Recruitment Questions of the Week

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What’s the Most Effective Way to Use Panel Interviews?

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HR Question:

As a retention and growth opportunity, we have decided to shift to panel interviews to engage our team members in the hiring process. What’s the most effective way to use panel interviews?

HR Answer:

Panel interviews, when planned properly, can greatly exceed the effectiveness of single interviewer methods.

Why Single Interviewer Methods Can Be Difficult

From the perspective of an interviewer, conducting an effective interview can be a challenging task.  The interviewer must concentrate on asking good questions and listening to the candidate’s responses.  At the same time, the interviewer has to formulate an appropriate follow-up question, monitor how much time is left, jot down interview notes and, most importantly, pay close attention to both verbal and non-verbal responses of the interviewee. These tasks altogether create distractions that cause an interviewer to miss important cues from the candidate.

Panel interviewing addresses the shortcomings of the single interviewer method. As the Society of Human Resources shares, panel interviews allow interviewers to get a broader picture of the candidate and their experience while observing the candidate’s verbal and non-verbal responses and taking good notes. From the candidate’s perspective, it can significantly reduce the amount of time that they must spend interviewing with the employer as compared to interviewing with several employees separately.

How to Build an Effective Interviewing Panel

The interview panel generally should consist of three to five members with one of those individuals playing the role of panel facilitator. Whenever possible, the panel should represent the diversity of your organization. Although the specific individuals selected to participate on an interview panel will most likely change based on the positions you are seeking to fill, once a panel is selected for a particular role, the members of that panel should stay consistent until the position is filled. Panel members should receive training on effective interviewing techniques and be briefed in advance regarding their role in meeting with the candidates.

Before each interview, the panel facilitator will be responsible for a few tasks, such as assigning questions to each panel member, establishing the expectations of the panel, briefing the panel on certain areas for more emphasis or depth of questioning depending on the candidate’s situation, as well as distributing the materials to be used by the panel — candidate resume, application, interview guide, job description, etc. Ideally, these materials should be provided ahead of time for each panel member to review in advance.

During the interview, the facilitator will introduce the candidate to the panel, monitor time and, after the candidate has departed, lead the evaluation and consensus rating of the candidate.  Preferably, panel facilitators should have good leadership skills, interviewing experience, and consensus-building skills.

The “Flow” of an Effective Panel Interview

The best panel interviews follow a sequence that allows panel members to get the most information from the candidate.  Effective panel interviews will naturally follow the same steps.

First, introductions are made by the main facilitator, who will also detail the process for the candidate. The facilitator should let the candidate know there will be time for their questions at the end, so the candidate can feel at ease.

Using the same interview guide, the facilitator and other panel members will take turns asking questions of the candidate. It’s important that other panel members remain silent and take note of the candidate’s responses when it isn’t their turn to allow the candidate to focus on responding to only one person, as well as to make sure they’ve accurately captured the candidate’s thoughts. Once the panel members’ and candidate’s questions are answered, the facilitator will tell the candidate what to expect next and will escort the candidate from the interview room.

Afterward, the facilitator will lead the discussion on the candidate’s responses, qualifications, and ratings for each area questioned during the interview. Panel members will discuss their ratings, point out the basis for their evaluations, compare their decisions, and support their observations. Finally, a consensus on next steps should be reached.

The Importance of Reducing Candidate Stress

The most effective interviews provide candidate responses that are candid and thorough.  Candidate stress can inhibit straightforward responses and reduce the effectiveness of the interview.  Therefore, a genuine attempt should be made to put the interviewee at ease. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Giving the candidate enough warning that this will be a panel interview, along with background information on each panelist to help the candidate have a better idea of who they will be meeting with.
  • Avoid seating panel members behind a massive table or facing the applicant as if it were an interrogation or a trial by jury.
  • Make sure that each interviewer finishes asking all of their assigned questions before others ask follow-up questions. Without this, the candidate may feel interrogated rather than engaging in an open dialogue.

Special thanks to Terry Wilson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior HR Business Advisor for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week!

Could you use some help in recruiting the best talent for your organization? Learn about our Recruitment Services, or better yet, Contact Us to find out how we can help. 

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Top 3 Reasons Why New Hires Leave… And How to Turn Around Your Turnover!

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HR Question:

We’re struggling with high turnover, and what’s particularly frustrating is to see so many new hires leave. What can we do to retain our new hires?

HR Answer:

We have endured a pandemic and in its wake, US employers are experiencing record-high turnover rates resulting from the “great resignation.” It sounds like your business is in the thick of navigating through this. Like many others, you are probably spending more time and money recruiting, onboarding, and training employees, only to see new hires leave sooner and sooner. It is estimated that 20-40% of new hires leave in their first 90 days. This leaves many employers scratching their heads asking, “Why can’t we keep our new employees?”

When a new hire leaves a position early in their employment, it is typically for one of three reasons:

  1. The job did not turn out to be what they expected
  2. They do not feel a part of the team
  3. The business down the street offered more money

I’ll discuss each of these turnover reasons below and share specific actions you can take to address these issues.

What to do if your new hires leave

When you experience turnover, your first step should be to find out why your employees are leaving. Have HR or someone other than the direct supervisor take a few minutes to reach out and talk to the departing employee. Most people want to express their frustrations, and you can learn a great deal by asking a few prompting questions followed by listening carefully. If an employee left without warning, text them and ask for a brief response with no pressure to provide more than a reason.

When the job is NOT what the employee expected…

Candidates are not typically good interviewers. When coaching people in their career search, I always remind them that they are responsible for interviewing the company as thoroughly as the company is interviewing them. They should have a list of questions for the interviewers that help them evaluate the organization’s culture, work environment, leadership, development, and advancement opportunities. But most importantly, they have to get a clear picture of the job duties to determine if they will enjoy them and have what it takes to be successful in the role. Many candidates are just so nervous they don’t take the time to do their own investigating which can result in new hires leaving.

So what can you do? Help your candidates by filling in these blanks during the interview. Continue to note whether the candidate has questions or has done any research on the company (this says something about the candidates’ preparedness), provide a copy of the job description, and give them a company tour, but go above and beyond this.

Paint a realistic picture of the job and the company for candidates by:

  • Job Shadowing – Have candidates spend time following an employee doing the same/similar job, so they can see first-hand what the job entails.
  • Walking the Job – Walk through the job site with the candidate. Have them talk through what they see, what they would do in this situation, what resources they need, and what questions they have.
  • Providing a Job/Company Presentation – Create a presentation for job candidates with videos of the jobs being performed (or borrow one of the hundreds provided by the Department of Labor’s Careeronestop page) along with pictures of the work environment, your culture, organization structure, compensation programs and benefits, etc. You can use this with groups of candidates when you are hiring multiple people for similar roles.
  • Including Multiple Employees in Interviews – Allow the candidates to speak to multiple employees, including the direct supervisor, members of the team, and another person doing the same/similar job. These company representatives should have prepared information to share about the job and company and be ready to answer candidate questions.

