Digital Versus Personal Networks

The Battle Royal continues in the recruitment world.

Business people waiting for job interview. Five candidates competing for one position

What is the best way to help younger workers find a job?

Many individuals believed that tech savvy millennials would easily navigate the world of digital recruitment, but according to a Statistic Canada expert panel of youth employment, that is not the case. Vass Bednar, the chairwomen of the Canadian federal government panel on youth employment, states, “We are deluding ourselves if we think that by digitizing the job application process we are making it more democratic. Network effects are as strong as ever and this hurts young people with less social capital.”

From Stats Canada it looks like the power of the personal network is a persistent as ever in securing employment. Click on the two links below to read more information about this youth employment panel.

Click here to read about youth recruitment by HRM Online.

Click here to read a CTV news article.

Even in this digital age of recruitment where HR professionals believed that hiring would become more transparent and democratic, the research shows that personal social networks are still a significant factor in how employees are hired. HR has to be aware of this and ensure there are credible systems in place to allow networking opportunities for the younger employee trying to get a foothold into the workplace.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify a list of ten networking practices that a new HR professional should do to build their professional network.
  1. Discuss the ethics of hiring based on personal networks. Does it conflict with the basic goal of transparently in hiring?

HR: The Gatekeepers of Ethical Behaviour

Problem-solving concept. Bad and good

The responsibility that keeps growing.

The RCMP Commissioner, Bob Paulson, issued a teary-eyed apology in response to decades-long direct and systemic sexual harassment claims that have plagued the RCMP. This apology was issued after a $100 million settlement in this case.

Click here to read about the apology.

Apologies are needed and are required as they are the fundamental rebuilding blocks of any human relationship. That being said, HR Professionals should strive to never have to apologize for their behaviour or the behaviour of their organization. Apologies for simple mistakes and mishaps are acceptable, but HR should never have to apologize for a systemic issue or a breach of ethics. It is HR’s job to ensure that there should be no need for apology in the first place.

The Human Resources function and the profession requires us to be the gate keepers of and for ethical proactive organizational behaviour. This requires an accountability and a responsibility to ensure ethical behaviour from all individuals within the organization.

Below are some of the ethical competency standards from the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources in Canada (CPHR):

  • Adhere to ethical standards for human resources professionals by modeling appropriate behaviour to balance the interests of all stakeholders.
  • Adhere to legal requirements as they pertain to human resources policies and practices to promote organizational values and manage risk.
  • Recommend ethical solutions to the organization’s leadership by analyzing the variety of issues and options to ensure responsible corporate governance and manage risk.

Click here to see the Canadian Centre of Human Resources Association (CPHR) HR competency Framework.

As rational managers it is our obligation as HR professionals to act not only rationally but also ethically. HR professionals cannot allow the unethical behaviour to seep knowingly or unknowingly into their organization.

HR ethical responsibility just keeps growing. HR has to use standards, policies and practices to ensure ethical organizational standards, and sometimes the pressure to behave unethically is overwhelming to the HR professional. That is when the HR professional must stand their ground and sometimes make very difficult ethical decisions.

When I was a young middle manager in HR with very little formal authority or organizational influence, I was confronted with a profound ethical situation. At that time I was working for a printing company that was allowing illegal immigrants, all women and their children, to come into the printing plant during the night shift and stuff flyers into newspapers. It was appalling.  These were dangerous sweatshop-like conditions, especially for young children. I brought this to the attention of the plant manager and the VP of HR. They told me that due the owner having a 51% controlling interest in the company they could not do anything about it.

I had to make a decision.

I was told the situation would not change. I made the decision to quit the HR position as I did not want to have any responsibility when things went wrong. It was a very hard decision at the time for personal reasons. I needed to be employed, but I could not stay with this organization and be compliant with unethical, illegal conduct.

Did I do enough? As I reflect back, I did not. I never reported this violation and this haunts me to this day. I do not know if it stopped or if a child ever got seriously hurt. I just walked away!

If you are ever in a workplace situation and you see your organization about to make an unethical decision, do not just walk away. Your professional voice must be heard!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research a company that has been caught acting unethically in some way through a root cause analysis.
  2. Identify five key things HR could have done to prevent the ethical breach.

Time is the Answer


Hands holding clocks

The question is, how do we, as Human Resources professionals, make the recruitment process successful for both parties?

Time can be our best friend or our worst enemy, especially as it is one of the key components of any recruitment strategy.   In a recent LinkedIn post, Scott Case states that we need to ‘get real’ with candidates about the actual skills, culture, and work environment that are involved in any interview process.  More importantly, he identifies how quickly we expect the interview process to proceed and the pressure that is in place to make the hiring decision as soon as possible.

Click Here to Read the Article

Making sure that the interview process is transparent, however, does not just happen.  A commitment to transparency about the types of skills, culture and work environment that the organization really wants, comes from a well-planned, and well-timed end-to-end strategic recruitment process.  It is true that the candidate really does need to understand what the potential workplace is like.  After all, the employment decision is not just on the side of the employer.  The candidate too has to make the big decision whether or not this particular job, with this particular employer, is the right fit for them based on their own personal values and workplace experiences.

