingent upon completing a criminal background check. Rather than just another hoop to jump through before the hire, verification instills confidence in the hiring manager – and the company – that the right person is joining the team.

How CareerPlug Can Help

Creating a consistent hiring process that speaks to our values and culture has helped make CareerPlug’s team what it is today. We’ve seen the benefit of investing time in our hiring process played out in the dedication, service, and innovation of our employees in every department, and we are passionate about helping other companies build the hiring process they need to grow their business.

To learn more about how you can build a hiring process to get the right people in place, request a demo of CareerPlug’s hiring software today.

Achieving Workplace Goals With CHANGE

The New Year just began and already people are setting goals and implementing new practices throughout the workplace. Sadly, The University of Scranton reports that 92% of people will fail at accomplishing their New Year’s goal. This can come off as defeating to leaders of organizations trying to adopt company-wide goals. However, there should be something said about the power in numbers. Goals in the workplace can have positives outcomes with a little CHANGE. One just needs to know how to make them stick. So, if you want your idea to last past the third week of January, follow the guidelines for effective CHANGE:

C: Communication

If there’s going to be any real change within your company, then the channels of communication must remain open. After all, can you think of one success story that came from NOT communicating? Allow for open and clear communication up and down the professional ladder as well throughout teams. Also, if a change is going to occur, be clear on why the change needs to occur, and what it means to the company.

H- Have clear expectations in place

Set clear expectations from the beginning. When a change occurs in an organization, it’s important for everyone in the company to understand why those changes happened and how it will affect them individually. Confusion equals disruption in workflow, so take the time to set the stage upfront. By outlining clear expectations for every team member, you prevent future confusion and lay an easy path for them to achieve the company’s goals. 

A- Are the correct systems in place

Now that you’ve decided to set new goals for your business, do you have the right resources? Are there any people, processes, or systems that would get in the way of success?  Your system of communication is vital – are all managers on board? Is there a system for communicating down through the company?    

N- Never assume or rush into things

A good rule of thumb: never assume anything. If you haven’t mentioned your goal since it was first implemented, don’t assume everything’s fine. Take time to analyze what progress has been made. Relying on everyone to do their part isn’t enough, so keep communication channels open within your team and perform frequent check-ins.  

G- Gain a sense of measurement

A goal lasts longer when it exists in reality and not just in the mind. Solution: write your company’s goal down preferably where people can see them. Does your goal have a timeline? When there are clear milestones in place, goals become concrete and actionable rather than something broad and distant.

E- Encourage and provide support

A goal will grow or die depending on a company’s approach. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to develop the right people to make your business successful. As a leader, beyond expectations and accountability, you need to show encouragement and support to everyone involved. During both good or bad times, a leader’s passion and commitment can uplift the team and keep everyone focused.  

Achieving your company’s biggest goals this year can happen, but it all depends on the communication, accountability, and support structures that are set in place for your team.  Use the CHANGE method as a starting point to achieve lasting success. 

How to Recruit Personal Trainers

Why Certification Matters

The popularity of personal training and fitness classes is on the rise as Americans take initiative to become healthier. As gym memberships increase, it becomes even more important that employees are well-equipped to work directly with gym members. Fitness instructors operate in a capacity that holds the organization liable for potential harm that befalls clients. In Indiana in 2003, an injured gym member attempted to sue both the personal trainer and the gym for bodily injuries. The health risks involved with working out highlight the importance of hiring quality fitness trainers. A successful organization needs experienced professionals to reduce risks for both clients and the gym itself.

Finding Certified Trainers

Certified personal trainers hold certifications and knowledge that enables them to assist their clients in the case of an emergency, such as CPR and AED certifications. Certified fitness trainers know how to recognize signs of bodily distress and prevent physical harm of clients. Also, customers feel more at ease working with trainers who are certified and are knowledgeable about nutrition, exercise, and safety.

Anyone familiar with the hiring process understands the difficulty in finding the right candidates. A good employee will be familiar with proper exercise etiquette and have a passion to help  people improve their physical well-being. One way to make the process more efficient is by specifying minimum standards for fitness applicants. This can be done through the use of pre-screen questions that weed out applicants who don’t meet the minimum requirements, such as CPR/AED certifications. Pre-qualifying certified candidates allows you to fast track the most promising trainers through your hiring process, empowering you to make an offer before your competition. 