Painting a clear picture of the job will help some candidates self-select out of the applicant pool, but that is what you want. Then you are left with the candidates who have a realistic picture of the job and your organization who WANT to work for you.

When the New Hire Doesn’t Feel Part of the Team…

Think about a time when you walked into a room with a group of people and had a hard time connecting with anyone there. You probably felt like an outsider and wanted to leave the group. This happens more than we want to admit, especially in a new job. When you do not feel “a part” of something, it is very easy to walk away, assuming no one will notice or care when you’re gone. So, it’s not surprising that new hires leave when they don’t feel connected.

Build new employees’ connections with:

  • Daily Check-ins (or at each scheduled shift) – Ask a simple question about their day, a current project, their weekend, technology, who they have met, or what help they need to do their work that day. It doesn’t have to be more than five minutes, but just connecting reminds them that you know they are there. And it doesn’t hurt to tell them that you are glad they are there!
  • Team Mentor/Buddy –  Some organizations use a formal buddy or mentor program, which is very beneficial. If your organization is too small for a formal program, do it informally. Just ask another person to reach out to the new hire at least weekly for the first three months. This person can invite the new hire to join their group for lunch or answer questions that the new employee may not feel comfortable asking their supervisor.
  • Plan for Virtual Employees – Don’t forget your virtual employees, as this can be the most challenging group to keep connected. For some creative ideas, check out this article from Scavify.

When a Competitor Offers More Money…

Budgets will be stretched this year as rising compensation and inflation are big challenges employers are facing. Money is being thrown at applicants in the form of higher hourly rates and salaries, signing bonuses, retention bonuses, performance bonuses, etc. This results in employees jumping (or being recruited) from one employer to the next to get a quick bump in pay. It is easy for competitors to entice new hires to leave when they are not happy with or feel disconnected from the job or the company culture from the start.

Address employee compensation by:

  • Assessing the Market – Learn what current pay rates are for jobs in your industry and location and compensate your employees fairly. If you don’t have the time or expertise to collect and analyze the data, you can reach out to an external compensation & benefits expert to assist in providing benchmark compensation reports for comparison.
  • Offering Competitive Pay That Can be Maintained –  Ensure that higher pay rates/bonuses for new employees DO NOT:
    • Put such a strain on the budget that you will not be able to continue paying that rate or cause you to hire fewer workers than needed therefore making existing employees’ jobs even harder; and/or
    • Create pay inequities with existing staff to cause them to walk away.
  • Showcasing Internal Career Paths – Show new employees what their job will look like in six months, a year, two years, and how their compensation will increase so they have something to work toward.
  • Communicating Your Value – Your recruiting strategy must include the intrinsic value your organization offers (benefits, culture, career path) going beyond compensation. This is the time to develop a Total Compensation Statement if you don’t already have one, and then live up to the hype of what makes your organization great. Check out these fun recruiting videos shared by Builtin to see how they share their messages.

While we will likely continue to see high turnover in the coming year according to economists, there are strategies your organization can take to retain your employees, especially your newest and most vulnerable new hires. A little extra time and money spent in doing these things will save an exorbitant amount spent in turnover.

Thank you to Lorrie Diaz, Senior HR Business Advisor with the Strategic HR Business Advisors team, for contributing to this HR Question of the Week.

If your organization is struggling with high turnover, Strategic HR can help you to understand what’s going wrong and identify the necessary steps to increase employee engagement and retention. Contact Us to turn around your turnover!

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How Can I Use Salary Benchmarking As a Recruitment Strategy?

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HR Question:

Like many companies, we’re struggling with recruiting right now. I’ve been tasked with doing salary benchmarking to see if compensation is part of the problem, but I’m not sure how to go about doing it. Can you advise me on how to tackle the benchmarking process?

HR Answer:

Attracting and hiring talent is one of the most challenging yet critical processes for any organization. Descriptions of a welcoming work environment, rich benefit offerings, and career growth are frequently at the top of the most attractive attributes that organizations tout in their job ads, but one feature stands out among the rest – salary. If you are struggling to hire the talent that you need and your organization has not assessed the market pay rates for your positions, or if it has been a while since you’ve done this analysis, then it will be very beneficial to gather salary benchmarking data to ensure that you’re offering a competitive and attractive salary, particularly in a candidate’s market.

What is Salary Benchmarking?

What is salary benchmarking? According to Indeed, it’s a process in which companies compare salaries to other competitive companies to understand the market average. This allows them to create compensation structures and programs that can meet (if not beat) other competitors in the industry and attract top talent.

But beyond attracting talent, salary benchmarking can also take steps towards reducing costs, rather than just increasing them. Consider the average amount of time and money that goes into hiring, onboarding, training, and equipping new employees. Then, picture your bottom line should a candidate leave soon after joining the team for a higher, more competitive salary – one you had the ability to offer in the first place. And now, the process has to start all over again due to a more competitive offer. So how can organizations reduce the frequency of these situations through salary benchmarking?

How to Begin Salary Benchmarking

First, determine the roles you want to benchmark and create descriptions for each of them. The descriptions should include key job responsibilities, skills, education, and experience criteria. Next, determine the market criteria you want to compare against. Factors to consider are companies within the same industry, geography, organizations of similar size, and cost of living.

After you have established your criteria, conduct external research and compile salary data by comparing your roles against similar roles in the market(s) you’ve identified. Salary data can be found through several sources including online salary surveys, job posting websites, compensation reports, and third-party providers. Keep in mind, when using free online resources, be sure to reference several sources as the data may not be up to date or completely accurate.

Once you’ve compiled external salary data for each job, establish an internal pay range that aligns closely with the external market. Salary ranges should include a minimum and maximum pay range, and a mid-point that lies within 50% of the range. Once you understand what your organization is able to pay, use the salary range to create a compensation and recruitment strategy for your organization. For example, are you able to pay “at market”, meaning your pay is at a level that matches the market average salary for a specific job? Alternatively, you may opt to pay ‘above market’ and offer a higher rate of pay than other companies in the market. Company and employee performance, the company’s financial ability to pay, and overall business strategy should drive the compensation philosophy you adopt.

I Have My Strategy… Now What?

