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Social media’s use in hiring

15 Oct

Social media is playing an increasing role in human resources, especially when it comes to engaging the public and recruiting new employees. According to Business 2 Community, the many different platforms for communicating such as Facebook and LinkedIn can make hiring even easier. A simple job description and a link to a position opening is a great way to get a company noticed by individuals who wouldn't otherwise visit a company's website.

It's also great for human resources solutions since the hiring department may also view a prospective candidate's social media accounts to see whether they'd be a good fit or not. 

Social networking
Platforms such as Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn are great ways for human resources to find someone who might be right for a job opening but isn't an active candidate, according to Forbes. Sending that person a message along with information on the position could get him or her to switch jobs to your firm. 

Advertising job openings via social media also cuts down on legwork and expenses since human resources can simply post openings for free online instead of taking out a classified ad like in the old days. 

According to The Society of Human Resource Management, using social media for hiring purposes is the new norm as a 2013 study from the trade publication showed 77 percent of companies used social networking websites to recruit employees.

Risks involved
If a human resource department does use social media to recruit, it should be wary of the risks involved. The same survey by the SHRM found that 74 percent of respondents were also concerned with the legal risks involved in using LinkedIn, Facebook or other websites to assess a potential job candidate. According to the SHRM, employers can learn a job prospect's age, race and health issues by searching for the person online, which is information they cannot take under consideration when hiring or passing on a candidate.

Some employers choose to avoid social media when it comes to the hiring process, CGMA Magazine reported.

"I don't look at [candidates] on social media," Robert Blumberg, an employment lawyer for Littler Mendelson PC, told CGMA Magazine. "I could. I affirmatively choose not to, because I don't really want to know that information. I think there are too many dangers. There are too many things that you shouldn't know and shouldn't be part of the hiring process."

Noncompete clauses pose issues for human resources

7 Oct

Human resources should be aware and wary of job candidates still under noncompete clauses. According to HRMorning.com, hiring someone still under one or not asking during the interview process could cost a company millions. A business could have the best employee management system to aid human resources in their work, but recruiters and HR need to be vigilant when asking job candidates necessary questions.

Costly mistakes
BioSense Webster, a cardiac medical device manufacturer owned by Johnson and Johnson, had to pay $1.2 million after knowingly hiring someone who worked for competitor St. Jude Medical, HRMorning.com reported.

When BioSense Webster hired Jose de Castro he was still under a three-year noncompete agreement with St. Jude Medical and he performed similar job duties with his new company. While the judge in the case subsequently threw out St. Jude's lawsuit, the judge ordered BioSense to pay attorney's fees, the cost St. Jude incurred from losing de Castro as well as lost profits.

Noncompetes becoming more commonplace
According the The Washington Post, noncompete agreements are becoming more prevalent in many different work sectors. They're no longer just used to keep executives and developers from jumping ship to another firm and potentially passing on proprietary information, The New York Times reported. Even fast-food chain Jimmy John's made news when it came to light that the company had employees sign two-year noncompete clauses, CNN Money reported. Employees agreed that they would not work at another sandwich store within three miles of one of the chain's restaurants.

"There has been a definite, significant rise in the use of noncompetes, and not only for high tech, not only for high-skilled knowledge positions," Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, told The Times. "They've become pervasive and standard in many service industries."

More noncompete agreements means more lawsuits, The Washington Post noted. And this is why it's important for hiring managers and HR to ask potential employees about any clauses they signed with their former employers, HRMorning.com advised.

A company can be sued if they knew their employee was under a noncompete agreement with his or her old employer. Businesses can also be taken to court if their was a reasonable expectation that the person they hired was under an agreement but they failed to ask before hiring him or her, HRMorning.com stated.

Lawsuits on the rise
The number of court cases regarding noncompetes are on the rise, The Wall Street Journal reported. The percentage of lawsuits involving the breach rose by 61 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to research law firm Beck Reed Riden LLP did for the newspaper. Most noncompete clause suits are settled out of court, The Journal noted.

Some companies already decline to hiring candidates who are still locked in a clause from their former employers due to possible ligation and court costs. Many just don't want the headaches or worry and because of that it can keep some businesses from growing.

"We're around $8 million in revenue," James Keating, CEO for commercial insurance broker, Keating Group. "I'm confident we would be double our size if we didn't have that to deal with."

With noncompetes and lawsuits both on the rise, it pays for human resources and hiring managers to ask the right questions of candidates in job interviews. It can save a business both time and money by avoiding court or paying someone until the clause the ends. 