Making the right hire for your gym, classes, and members

Identifying the most qualified trainers goes a step further than trainers’ certifications. Finding instructors who have the right mindset for the job is important as well. Using personality assessments allows you to reveal insights beyond the resume and find instructors who have the qualities needed to work with a  range of different gym members. By administering personality assessments to applicants, you can easily identify trainers who have competencies such as optimism, emotional stability, and achievement striving. Being able to pinpoint fitness applicants strengths gives you an idea of how they would best fit into your team. For example, you may want more encouraging and patient trainers working with beginner-level members and tougher trainers working with athletes and advanced members. You wouldn’t necessarily want to hire a former Crossfit trainer to head up a level one spin class – even though experience and certifications may pre-qualify the candidate, the training and communication style may detour beginners. Remember that you’re seeking a great fit for both your business and your members.

CareerPlug Simplifies Hiring for Over 4,000 Gyms

CareerPlug works with about 4,000 fitness club locations in streamlining the hiring process, including Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Orange Theory, and many other franchised and non-franchised chains.

To learn more about how CareerPlug can help with your hiring needs, request a demo today or download our free ebook!

 

How to Make Your Job Descriptions More SEO-friendly

As any HR professional can tell you, attracting top talent in today’s competitive job market is no easy task. Nowadays, it’s no longer enough to simply write a compelling job description and hope for the best. With so many opportunities available to job seekers, your first step must be to ensure that your posting can be easily found in online search results.

Just as marketers try to optimize their web pages to rank highly in Google, savvy recruiters optimize their job postings to rank highly in job search engines when candidates do job searches. Therefore, to get the most out of your job postings on Glassdoor and elsewhere, you’ll need to start thinking like a search engine and following best practices for search engine optimization or SEO.

How does that work? To get the inside scoop on what employers can do to optimize their job descriptions, we sat down with the head engineer in charge of Glassdoor’s job search engine, Bhawna Singh. Here are 6 SEO tips to jumpstart your posting performance:

1. Make your job title easily searchable

Most job seekers search by job title, so knowing how to optimize your title is the first step to getting your job posting in front of qualified candidates. To perform well, keep your title straightforward and consistent with the language typically used in your industry. Steer clear of creative titles like “Excel Wizard” or “Coding Ninja,” as these tend to rank poorly compared to frequently searched titles like “Software Engineer.”

Singh, Senior Director of Engineering for Glassdoor’s job search engine, tells us, “Our algorithm will rank your jobs higher if the job title closely matches what the user typed in the search box.” Singh adds, “Additional phrases in the title, like ‘apply now’ or ‘competitive salary,’ make it less likely that your job will match well to the user’s query. These types of modifiers are best saved for the job description.”

2. Watch your abbreviations

When it comes to abbreviations, most search engines are advanced enough to recognize commonly used abbreviations such as “Sr.” for “Senior” or “RN” for “Registered Nurse.” However, things start to get tricky when the same abbreviated term may be used among different positions in different industries. To prevent your description from getting advertised in the wrong place, make sure to expand your abbreviations to specify whether your “PA” job is referring to “Physician’s Assistant,” “Production Assistant,” “Personal Assistant,” or “Personal Accountant.”

3. Keep location out of the title

Unlike Internet search engines such as Google or Bing, which filter queries through a single generic search field, all major job search sites feature two fields, one for job title and the other for location. When these search engines try to match your job to the user’s query, they match title-to-title and location-to-location.

Users search for specific job titles more than any other group or combination, including location. If your job title is “Assistant Manager North Canton Store” and your location is “North Canton, OH,” including the location within the job title only makes it a less exact match to a job seeker’s query of “Assistant Manager.” To help boost click-through rate, ditch redundant information like location so that your title will more precisely mirror what the job seeker is searching for.

4. Front-load your title

A 2014 eye tracking study conducted by Mediative revealed that the way people view search results differs from the way we read other kinds of text. As opposed to reading a piece of text line by line from left to right, people consume search results vertically, scanning the beginning portion of results from top to bottom. Applying this to job search results, job seekers scanning through dozens of job results are likely to view just a fraction of job titles, focusing their attention at the beginning.