Adhere to your compensation strategy and salary ranges to maintain both internal and external salary equity for your employees. In other words, internal employees within the same job classification and similar experience levels should be paid similarly to their internal counterparts. New hires should be paid within the established pay range of the position and their pay should be commensurate with their level of experience. An employee’s placement in the salary range should align with their overall experience level and tenure. Entry-level hires should be paid toward the lower 25% percentile of the range while more experienced employees should be paid between the 50% mid-point or 75% percentile of the range.

What About My Current Staff?

What happens when the candidates you’re recruiting for all have higher salary demands than the salaries of your current staff? It could mean your salary structure is out of date and lagging behind what the market is offering. Or, there may be dynamic forces in place which have drastically shifted salaries – such as inflation, increased competition, or a major market event.

In either case – it’s best to research, validate, and adjust the starting salaries for the positions you’re recruiting for rather than continue to offer below-market wages. These lower wages can not only hurt your recruitment efforts but also compound any “below-market” compensation issue you’re experiencing. Instead, conduct an internal analysis of positions and/or employees who are being underpaid and develop a strategy to bring pay up in line with the marketplace.  This may require an immediate adjustment to salaries or, a long-term plan which brings salaries up over time.

Lastly, in addition to starting rates and salaries, hiring managers and HR professionals should also benchmark what other perks are being offered to attract talent. Sign-on bonuses, flexible work hours, and enhanced time-off benefits are just a few of the perks offered by employers today to help attract staff and retain staff.

Special thanks to Terry Salo, Senior HR Business Partner, for contributing to this HR Question of the Week. 

Need assistance in benchmarking your organization’s salaries? Strategic HR can help! Contact us to get started.

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How can internships address your talent shortage?

HR Question:

We’re having a hard time meeting our business goals as we’re understaffed and finding it difficult to fill our open positions. The idea of using interns came up in a brainstorming session. Should my company consider creating an internship program to address our talent shortage?

HR Answer:

You are not alone as many companies are currently struggling to find the talent that they need. It is smart to be thinking about various ways to address your talent gaps, and internships can be a great way to help lighten your current workloads while providing helpful work experience to college students. They also give you the chance to groom potential future employees.

How a lack of internships has impacted college students, aka your future employees

In 2020, the number of internships that were completely removed or scaled back was significant. It’s understandable that internships, which by design are temporary and transitional in nature, were affected by the pandemic. However, it’s important to recognize the impact of the reduction of available internships on college students, aka your future employees.

First, college students depend on internships to solidify their field of choice and receive relevant work experience.  With fewer internships, many students are graduating unsure and unprepared.  According to Forbes, “About three out of four students said losing their internship has caused significant disruption to their future.”

Secondly, 2020 and 2021 college graduates who couldn’t complete internships are finding it difficult to secure full-time positions in their fields. Their resumes are lacking the robust one or two internships experiences that employers, like you, are typically looking for.

When companies are recruiting to fill full-time positions, they often look for candidates who can bring some relevant experience. Previous experience, particularly through internships and co-ops for new college grads, can provide relevant work experience to help them hit the ground running in a full-time post-graduation role. It’s difficult to get experience if internships are not offered. Hence, the argument for the value of internships for both the students and employers.


How internships can address labor shortages, fill your talent pipeline, and create brand awareness

As you’ve likely experienced, the hiring landscape is challenging for many positions. With labor shortages created by fewer available workers than open jobs (.7 person for every open job according to BLS), coupled with the Great Resignation, employers are struggling to fill many of their open positions. As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported, internships have “proved advantageous for companies that need some extra help but can’t afford to take on new staff or hire a temp.” We encourage you to look at how you can leverage internships to get meaningful work done that helps you to meet your business goals.

In addition to addressing immediate needs, training college students for your future employment is a forward-thinking recruiting strategy.  Hiring an intern is one of the best ways to “try before buying” your next employee. It also gives interns an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work in your organization which can lead to increased new hire retention rates as they have a realistic view of what it’s like to work at your company.

Offering a meaningful internship program also shines a positive light and message to the community.  It helps to increase brand awareness among upcoming college grads, which is particularly important for small to mid-sized companies who may not be household names, yet excellent places to work.


How to create an internship program

If you don’t already have an internship program in place or a former one that you can dust off, it can feel overwhelming to get started. There are many resources available to help create or revise an internship program such as these employer internship resources. You may also want to review the 15 best practices for internship programs according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). In general, it is important to provide a meaningful experience where the intern is introduced and welcomed into your company culture,  gains valuable work experience, and helps your organization to meet your goals.

One of the benefits of having experienced a year or more of learning online, today’s college students are highly adept at working remotely. Typical summer internships can now be offered year-round, remote, or hybrid.  As Forbes points out, “A virtual internship today might be pretty good preparation for the remote work of tomorrow.”  In addition, students can continue remote learning and have an internship concurrently, if needed. It can be a win-win for the student and your company.

Offering paid internships will not only make the positions easier to fill, but depending on the school(s) they attend and/or local, state, or federal laws, you may be required to provide compensation. Be sure to understand the law(s) around paid versus unpaid internships in determining compensation.

Bottom line, now is a great time to consider offering an internship program.  There are many benefits for college students and for you, their future employer.

Special thanks to Cindy Eldred, Talent Acquisition Consultant, for contributing to this HR Question of the Week.

Are you wondering whether an internship program could help to meet your talent needs? Would you like to start an internship program but just don’t have the time to do it? Our talent acquisition experts are happy to help! Contact us today.

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What Can I Do to Prevent the “Great Resignation” in My Organization?

HR Question:

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to wane, I’m hearing predictions of a “Great Resignation” as employees begin to feel more confident in switching jobs or employers. What can I do to prevent a “great resignation” in my company?

HR Answer:

As consumer confidence is beginning to increase, employee/job-seeker confidence is also on the rise. Now that the US market is seeing an uptick in sales, revenue, and activity, employees who may have hunkered down in their roles are beginning to peek into the job market again. Some experts are expecting a massive wave of resignations, while others are less than confident. Don’t wait to see if the “Great Resignation” hits your organization before you act. Instead, consider these proactive steps to take now to mitigate the effects and retain your talent.

Stay Interviews / Employee Surveys

The reasons that might have originally attracted employees – for example, the look of the office, the polish or feel of the brand, even the job title – don’t typically contribute to retention. Even the benefits or salary of the role, while enticing, can lose its luster a little bit. Organizations with higher retention rates boast a culture of individual focus – seeing each employee as more than just a number, but rather as a complex person with opinions and value that they bring.