Even if human resources doesn't suspect a job candidate is under a noncompete agreement, they should ask anyway to keep their company safe.

Motivation versus experience: Which is better for employees?

2 Oct

Your company uses the latest in training management software for new hires and regularly works with staff on employee engagement ideas, but what do you do with staff members that aren't motivated to learn? Employees with veritable skill sets can be a boon to businesses. However, if they only want to remain in one position in the company they might not be as useful as you think.

In today's job market and workplace, self-motivators are increasingly attractive to businesses looking to fill positions. According to Inc. Magazine, the world is shifting in favor of candidates and employees who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit during the interview or while on the job. 

Potential versus performance
Applicants who show potential and mesh with a company's culture are more likely to be hired than people who demonstrate their experience and qualifications. A joint study from Harvard Business School and Standford University showed candidates who displayed potential received more job offers and money than those who had a proven track record of high performance.

While highly motivated job applicants might not have all the qualifications for a position, they will be of considerable use if they are willing to learn new skills to meet company expectations. A candidate who's assertive gives managers a better picture of whether or not he or she will fit in with the company, according to The Society of Human Resource Management.

"When we are sourcing for candidates, there are two important factors: Can they do the job and do they want to do the job?," Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm, told the SHRM. "The first level is a technical assessment, meaning, do they meet the qualifications? Once you have determined that they have met the requirements, then during the interview you can assess if there is a cultural fit."

Can do spirit
A recent survey by Futurestep, a candidate recruiting firm, showed that out of 500 company executives surveyed a third said an applicant's motivation was one of the compelling factors that got them the job. Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents said most of their good applicants are active job seekers instead of passive candidates.

"What executives tell us when they say a candidate's motivations are most important is that the person they hire must be a good fit for the company's culture," Vic Khan, managing director of global operations for Futurestep, said in a press release. "For example, one very potent driver is power – the motivation to attain work-related status, visibility, responsibility and influence. Those who work in a competitive environment and have this driver would likely be highly engaged and successful."

High-performing job candidates are easy to spot since human resources can verify the qualifications listed on their resumes. However, applicants with potential and great motivation are harder since their track record isn't so easily quantifiable, The New Talent Times reported.

Changing work trends
Applicants that show a level of potential along with entrepreneurial traits are at a greater advantage in succeeding in the job market today since many trends in the working world are changing, Inc. noted.

Employees are judged more on results and the amount of work they can finish rather than the hours worked that week. Punching in at 9 a.m. and leaving by 5 p.m. is no longer the standard as people take work home with them or use cloud-based software, smartphones and laptops to stay connected to the office 24/7.

Staff members who value their work and output and how it can advance their company are employees who are truly passionate and motivated.

The Americans with Disabilities Act at 23: What employers need to know

22 Sep

One of the most important pieces of legislation to influence employee management in the modern workplace was the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. Despite the fact that this law is in its 23rd year of enforcement, there are still a number of companies that either don't understand the nuances of the act or remain willfully ignorant. Regardless of the circumstances, business owners are responsible for educating their human resources directors and managers on the ins and outs of the ADA and its amendments to prevent legal action.

Myra Creighton has been with Fisher & Phillips, LLP since 1993 and specializes in ADA and Family and Medical Leave Act claims. She spoke with us to illuminate the finer points of the legislation as they relate to talent management and recruiting.

Q: Who's covered under the ADA?

A: Any individual who has a disability, an actual disability, which means you have an impairment that substantially limits you in a major life activity. The word "substantial" would suggest just what that term means, but it doesn't.

[When] the ADA Amendments Act was passed, Congress asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to redefine this term so that it's broader. Rather than defining it, the EEOC came up with a bunch of guidelines for it.

In the statute itself, one of the issues [that hadn't been there] before was if you had a mitigating measure, such as medication or prosthetic devices, you weren't disabled. Now, you can't take into account, in analyzing whether someone is disabled, their medication. So, of course, most insulin-dependent diabetics are going to be disabled. People on high blood pressure medication, when you have to consider them in their unmitigated state, are going to be disabled.

So, then there is a record of a disability, which says, "In some point in the past, I was diagnosed with a disability."

And then one of the biggest changes was perceived as, prior to the Amendments Act, the way the court construed that term is "I, as the employer, have to perceive that you're substantially limited in a major life activity." It's pretty hard to prove. It was generally proved when, for example, you had a manufacturing environment, someone has a heart attack and they come back to work and the employers says, "We don't think we have anything here you can do." That's pretty indicative of [the idea]: "We think you're substantially limited in working."