When we think about making the big decisions in our own lives, most of us need lots of time to think about the pros and cons of that decision. When decision-making is rushed, the end result often does not work out well for anyone involved.  When hiring decisions go wrong, the impact has significant negative ripple effects on all of the parties involved.  As Human Resources professionals, we need to ensure that the hiring decision goes the right way, by allowing everyone involved to have the time to make the decisions they need to make, based on well planned, thoughtful, and transparent processes along the way.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Thinking about your own approach to decision making, what steps do you follow to make the ‘right’ decision for you?
  2. After going through a recruitment process as a candidate, have you ever decided that the position you were interested in was not the right one for you? What happened during the process that helped you make that decision?
  3. As a Human Resources Professional, identify how much time is needed for an end-to-end successful recruitment process.
  4. Why is it important to ensure that candidates have a clear understanding of the required skills, work culture, and the environment involved for any position in any organization?

Benefits of Blind Auditions

Does objectivity really take the sting out of rejection?

Source: ofoto/Shutterstock
Source: ofoto/Shutterstock

Bias.  We all have it.  It appears either as implicit or explicit; conscious or unconscious.  It is always with us as part of our own perception of the world.

It is, also, one of the biggest obstacles that keeps getting in the way of effective hiring processes.  How we impose our personal biases on others may have an incredibly powerful impact on candidates throughout the job selection process.

The following podcast from CBC’s “The Spark” , discusses a few different methodologies to reduce the impact of bias during the applicant screening and interview assessment stages.

Click Here to Listen to the Podcast.

GapJumpers is a technology based resource that allows for ‘performance auditions’ which may open the door to a different approach for candidate screening.  It is, in essence a ‘blind’ audition.  The statistics cited in the first interview seem to speak for themselves when the use of blind auditions improved the diversity of demographics in a particular selection process.  In the second interview, Ian Cook explores the issue of bias in recruitment processes from multiple aspects including the actual sourcing of candidates from diverse constituencies.

All of these tips and techniques seem to be critical in order to reduce the risk of bias in selection processes.  Why?

It is interesting to note that this clip begins with a very powerful emotional memory, described by the host, about getting the good news confirming her new job.  On the other side, she refers to the emotional reaction that each one of us may have all felt when we were rejected for a particular position.

We are so diligent in the field of Human Resources about neutralizing and objectifying processes in order to minimize our implicit biases and unconscious perceptions.  We want to make the processes fair and accessible.  As we make processes more bias-free, neutral, and objective are we striving to reduce the emotional, subjective, feeling elements linked to making the ‘right’ hiring decisions?

This may be what we want to achieve from a process perspective.  However, in the end, does any objective process really take the emotional sting out of rejection?

We cannot forget that rejection, no matter how it is delivered, it always hurts.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you perform in a ‘blind’ job audition if you were not able to present yourself in person?
  2. According to Ian Cook (second interview), there are fewer examples of ‘reverse discrimination’ in Canada than in the United States. From your experience, what evidence supports this statement?
  3. What is reputational effect? Why is this important in any recruitment process?
  4. Promoting a diversity referral process seems to be similar to networking. What are the specific benefits that a diversity referral process would provide?
  5. As an HR professional, how will you respond to individuals want to make ‘networking’ connections with you?
  6. Do you remember your first job offer? What was your reaction?
  7. Do you remember being rejected for a job? What was your reaction?

The Scrapper or the Silver Spoon?

As Human Resources professionals, we are taught (and we teach others) to make sure that everything we do is in compliance with rules and regulations.  This is especially true in the areas of Recruitment and Selection.  We work hard at making sure that there are no appearances of bias in potential candidate considerations.  We apply the consistency lens throughout our human resources processes with vigorous tenacity so that we can proceed with confidence in making the best hiring decisions.

Sometimes, however, these approaches cloud the lens and we miss seeing who the best candidate really is.

Regina Hartley, a director of human resources with UPS Information Systems, provides a refreshing approach to seeking, looking at and finding the best candidate in her recent TED talk.

Click here to watch the TED talk

Ms. Hartley definitely provides inspiration to the rest of us – both as Human Resources Professionals and as potential candidates looking for future success in our own careers.

We all have elements of the ‘scrapper’ somewhere in our employment histories.  By looking for and celebrating the success of the scrapper, we open the doors to a host of dynamic and talented individuals who might be missed along the way.

Cheers to the scrappers!

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you had to make a decision to interview the ‘scrapper’ or the ‘silver spoon’ candidate, which one would you pick? Why?
  2. Identify one element from this video clip that you disagree with and explain why.
  3. Which candidate profile do you think others see you as? Are you perceived as a scrapper or silver spoon?
  4. Ms. Hartley refers to ‘Post Traumatic Growth’. What is this and how does it have a positive impact on an individual’s career success?