Utilizing stay interviews and employee surveys can be key tools in engaging team members and demonstrating dedication to their wants and needs. Asking questions like “what do you think about our return-to-work plans; what would you do differently; what do you need to be happier in your role” can communicate keen interest to your employees, engaging them beyond the point of “just doing a job.” But the conversation can’t just end there…

Transparent Communication & Employee Collaboration are a Must

Once opinions and input have been gathered, it’s important to do something with the feedback. Clearly communicating the results to team members and management, as well as honest expectations of what can and cannot be done, builds a sense of transparency and trust between leadership and team members. Detailing action that will be taken (as well as reasons why action can’t be taken) will allow employees to understand and buy into the future of the organization – mitigating the effects of a potential “great resignation.”

Managers can play a key role in the retention of employees, as well. After all, it can be said that people leave managers – not companies. By partnering with HR, managers can take steps to reframe their roles as more than simply managing people to hit a goal, through a process, or to a conclusion. When managers operate with the sole objective of managing production or profit, an employee can become a unit rather than a person in the eye of the manager and organization. HR can help managers to shift their mindset and reset goals to include engagement and employee happiness as critical business objectives to be met as well. Approaching these action plans with flexibility and collaboration will be key to keeping employees who may begin to start searching for a new role should their needs no longer be met.

Interview like You’re Dating

It’s possible that not every action you take will keep each employee, or there’s the possibility that the organization may continue to grow and  have new talent needs. Should the market continue to see a shake-up in organizations’ rosters, a strong interviewing approach will attract the right talent.

Just like dating, attracting and retaining strong talent is all about putting your best foot forward and developing strong relationships. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. The most important goal of the first candidate interaction is for the person to feel a spark, to be excited about a second date (or interview), and for them to be thinking “this could be the one.” Keep in mind, while employers may have a long list of qualifications and requirements, candidates care about what’s in it for them, what the employer has to offer, and why this company could be their professional dream come true.

When interviewing potential new talent, treat them like a guest. Why would a candidate want to work for a company that made them feel unimportant or disregarded? In an already tight job market, paired with the speed at which negative news travels, it is imperative to roll out the red carpet for interviewees. What happens during the interview will not stay between the parties involved. Candidates talk, and with social media, thousands of people could be listening. Build the reputation of being a gracious host and companies will find that their reputation will drive additional candidates to their door. It should go without saying that providing a great candidate experience must be followed by a great employee experience in order to retain the folks you worked so hard to hire.

Finally, use communication to differentiate the organization. Give candidates the professional butterflies by communicating interest — send an email prior to the interview saying, “we’re looking forward to meeting you on Friday. Thanks so much for making room in your schedule for us.” It’s a guaranteed way to positively surprise candidates when they’re used to a lack of communication.

Not to say these actions will keep every employee – if someone has decided that the industry isn’t for them, or the environment doesn’t fit their needs, they may still begin their search in order to find a role that is more aligned with their own goals and personal happiness. However, employers have an opportunity to address the day-to-day challenges and goals of their employees to increase job satisfaction, and ultimately, retention to avoid the “Great Resignation.”

Special thanks to Frank Steele, Director of Strategic Talent Acquisition with Clark Schaefer Hackett, for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week. 

Do you need help with surveying your employees? Or could you use some help in recruiting the best talent for your organization? Learn about our Recruitment Services, or better yet, Contact Us to find out how we can help. 

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Why Do My Candidates Keep Dropping Out?

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What Features Should I Consider in a New Applicant Tracking System?

HR Question:

My company is considering purchasing an Applicant Tracking System to help organize and bolster our recruitment process. There are so many options out there in the market! What Applicant Tracking System features should we keep in mind as we go through our search?

HR Answer: 

As we roll into 2021, companies are beginning to see an increase in demand and are eagerly preparing for an uptick in business as the push for “normalcy” continues. With an increase in business comes an increase in the need for talent, which can cause a scramble for candidates if companies are unprepared. However, by implementing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), organizations can be better prepared to tackle their talent needs. The options are endless and easily overwhelming, so it is important to know what key features and functions of an ATS will support your organization’s recruitment goals.

At the beginning of 2020, Strategic HR went through the process of selecting a new Applicant Tracking System and learned several lessons along the way. Through our research and experience, we discovered a myriad of categories to prioritize in our search and have created a go-to list of categories and questions to consider as you navigate your ATS search.


Just as with any large software purchase, it’s key to identify a range for how much you’re willing to spend before you begin your search. This will determine the level of implementation support you can achieve, the number of technical questions or concerns you can submit post-implementation, and the level of customization you have with the system.

Customization / Setup

Once you have established your budget, evaluate the flexibility of the systems within that budget range. Can you adjust and customize the system to work with your organization’s recruitment workflow and hiring needs? Can this customization be done alone or does it require additional involvement and potential cost from the vendor? How easy is it to configure and update the process flow as your recruitment needs and team structure adjust? What is the implementation and set up timeframe? All of these questions will determine not only the time required to set up and implement the program, but also the time that is taken up later by questions, concerns, and changes that inevitably come about when working with a new system.

Recruitment Flow

How customizable is the workflow? How easy is it to see all of the candidate information from their resume to their LinkedIn profile, past job submissions, notes from other recruiters on the team? How easy is it to see and move candidates through the different steps in the recruitment process? Can you send communications, application forms, and schedule interviews through the ATS? How well does the system automate the recruitment process from auto-populating candidate’s information to scheduled automated messaging for candidates throughout the interview process?


Parsing is the process of moving candidates from your job portal or your email into your ATS. How seamless is that process now, and what improvements can the system make to the process as it stands today? Does the system automatically input candidate contact and address information from their resume? Does the ATS recognize and flag duplicate candidates in the system? Does the system automatically parse in candidates who apply through certain job boards? How easy is it to determine if a candidate is submitting a new resume for a job, or one you already have on file? Does the system also parse in any cover letters, references, and certification information for easy review? How well does the ATS track the requisition ID and referral source of a candidate for reporting purposes?

Sourcing / Screening

How fast and accurate are the search capabilities? Can the system search multiple online sources for key skills and easily parse them in as a candidate profile? Can you search, add prospects to your new ATS account, and contact them directly in just one quick submission? Can you create tags for key skills and prospect folders for future recruitment and highlight strong future candidates?

Job Posting / Employer Branding

Your employer brand is one of the most vital (and free!) pieces to a successful recruitment process. It’s important to protect and maintain that brand through any job posting or career portal you use. So, as you begin to explore the system’s career portal capabilities, ask if the career portal allows for employer branding and how customizable it is. How easily can you make changes to the portal and how frequently does the system update? Is the career portal mobile-friendly? How user-friendly is the candidate application process? Does the system easily integrate and push to national job boards? How many job boards does it integrate with?


You most likely already have several different systems set up to support your recruiting efforts. The more integrations a system might have, the easier the transition may be. Does the system communicate with your email provider to track communications? Does the ATS have a texting platform or integrate with one? Does the system have a calendar integration for scheduling interviews? Does the system have a CRM feature and how well does it coordinate with the ATS? Does the ATS have a video interviewing integration? Does the system integrate with any other systems, like payroll, and how customizable are the integrations?