To make sure that important pieces of information don’t get passed over, orient your job titles so that the most relevant words fall within the scanning window of the first 1-2 words. In the image below, you’ll find an example of a job title not optimized for search result viewing. Because the first two words don’t include any job title related terms, it’s more likely that a job seeker will skip over it. Avoid this mistake by beginning your title with the most pertinent words.

glassdoor-pic

5. Keep an eye on character count

When crafting the right title for your job posting, it’s useful to keep length in mind. At Glassdoor, the job search engineering team has found that among the site’s millions of job postings, the most typical length for a job title is between 12-20 characters. What’s more, titles within this range also have the highest click-through rate. Think titles like Product Manager (15 characters); Sales Associate (15 characters); Business Analyst (16 characters); and Non CDL Truck Driver (20 characters).

If your title’s character count falls on either extreme of the range, you run the risk of experiencing a significant decrease in your number of click-throughs. For example, on Glassdoor, job titles over 60 characters get clicked on about half as often as titles in the 10-20 character range.

If this is the case for you, consider either shortening or extending your job title to fit within the 12-20 character range. Look into what titles are most commonly used in your industry for the level and skill you’re looking for. If you’re worried about your title not being detailed enough, remember that you can always provide more detail later on in the description.

6. Formatting matters… a lot

Job seekers tend to skim job descriptions, so it’s crucial that yours is easy to digest. However, beyond simply making your description easy on the eyes, there is an SEO incentive around formatting as well. Singh says, “Good search engines take into account the quality of the job title and description. Misspellings and bad formatting can negatively impact how your job ranks.” To give your description a well-defined structure, break up your text with separate paragraphs, section headings, and bullet points where appropriate.

Paying close attention to formatting is particularly important when advertising the same job on multiple sites. Be cautious when copying and pasting descriptions that your posting doesn’t convert into a single blob of text. Singh advises, “If you’re using multiple sites, it’s always a best practice to check how the formatting of each one looks.” Be aware that some job boards do a poor job of preserving your original formatting, which will reflect poorly on you as the employer.

When developing your job posting, remember that your goal is to craft job titles and descriptions that will match a job seeker’s search query as closely as possible. Try putting yourself in their shoes and think about how you would conduct a job search for your particular position. The more you can imitate the way job seekers interact with search engines, the better your job posting will perform.

 

This guest blog post was written by Lizzie Jeffrey, a content writer and business development specialist for Glassdoor. As one of the fastest growing jobs and recruiting sites, Glassdoor is dedicated to helping people everywhere find jobs and companies they love.

If you want to read more of Glassdoor’s content, check out their blog.

 

 

Restaurant Hiring: Workflows for Each Team

Separate Workflows for Hiring Restaurant Managers and Recruiting Team Members

Restaurateurs take various approaches to recruiting great talent, but what some may not realize is that effective tactics for attracting hourly labor may not be practical for hiring restaurant managers. It is helpful to view the two needs separately and evaluate the right applicant channels and screening techniques for each. Furthermore, depending on the level of skill and experience desired for kitchen staff, some restaurant owners may opt to hire chefs, cooks, or kitchen staff through a different process than they would use to recruit the front of house team. Likewise, savvy restaurateurs who have collected benchmark assessments from their current top team members on personality traits, such as integrity & math aptitude  (quick-serve cashiers), empathy & and leadership (managers), work ethic & consistency (kitchen staff), and friendliness & sales aptitude (full-service waitstaff), can leverage that information to make new hires confidently.

Designing Restaurant Hiring Workflows by Team

To begin designing or conceptualizing a new workflow for recruiting, it is helpful to think about the process in steps, from start to finish. At CareerPlug we see the following stages as the logical progression of a basic hiring process:

Attract

When it comes to attracting talent for various restaurant roles, consider where your ideal talent will find information about your open position. In the food-service industry, some of the best hourly hires are already your customers – showcasing your openings in-store, detailing an easy way to apply online, and encouraging your employees to refer their friends are all great tactics for building your talent pool. For attracting experienced managers or cooks, posting free to Indeed.com or even considering a sponsored posting on Indeed will put your job in front of qualified job-seekers immediately.

Prequalify

Once you’ve received applications, gauge the interest and skill level of the applicants by reviewing resumes and and filtering by responses to prescreen questions. One customization that may apply here is to rely on prescreen questions to filter out many applicants to a low level position, while reviewing most applicants to the management positions to identify if there are any good candidates for other roles at your restaurant, even if they aren’t a perfect fit for the one they applied for. Another key customization at this step would be to fast track the clearly qualified candidates to an immediate interview to get ahead of any competitors the candidate may have also applied to.