And the other is what I call the manager [or] supervisor comment cases where a manager or supervisor would say something, would suggest that belief. Now, "perceived-as" is "I have an impairment, or my employer thinks I have an impairment, and I've suffered an adverse action." That alone will establish "perceived-as."

Q: Have you seen the laws change a lot?

A: Well, certainly the ADA has changed significantly with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act. Prior to the ADA Amendments Act, employers won probably 95 percent of ADA cases. And they won it on the issue of "You're not disabled." It is very difficult to establish disability, and, frequently, when someone established they were disabled, they also established they were not otherwise qualified.

So, it was a real problem for plaintiffs to get anywhere, and there was a lot of litigation on what's a disability and what's not, not so much on an employer's affirmative defenses, like business necessity and undue hardship.

Now it's hard to, in all honesty, advise on whether or not something's actually a disability. So, an employer is, to some extent, rolling the dice when somebody requests an accommodation, they're trying to determine is it a disability or not. Because almost every case, when they analyze it, starts with the [founding principle]: "Well, we should construe this term broadly."

Now it's the focus the EEOC wanted, and that's driving the analysis to reasonable accommodation.

Q: Can you talk about what's considered reasonable?

A: You have to accommodate an actual disability and potentially a record of the disability. You do not have to accommodate a perceived-as disability.

Basically, a reasonable accommodation is something that allows you to perform the essential functions of your job or to have the same benefits and privileges of your position. So an easy one is: "I'm in a wheelchair, there is a small cafeteria on site, and yet it's not accessible to me in my wheelchair. I can't get the door open." That's an easy fix.

Then there are things like a finite amount of unpaid leave, a reduced part-time schedule for a finite period of time. It could be that you put things to me in writing because I've got some mental impairment or learning impairment.

The easier thing is to say what's not a reasonable accommodation. It's not a reasonable accommodation to provide indefinite leave, eliminate an essential job function or be required to simply ignore misconduct, even if it's disability-related.

So, the alcoholic who says, "Yes, I know I was drunk at work, but you still can't fire me, you need to accommodate me and excuse it," you're not required to do that.

Once you hit on what's reasonable, the question is: Is it an undue hardship? It can be an undue hardship in a couple of different ways. One way is if it's a financial hardship. That's a pretty hard defense to prove unless you're a mom-and-pop employer with 15 employees. The other way is if it imposes a significant disruption to the business.

Q: What are some of the other challenges that employers might experience when complying with the ADA?

A: Let's just say you've got someone who has gone through their chemo treatment, but now they're suffering from chemo fog, which deals with somebody whose short-term memory is not good, [and] staying on task may be difficult.

There are a number of fact sheets, guidances the EOC puts out, [but] what do you do? That's a situation where it's a little bit difficult to figure out what the accommodation is. And sometimes you create [customized] tasks, and in some jobs it may work and in some jobs it may not.

So you have to look at a case [where] there's a gap between what their condition allows them to do and what the job is. What you have to do is figure out what's that bridge between those two things. Is there a bridge that would allow them to do that?

Q: Regarding compliance, would you say that HR professionals have similar challenges to employers, or would they have any unique challenges?

A: A lot of times HR people face a degree of resistance from the front-line supervisor or manager. So you have a business unit, and the business unit has their goals and that business manager has his responsibilities. People may not recognize the obligation that exists. And so it may just be that the business unit is thinking, "We can't do this," and HR is saying "Wait a minute, let's all sit down and talk about what we're doing here."

Now most companies are savvy, and still today, one of the biggest issues that comes up – and it's on the EEOC's strategic enforcement plan – is the issue of leave. So you get 12 weeks of FMLA leave, and that's job-protected and it doesn't matter what kind of undue hardship that leave imposes on the employer. Undue hardship is irrelevant for that 12 weeks of time.

The person exhausts their leave. You can't just say at that point, "Hey, you have to come back, or we'll let you go." Now you've crossed from "FMLA Land" to "ADA Land." The most frustrating part there is that undue hardship does matter, but there's not a finite period of time that's reasonable.

But there's a process, almost a flow chart in a sense, that you have to work your way through because one thing is a good-faith effort to accommodate a defense to compensatory and punitive damages under the ADA. So, even if you end up with a claim of failure to accommodate, it may be that you made this good-faith effort and you're at least cutting off some damages. And you should be making an effort to accommodate anyway.