Data Storage

What is the data storage limit on the system? This is important if you have a large amount of data to import into the ATS.

Mobile Application

If 2020 taught us one thing, it was to be ready to take our work anywhere. Does the system have a mobile application? How user-friendly is the mobile application? What features are not available on the mobile application? Does the mobile application work with Android and iOS?


There’s nothing worse than diving into a new system without sufficient guidance. Ask your salesperson if training is offered as part of the implementation process? Is there an extra cost for training? Does the system offer a Help Center, and how useful is the content? Is there ongoing support and how quick is the response time from the support team?

Reporting / Analytics

Assess your reporting needs, and ask the following questions: How robust are the systems’ reporting and analytics capabilities? Can you build your own reports? Can you create recurring scheduled reports? Can you filter reports and how well is the information displayed for review? Can you easily export or share reports? Even if you don’t currently have an in-depth reporting structure, the data you collect today may help you tomorrow.

Financial Investment

Does the platform allow for unlimited users? If not, what is the cost per user in the system? While preparing for unlimited users may be more expensive at first glance, this package may benefit your organization (depending on the number of members on your team and your expansion plans in the next three to five years). How much will it cost to import/migrate your existing candidate data? Is there an additional cost for training and customer support? Is there a contract length requirement? Is there a cost associated with customization to the system or to integrate features such as text capability?


In the end, you will need to choose which applicant tracking system features mean the most to your organization. In Strategic HR’s case, we used each of these key features to review our top ten ATSs and rated each system by these features to narrow our search to the top four. We then went through multiple in-depth demos and trial runs with the sales and integration team for each system, allowing for multiple potential users to ask questions. By utilizing this step-by-step process, we were able to save time on the selection process, involve multiple team members in the search process, and clearly define those items that were top priority in a new ATS (versus wish list items).


Thank you to Lisa Johnson, CIR for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week.

Need help picking out an Applicant Tracking System of your own? Call Strategic HR today at (513) 697-9855 or email us for a free recruiting consultation. Let us tackle your recruiting challenges so you can have time to do what you do best.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR highlighting Health, Safety & Security

How Can I Attract and Retain Employees Despite COVID-19?

HR Question:

While some have traded their typical highway commute for a quick walk down their home hallways, others have returned to on-site facilities on a full-blown scale. Yet, fear of the coronavirus is abundant, and rightfully so. In this new reality, employers are trying to attract new talent, while retaining those who are already a part of the team. So, how can employers attract and retain employees despite COVID-19?

HR Answer:

As more employers return to open their doors, they may face job openings that weren’t there in March – whether employees chose to pursue other options, or a round of furloughs and layoffs become necessary. Either way, recruiting teams are diligently working to successfully fill these open roles. At the same time, employers are trying to address the concerns of some existing employees, many of whom are refusing to return to work or are resigning to stay at home and protect themselves and their families.

It’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic has not subsided, and according to the WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard, cases are growing on a more frequent basis. So how can employers reach the qualified candidates that they need, while assuring active candidates that there are steps in place to protect them?

Develop/Implement a Workplace Safety Plan

First things first: employers must invest the time, budget, and staffing hours necessary to formulate and install proper safety controls. The CDC made available step-by-step actions to assist employers in establishing measures that prevent coronavirus infection and exposure. Measures may include proper ventilation systems, hazard assessments, social distancing, physical barriers between workstations, handwashing stations, staggered shifts, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, personal protective equipment, and more. This plan is the basis for all the other methodologies below.

Job Ads, Recruiting, & Interviews

It’s paramount that employees understand from the get-go that COVID-19 safety measures are in place and that the matter is relevant to the employers they are considering. As a result, employers are now incorporating COVID-19 safety language into their job ads, such as these sample job ads from ONGIG. The recruiting process may include flexible arrangements for the interview process, as well. Organizations may choose to host virtual interviews via platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting to forego social distancing concerns altogether.


A robust onboarding process enables employers to jumpstart employee engagement and may eliminate questions later on. Incorporating COVID-19 safety education and awareness programs into your Onboarding Checklist may curb coronavirus fears. And for those who are not fearful, the learning experience may provide at least a new level of caution and an understanding of expectations to protect their co-workers. Connecting your team to credible online sources is another option that can be accomplished during onboarding.

Health and Mental Health Resources

Depression, loneliness, lack of engagement, and decreased communication are just a few of the impacts employees have suffered as a result of remote work and the overall pandemic environment. Strategic HR developed a list of resources to assist our clients in addressing these issues, not to mention the tremendous host of information available via reliable online entities such as the CDC’s “Mental Health” page and the “Global Healthy Living Foundation.” We encourage employers to provide ongoing communication about these opportunities and tools. For existing employees, this may mean weekly “did you know” type flyers or infographics. Another avenue may be enhanced education on the benefits and services available through the employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or the medical health insurance plan. By showing employees that the company understands their COVID-19 fears and cares about their well-being, employees are more likely to connect to the employer’s commitment to safety.

Community Support and Involvement

Not only are all eyes open to how employers are addressing COVID-19 safety in the workplace, but also on the employer’s actions (or lack thereof) in the communities where they reside. Employers can further grow their “employer of choice” brand by sponsoring or presenting COVID-19 safety webinars, having leaders serve on panels related to what employers are doing during the pandemic, or writing or contributing to articles. Another example is providing branded masks for employees. This is a simple effort that protects your team and provides brand acknowledgment.


Developing these and other strategies for addressing COVID-19 fears can go a long way to attract and retain top talent. Leadership, HR, Marketing, and Public Relations all play key roles in creating a winning plan – not just for the immediate future, but further down the line as companies face the next wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Take steps now to evaluate where your organization stands, research new information and resources, then go the extra mile to protect and educate your team members. The return on investment most likely will be felt both internally and externally as you attract and retain employees – despite COVID-19.


Thanks to Angela Dunaway, SPRH, SHRM-CP, for writing this edition of our HR Question of the Week!

During these uncertain times, be sure to check out our COVID-19 Employer Resources for webinars, resource guides, our Return to Work Guide, and more to help you navigate your business through the challenges you are facing.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

How to Conduct Safe Interviews Amid COVID-19

HR Question:

If I am an essential business that needs to continue hiring new staff during this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, how do I conduct safe and effective interviews?

HR Answer:

Now that the Stay-at-Home order has officially gone into effect across the region, virtual interactions are being added as necessary steps in lieu of and prior to inviting a candidate to an in-person job interview.  At this time, it is important to limit the need for a candidate to be on-site for an in-person interview.  Below are recommendations on conducting virtual interviews and best practices to follow when it is necessary to have the candidate on-site.