Assess

When it comes to evaluating applicants, we encourage our restaurant partners to send applicants personality and cognitive assessments to measure candidates on the criteria that is most important to their success in the role and their fit in your restaurant’s culture. Using candidate assessments will reveal insights beyond the resume and empower you to continue into the interview process with data and confidence. Savvy restateurs will evaluate candidate assessment scores against assessment scores of their current top performers, by role, to identify clear matches on culture fit, work ethic, and integrity. For instance, if you are hiring an additional front of house manager, and you already employ a stellar front of house manager, ask her to take the assessment so you can benchmark her leadership traits and have a basis for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the new hire candidates. Obviously, no two employees are the same, so identifying the personality and cognitive traits that are most important to success in the role will be critical for clear evaluation.

Interview

After you’ve received assessment scores back from your applicants, scheduling an initial phone screen is the next step in a lean hiring process. A quick phone screen can reveal many of the intangible and less quantifiable insights about the applicant, and it saves time for both parties. Assuming that the candidate passes the phone screen, it’s time to arrange the first face to face interview – for lower level staff, an assessment, phone screen, and interview may be all you need to make a confident, informed hire. However, if you are hiring a manager, you’ll probably want to setup additional interview rounds with other team members to meet and evaluate the candidate, so this process, while customizable, should be consistent every time you hire for that role. Likewise, there may be interview steps that some roles require – for instance, if you want to role play with a waitstaff candidate, build that step into your waitstaff hiring workflow and leave it out of your workflow for kitchen staff. This way, you can ensure that you are building a consistent, repeatable process that leads to predictable hires, every time.

Verify

You have an outstanding, qualified candidate who scored well on the assessments, nailed the interviews, and is available to start immediately – so it’s time to extend an offer, right? Wrong. Too many recruiting horror stories are a result of skipping the verification step, and while it may seem like just a formality, it’s absolutely in the best interest of your restaurant. At a minimum dedicating a step in your restaurant’s hiring process for calling candidate references will help you validate the candidate’s claims about their experience and work history. Sometimes, it yields no surprises, and other times it can be the single most insightful step of your hiring process. Lastly, for some roles, a background check or drug screen may be required, while for others it is not necessary. A fully customizeable process allows you to set protocol by role and even facilitates reference checks with consistent guides, in case you want to delegate that task to hiring managers.

Offer

After you feel confident in a new hire and have verified that they are the right person for the role, extending an offer is the next step. A restaurant owner may want to configure standardized compensation for entry-level positions while leaving pay for management roles a bit more open. This is part of creating a repeatable process and equipping hiring managers with standard offer letter templates not only ensures consistency, it saves overhead time and costs. Taking a few minutes to configure templates for each hiring workflow can empower managers to extend offers to top candidates with ease and confidence.

Hire & Onboard

Pending offer acceptance, the final step is hiring and onboarding the new employee, and having an approved document checklist is the part of any onboarding process. With a truly paperless onboarding process, a restaurant owner can ensure compliance and streamline employee onboarding by configuring which forms need to be completed for part-time, full-time, and management (I-9, W-4, direct deposit, benefits, any custom forms, etc). This is typically a clunky, time-consuming, and error-prone process, but with a small time investment from the restaurant owner or HR manager, it can actually set a precedent of professionalism and consistency for all new employees.

Building Custom Hiring Workflows With CareerPlug

CareerPlug is a dedicated partner to restaurant franchise systems and restaurant owners, providing powerful, easy to use hiring software that empowers users who consider themselves “non-software people” to hire effectively and build great teams. If you’d like to learn more about our software, services, or approach to hiring, please reach out to our restaurant hiring experts for more information. You can also download our free ebook, How to Build a Talent Magnet.

Restaurants: Meet Employment Demand & Build a Dream Team

Food-service employment demand growing, job-seeker interest low

The restaurant industry has seen a tremendous rebound from the economic downturn of the previous decade, and that growth has propelled full-service and quick-serve brands to expand their retail presence. This holds true for huge franchised brands, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and locally owned chains, such as Austin’s own Torchy’s Tacos, and the store growth has, of course, led to significantly more employment opportunity in traditional culinary destinations, such as NYC and San Francisco, as well as markets that had formerly been less appetizing. The truth is simple: young consumers are spending more at restaurants than they are at grocery stores, and most signals point to that trend continuing. While restaurateurs, franchisees, and franchisors are all reaping the benefits of serving the millennial generation, finding talented team members who cater to the high expectations of this young audience is critical to sustainable brand growth. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to staff restaurants, quick-serve and full-service alike, with experienced, dedicated talent. The brands that are able to build experienced teams will benefit on all fronts from diligent recruiting.

Competing for talent in the restaurant industry

With recruitment becoming more competitive in the industry, restaurateurs and franchisees need to prioritize hiring practices as a key differentiator between their brands and the competition, and most know that their staff is the key to success. Owners can feel trapped in their current hiring process because efforts to branch out from job fairs, walk-ins, and open interviews have failed to produce value at scale. However, competing on hiring can be one of the most effective and fruitful strategies an owner can employ – most just don’t know where to start.

Here’s the truth: building the perfect team can take years, and it’s incredibly challenging.

Here’s the key: start hiring more intentionally today.

If restaurateurs continue to rely on open interviews and walk-ins, they are doomed to limit their teams to the same quality of hires they’ve always made. If they find outstanding talent through these antiquated processes, it’s more of an anomaly than a predictable, repeatable success. Many full-service and boutique restaurant owners are frustrated by hiring and training chefs with minimal experience, only to see them leave to work elsewhere. Most quick-serve employers would say that they hire primarily students and inexperienced staff and view that employment as temporary from the start. The hidden cost of the high-turnover approach is astronomical, and the fact is that there are experienced candidates in almost every demographic – the food-service industry at large has settled for ineffective, expensive recruitment and trained owners to expect talent to walk in the door and ask for a job.

Great teams will not assemble themselves. Restaurateurs and franchisees must take a more active role in staffing.

Finding and fast tracking food-service talent

It’s possible to reach and attract experienced candidates with the help of job boards and referrals, but in order to identify them in your candidate pool, you’ll need hiring tools to evaluate and interview all applicants effectively. An applicant tracking system is a great place to start, and routing all applicants, regardless of where they applied, into a central system will reduce uncertainty about referrals and provide a basic framework for the hiring process. Leveraging an ATS is just the beginning, and building a repeatable process for management to follow is crucial. However, where restaurateurs and franchisees can become more competitive is by reaching out to promising candidates faster than the competition.

The concept is simple; job-seekers typically apply to more than one restaurant or business, and fast-moving hiring managers will have an edge on the competition by scheduling interviews first. This is why CareerPlug offers Fast Track. We encourage our food-service clients to determine their core criteria for evaluating talent and fast track applicants who meet those criteria to an immediate interview, enabling them to get ahead of the competition and quickly meet with experienced applicants. For instance, if a restaurant owner is looking to add a junior cook with at least a year of kitchen experience, we help speed up the process by surfacing the experienced candidates as soon as they apply, allowing our client to immediately schedule interviews. In some scenarios, responding to top talent promptly will make all the difference, and when restaurateurs are looking to handpick a phenomenal team, it’s critical to identify experienced talent without sifting through hundreds of resumes.

Build your dream team with CareerPlug

CareerPlug’s user-friendly hiring system offers a comprehensive menu of branded careers pages, job post distribution, mobile friendly applications and assessments, pre-screen questions, fast track, and paperless onboarding, plated with dedicated support to help your restaurant make hiring easier. We exist to help you assemble your ideal team, and we are committed to that goal, every step of the way. Connect with a hiring expert today!

Franchises: Brand Standards & Employment Brand

When it comes to how much brand freedom a franchisee should have, franchisors have mixed emotions. While some franchisors feel that it is necessary to set stringent standards on how a franchisee displays their brand, others are okay with giving their franchisees flexibility to slightly deviate from the franchise model provided. So what is the best way to balance regulations that protect your brand, while still supporting the goals of your franchisees?