Conducting Virtual Interviews During COVID-19

1. Phone Interviews

If it is not already normal practice for you to conduct phone interviews as an initial step to qualify candidates prior to bringing them in for an interview, now is the time to start!  The phone interview can be used to qualify candidates for a high-level fit for experience, pay expectations, availability for specific work schedules, and location.

2. Virtual Video Interviews

If you do not have the capacity to conduct a high volume of phone interviews, an effective and efficient option can be to conduct virtual (one-way) video interviews.  Virtual interview platforms allow you to screen candidates 24/7.  As an added bonus, candidates can complete the interviews at their convenience.  You simply choose the questions you want candidates to address, send out an interview invitation, and watch candidates’ recorded responses. For example, we use Outmatch, an on-demand and live video provider.

3. Live Video Interviews

After qualifying a candidate through either a phone or virtual on-demand interview, the next step could be to coordinate a live video interview.  There are several video conference platforms available, including Outmatch that we mentioned above. However, you can also consider using video platforms that may already be in use by your organization such as Skype, Amazon Chime, Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc.  This is a great way to include decision-makers in your organization who are working remotely and still allows you to engage with the candidate at a high level. Choose the platform that works best for you, keeping in mind that there are differences, including some that record the interview and can work seamlessly with your ATS.

Preparing for Live Video Interviews

Preparing Interviewers:

Although there are some differences in the steps to preparing for video interviews, good basic interviewing prep still applies. For example, all interviewers should still review the job description and candidate resume, have prepared interview questions, and follow a shared agenda for the interview. What’s different is the need to make sure that all interviewers have access to your video platform. They should also conduct the interview in a quiet, well-lit room where they can be seen and heard easily. We recommend testing this prior to the interview to ensure their cameras and microphones function well.

Preparing Candidates:

Prior to the interview, you should communicate with candidates to let them know you will be conducting a video interview and explain how they will access the video platform. You should ensure that they have access to a device that is compatible with your platform, and ideally, provide them an opportunity to test it out before the interview. Offer the same suggestions that you shared with your interviewers to find a quiet, well-lit room for the video and test their camera and microphone. Also, set the stage for what to expect in the interview, including start time, expected length, and provide a list of the interviewers and job titles. Be sure to allow candidates to ask questions in advance of the interview to alleviate any concerns that they have as this may be new to them.   

Conducting Safe On-site Interviews Amid COVID-19

When you have virtually vetted candidates as much as possible down to only those that are highly qualified, we recognize that it still may be necessary to invite candidates to an on-site interview.

Below are best, safe practices to ensure the safety of the candidate and interviewer(s) involved:

Set Clear Expectations

Be sure to clearly set expectations and provide specific day-of-interview instructions for candidates (and interviewers) before the on-site interview. These instructions should include:

  • Where to park. Have spaces identified specifically for visitors to use.
  • Where to enter the building. If possible, identify a specific entrance to be used only for visitors.
  • Instructions on who to call and reschedule if they are not feeling well. Refer to CDC’s list of symptoms of the coronavirus.

Maintain Social Distancing

Adhere to all social distancing guidelines as outlined by the CDC and your corresponding state and local government. Some suggestions include:

  • Avoid close contact. Ensure that you have an interview space where you can maintain at least 6 feet of separation between each person involved.
  • Wash your hands properly, and have hand sanitizer available. Although this likely breaks with your normal protocol, do not shake hands. Explain that in order to maintain social distancing, everyone will avoid shaking hands. To lighten the mood, consider coming up with a fun alternative (“air high-5”, “air fist pump”, etc.)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones, keyboards, etc.

Health Screen Prior to Interview

On the day of the interview, yet well in advance of its intended start time and expected arrival of the participants, call all participants (candidates and interviewers) to screen for potentially contaminated individuals by asking these questions:

  • Have you recently traveled to an area with known local spread of Covid-19?
  • Have you come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who has a laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days?
  • Are you experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms identified by the CDC?
  • If they answer affirmatively to any of the above, then the interview should be postponed.

Health Screen On-site

Put in place a process to check the temperature of candidates and interviewers when they arrive.

  • Postpone the interview immediately if the candidate’s temperature is 100 degrees or higher.
  • If you only have a single interviewer and they have a fever, you will need to postpone the interview. If you have multiple interviewers, and one registers a fever, determine whether the interview can proceed without them.

Postpone When Sick

Hopefully, it goes without saying that you will need to postpone the interview if the candidate or any essential interviewers are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Given the severity of this pandemic, this is not a moment to take any unnecessary risks.

We recognize that it is very challenging to conduct efficient and effective interviews for those in-demand essential positions that are needed to continue during this crisis.  Hopefully, these tips and best practices will help you to still successfully identify and hire the best candidates to meet your hiring needs.


If you need assistance in implementing any of these safe interviewing strategies, or if you need help finding qualified individuals that fit your culture and have the skills that you need, Contact Us

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

What Is an RPO?

HR Question:

I keep hearing about RPOs… but I don’t have a clue what they are! What are they, and should I be looking into one?

HR Answer:

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of the business acronyms, new or old, so it’s not shocking that you may not have heard of an RPO – particularly if you’re outside of the HR space. An RPO – or Recruitment Process Outsourcing – can be beneficial to all kinds of companies, particularly if you’re working with limited staff dedicated to human resources.

What is an RPO?

First, the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association defines RPOs as something akin to a business process outsourcing, where “an employer transfers all or parts of its recruitment processes to an external service provider.”  While that might sound intimidating, think of it this way – an RPO takes care of clearing your desk of resumes, pending background checks, job descriptions desperate for review, and all of the other paperwork that goes along with hiring new employees.

An RPO will require an element of transparency that you may not be used to, but don’t worry, it’s in the name of better service. An RPO will want to understand how you typically approach your recruitment process, the reason why you’ve done it this way in the past, and previous candidates that you’ve worked with or considered. This will keep the RPO team from spinning wheels already spun while making sure to move your process forward.

Benefits of an RPO

Not only does an RPO take care of the more tedious and time-consuming aspects of adding to your team, but they can also tackle some of the softer approaches that recruiting calls for in today’s market. With the additional time and attention RPO teams are able to afford candidates, they can create the “human touch” that is so often called for in a recruitment process. Don’t believe us? Check out Monster’s article on candidate experience and why it matters.