IFA’s stance on franchisor/franchisee relationship

Collaboration between franchisors and franchisees is necessary to ensure “franchisees are given a regular role in the strategic direction of the system,” according to the International Franchise Association. This open flow of communication, however, doesn’t mean a franchisee’s opinions override the brand manager – franchisees taking this role wouldn’t be effective within the franchise model. It does mean that franchisees should be able to provide feedback from the micro view of the franchise relationship that can be considered in the “macro managing of the system” by the franchisor (IFA). According to the IFA, franchisors should ultimately be responsible for the direction of the brand and any changes made to it.

Franchisors providing clear brand standards

Franchisors should provide clear brand standards for their franchisees in the franchise disclosure document to maintain franchisees uniformity in this respect. One important brand standard  is the use of the franchise’s logo. Consistency is paramount and helps leverage brand power and awareness. The type of marketing collateral, such as taglines, that franchisees use should also be made clear by the franchisor. Marketing collateral ensures the brand is presented and received in the way the franchisor intends.  A franchisee should be consistent and recognizable with the corporate brand since too much variance of these brand standards may be confusing to customers and possibly job applicants. Because a misrepresentation of the brand can be harmful to the whole franchise system, franchisees should only use corporate approved trademarks to maintain the integrity of the franchise. Best practices by the franchisor – such as conveying how beneficial any changes will be to the franchisee’s business and slowly phasing changes in – can help secure franchisees from being blindsided by any new brand standards as well as give them time to adjust.   

Franchisees shape their own employment brand

While franchisors should set forth clear franchise brand standards, franchisees should take charge of their own employment brand.  A good employment brand is what makes people want to start working for you and continue working for you. A franchisee can foster a good employment brand by engaging in good business practices, such as offering fair wages, a healthy company culture, and creating a recruiting/hiring process that improves the candidate experience. Employment brand standards can lead to an environment with higher employee productivity, morale, and retention, and ultimately a great recruiting point for new employees. Franchisees that promote a strong employment brand can be very successful, especially if they are empowered with the right tools by their franchisor.

How CareerPlug can help

Careerplug can help franchisees build a strong employment brand by helping them develop a structured recruiting and hiring process to consistently bring on employees who will add to the success of their franchise.

To learn more about how CareerPlug can help empower your franchise, contact us today!

Toxicity in the Workplace

Because the hiring process doesn’t always work out perfectly, you’re bound to have worked with a not so great employee during your career. The problem is that you might not have known how bad they were when they first started. But once you figured it out, well, you know how toxic a bad employee can be.  How did they even find their way onto your team in the first place? Or … how did they find their way into managing your team?  

So, what’s really the lesser of two evils: a toxic team member or toxic manager?  Is one even more toxic than the other? How does the impact of a low performing coworker differ from that of a pessimistic leader? And is there a way these sinking ships sail the office into success?

Employee

We’ve all worked with these coworkers before. They show up late, have bad attitudes, and are the first to bolt out the door. They can usually be spotted with a dark cloud looming over their head. These are the workers that complain about their workload or given tasks every chance they get. These employees don’t usually last very long on your team because their attitude is usually noticeable by supervisors. The difference between the employee and the manager is the exposure to toxicity. With a team member, you’ll probably have more day-to-day face time with them.

A bad employee is damaging to your company and atmosphere, but does is it hold a flame to a horrible boss?

Manager

There’s no getting around it, having a toxic person in a leadership role is damaging. This person typically has influence – not only over your team, but sometimes the entire company.  Besides affecting the atmosphere and culture of a team, a pessimistic leader can stand in the way of others growth, creativity, and even fracture communication. While an encouraging leader fosters growth, a horrible manager has a penchant for control; they would rather dictate rather than teach. Ultimately, if a person on a leadership team is toxic, it doesn’t take long for the company to suffer.

Two negative people, two very different roles. Both are equally wrong for the company but is one more damaging than the other?

The answer? Both are equally harmful!

A company trying to grow in success should have employees who believe in the same mission, regardless if they’re a low level employee or a top leader. When hiring a potential candidate, you have to keep in mind that they are going to be as much of an influence on the company as any other current member.

Careerplug launched our first free ebook on Building a Talent Magnet this year. It’s all about what helping our clients attract talent and build successful hiring processes, and how growing businesses can start to build their own Talent Magnet. Our ebook can help you filter through toxic members so that you won’t face current dilemmas. 

 

For more hiring tips follow us on Twitter @CareerPlug

Justin Zungia is CareerPlug’s Sales & Marketing Intern