RPOs can also save you some cold hard cash. When you consider the average placement rate of many staffing firms – which ranges from 20-40% – versus the hourly rate of many RPOs, you can save thousands of dollars. For example, take your new HR Manager position. You plan to pay this person $60K a year. If you were to work through a staffing firm, that new hire could cost you $15,000, not to mention the time and energy put in by your team to hire and onboard this individual. Should you work with an RPO (with an hourly rate of $110) using an average of 55 hours to fill a position, you’re only spending $6,050 – a cost-savings of almost $9,000. Imagine taking those numbers to your CFO – you’ll be the new Finance Hero!

Is an RPO right for you?

Even if an RPO is a great process for some businesses, it’s not meant for all. Ideally, small to medium-sized businesses benefit the most from this addition, as these are the businesses that typically run on a lean or limited team. If you don’t have the resources or your plate is too full, reaching out to an outsourced resource can keep your timeline moving with a limited time commitment on your part.

If you don’t need help month-in, month-out or your needs ebb and flow more than you can plan for, an RPO may be a good fit. Ideally, their consultative approach should be able to be turned on or off when your needs call for them.

Or finally, you may need an expert or strategic partner. You and your team might recognize the limits of your understanding or knowledge in recruiting, and you’re doing your best to avoid compliance issues in your department. This would be a key opportunity to bring in a team with talent acquisition expertise.

What to look for in an RPO

While there are many RPOs out there, not all are the same. When trying to assess which RPO is right for you, consider the following items:


If you’re handing off your recruitment process with an increased level of transparency, you want to make sure you can trust the team with which you are partnering. Take a look at the level of expertise the company boasts. What is their approach to talent acquisition? Are they thought-leaders in their industry? Are they sharing and producing relative and pressing content? Are they able to speak to providing a positive candidate experience, data analytics, and cost-savings?

Examples & Testimonials

Have others in your industry used this RPO, or others similar? Is this company able to speak to the experience that both candidates and clients have had during their time using their services? Does this company have experience in your industry and understand the nuances that might come with your jobs? If so, explore further.

          Clear Communication

Can this company clearly outline their costs and how they’ll save you money? Can they provide an accurate prediction of potential costs you may encounter along the way? Are they as timely with you as they are with candidates? This may be another good reason to dig into your network and testimonials to see what others say.

Think an RPO might be a fit for you? Call Strategic HR today at (513) 697-9855 or email us for a free recruiting consultation. Let us tackle your recruiting challenges so you can have time to do what you do best.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Interview Questions to Avoid


Are there any questions we should avoid when interviewing job candidates?


Yes. You should avoid questions that cause an applicant to tell you about their inclusion in a protected class. Don’t ask about race, national origin, citizenship status, religious affiliation, disabilities, pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity, past illnesses (including use of sick leave or workers’ comp claims), age, genetic information, or military service. You should also avoid asking about things that might be protected by state law (e.g., marital status and political affiliation). If you were to ask any questions pertaining to these matters, rejected candidates could claim that your decision was based on their inclusion in these classes rather than their credentials.

The types of questions you ask a job candidate should be job-related and nondiscriminatory. This may seem obvious, but employers sometimes ask problematic questions because they believe they are job-related. For instance, an interviewer might ask an applicant if they have any back issues when they are trying to determine if the applicant can lift 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day. Or when seeking someone to fill a position on Sundays, they might ask if the applicant is Christian or goes to church. Both of these questions are plainly discriminatory and could get an employer into significant trouble.

Thankfully, there’s a way to get this information without asking discriminatory questions. Instead of considering the things that could get in the way of an applicant doing the job and asking about those, frame the question so that it’s about the essential duties of the position. Can they lift 25 pounds all day every day? Are they available on Sunday, since that’s the day you are hiring for? Simple adjustments and precautions can go a long way toward a compliant interview process.

On a final note, you should also avoid questions that are asked purely out of curiosity (Do you have children? What kind of accent is that? What do you do for fun?), as those can easily be misconstrued as discriminatory. When in doubt, return to the job description. Make sure your questions are directly related to the essential duties and answer the ultimate question—can the applicant do the job?

Thank you to the HR Pros on our HR Support Center for this question of the week.

Strategic HR provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Hiring Practices in a Candidate Driven Market


What best hiring practices should I have in place for a “Candidate Driven” market?


Since the Great Recession in 2008 and especially over the last several years, the economy has moved from recovery mode to consistently maintaining strong growth.  The latest news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the national monthly unemployment rates have been remaining steady at 3.7%, while at the same time, job numbers continue to stay positive.  Many financial experts see that trend continuing for the foreseeable future.

So, what does that mean?  First, it means that all job seekers have more opportunities and professional options to choose from.  More importantly though, it means that the top tier candidates have the most leverage for the best opportunities.  Secondly, it means that you can no longer use the same old hiring practices that you’ve used in the past when there were more candidates than there were jobs.

The easiest solution to this problem would be to simply raise wages and increase benefits to attract the top tier talent, or have employee sign on bonuses or other incentives.  For most companies though, that simply is not an option.  So, what can employers do to improve their ability to compete in these tough, competitive markets that are cost effective and simple to implement? 

Below are some best hiring practices and strategies for hiring top tier talent in a Candidate Driven market:

  1. Write clear and concise job ads that promote both the position and the organization. Include information and links to the company website and other social media outlets that put on display your “employment brand”.  This is usually the first impression a candidate sees when introduced to your organization, so make it a great one.
  2. Focus on candidate experience! In this market, the difficulty of the hiring process can have the most detrimental impact on a company’s ability to hire top tier candidates.  There are several simple and easy steps to create a strong candidate experience:
    • Utilize readily available technology to find alternate ways to reach out to candidates. In today’s world, people are always on their phones.  As a result, utilizing text messaging to reach out to candidates is an effective way to communicate with candidates.  This is especially true if a company has a lot of high-volume recruiting.  Texting is a great way to reach a lot of candidates quickly and effectively.  It boosts candidate engagement and may cut down on time spent playing phone tag.
    • A recent study completed by Glassdoor found that 58% of job seekers search for new opportunities on their mobile devices, and 35% prefer to apply to positions on those devices. Be sure to offer options on your postings for candidates to easily provide links to their LinkedIn profiles or other social media.
    • Simplify the ability of the candidate to post/apply to positions. Remove any unnecessary steps that make the application process lengthy or complex, which may turn off the candidates from even applying in the first place.  Wait until after initial conversations with a candidate before making them complete lengthy applications or assessments.  This allows for an opportunity to “sell” the position and the employment brand of the company, and to get the candidate interested to keep moving forward through those tasks.
    • Implement internal best hiring practices or set expectations to ensure that new candidates are contacted within the first 24 hours after applying to a job. This can be a simple email that thanks them for their interest and includes an explanation of what the next steps in the process will be.  In today’s environment, with the use of technology to apply for positions, candidates can easily feel that they are sending their resume into a black hole, never to be seen again.  If the candidate doesn’t meet the qualifications, send an email letting the candidate know. The candidate will appreciate the follow up which will also help protect the employment brand of the company.
    • Simplify the interview process as much as possible. Avoid having candidates come on-site multiple times for interviews.  Top tier candidates are usually currently employed, which makes it very difficult for them to take time off to interview.  Try to schedule as much as possible in one trip.  The more that the interview process is dragged on and delayed, the more likely the candidate will get frustrated and find another opportunity.  A lot of time and money is spent in the recruiting process, even up to the point of scheduling interviews and it is always costly to restart that process.  If you have a good candidate, make sure that you maintain a high level of engagement and keep them interested throughout the process.
  3. An increasingly popular trend is to offer candidates an option to spend part of a day job shadowing with current staff in the role. Depending on the role and ability for a company to do so, this may be a great opportunity for the candidate to spend time with the team and to get a sense of the culture of the organization.  Of course, you need to have a strong team and organizational culture to make that effective.
  4. Be proactive in your searches. Don’t wait for the candidate to come to you.  Research organizations, social media outlets, or other networking options that are relevant to the position or company.  Routinely connect with your network, share news, and let them know that you are hiring.
  5. Sell the position to the candidate! As previously mentioned, if you are competing for the same candidates as other competing organizations, be ready to sell to the candidate on why your company will be their best choice.  This is not just a discussion of pay and benefits, but more about the culture, mission of the company, and potential career growth.  This is especially important when interviewing Millennials.  A 2016 Gallup report, found that a full 87% of Millennials say that professional development and career growth opportunities are what is most important to them.  So, if your organization does a great job of providing career paths and development opportunities, be proud of that, put that message first and foremost ahead of pay and benefits.
  6. If your organization is utilizing a recruiting agency or firm to supplement recruiting efforts for those tough to fill positions, it is imperative to provide feedback and stay engaged in their recruiting efforts. If the agency does provide a qualified candidate, be sure to act quickly and move the candidate through the process.  These are often currently employed, passive, candidates that have been sourced by the agency.  They require being sold on the company and may take more effort to make them want to leave their current jobs.

Hopefully these tips and best hiring practices have sparked easy and simple ideas for you to strengthen your ability to compete for top tier candidates in a very competitive market without having to spend a lot of money.  In fact, many of these are great hiring practices to implement in any market!

Are you struggling to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help client’s source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Importance of the Careers Page and What Should Be Included


What should we include on our company Careers page to make sure we’re keeping up with the times?


You’re wise to have the quality of your company Careers page on your radar. This is a critical recruitment marketing tool to capture the attention of potential candidates. The content, look, and feel of your page must capture their attention fast in order to keep job seekers engaged and interested in applying. Otherwise, you lose them before they even apply. You’ll want to make sure that you seize the opportunity to showcase who you are, what you have to offer, and why job seekers would want to work at your organization.

Your Careers page should be designed to intrigue candidates to want to learn more; actively engage them with your content; and compel them to apply. There are many components that you can consider to optimize your Careers page, so here are some suggestions to get you started.

Nine Tips to Optimize Your Careers Page:

  1. Employer Branding: Your employer brand encompasses your mission, values, benefits/perks, and overall company culture. It can be viewed as your company’s reputation as an employer, which is a critical piece that job seekers want to understand. Although this is different than your company brand, your employer branding should be aligned with your company brand. We’ll touch upon some components of employer branding below, but to dive in further, check out this LinkedIn article, “What Is Employer Branding and How Can It Grow Your Business? 
  1. Mission and Values: By incorporating your company’s mission and values on your Careers page, candidates can connect to your company’s purpose. It helps them to understand what’s important to your organization. A great way to showcase this can be through testimonials from your employees sharing how your values come to life in your workplace. This presents a good opportunity to ensure that you are indeed living the values that you profess for your company. 
  1. Benefits / Perks: It should be no surprise that job seekers want to know about the benefits and perks that you offer. This is a prime opportunity to market what you offer to your employees and tout why it’s great to work at your company. Check out Strategic HR’s Top 10 Employee Benefits of 2019.
  1. Company Culture: Your company culture is what makes your organization uniquely YOU. Candidates want to have a realistic picture of what it’s like to work at your company so they can assess if it feels like a good fit for them. A powerful way to communicate your culture can be through videos. Don’t worry- this doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking. Lighthouse research & advisory found “55% of active job seekers said employee-generated video would be more credible/trustworthy than company-produced video.” 
  1. Effective Application: If you capture the job seeker’s interest to the point where they’re ready to apply, make sure you don’t lose them in the application process! Many applications are too long, and with the number of current job openings far exceeding the available talent to fill them, job seekers can pick and choose where they want to apply. A 2018 survey conducted by SilkRoad and CareerBuilder found that “one-in-five employees gives less than 10 minutes to a job application, or two to three pages on a mobile device, before dropping off.” Make sure your application only asks for the information that you absolutely need at that stage in your selection process. It should be quick and easy to complete. 
  1. Mobile Friendly: Many candidates (particularly millennials) conduct their job search on-the-go using their mobile phones, so be sure that your Careers page is mobile friendly. To the point made above, you’ll also want to ensure that your job application is mobile optimized as well. If you’re not sure, try it out for yourself! 
  1. Job Alerts: Don’t count on job seekers to go back to your Careers page on their own if they don’t see a job opening that interests them when they first visit your page. Your Careers page should offer the opportunity for job seekers to sign up to receive job alerts for the type(s) of position(s) they want to pursue. This push notification can help to re-engage that candidate when an appropriate job becomes available. 
  1. Apply Without Job Opening: Don’t let a potential candidate slip through your fingers simply because you don’t have the right job opening for them today. Seize the opportunity to engage that candidate in a future job opportunity by allowing them to apply for a future fit position. If you do this, be sure that you source your ATS when new positions become available to ensure that you re-engage these candidates who have expressed an interest in your company. 
  1. Explain Your Hiring Process: Job seekers want to understand your hiring process. They want to know the expected steps it takes to get hired, and they want to know what they can expect from you in this process. Providing an explanation of your hiring process either through text or video can help to manage candidates’ expectations and answer some of their questions on the frontend.

After you’ve completed the suggestions above, Harver’s blog offers even more tips to optimize your company Careers page. For inspiration and examples of well designed company Careers pages, check out SmartRecruiters’ Top 10 company career pages.

Hopefully, these tips have sparked ideas for how you can strengthen your company Careers page and set your recruitment marketing efforts on a path for continued success.

Do you need help creating or updating your Careers page? Contact us right away.  Otherwise, if  you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help client’s source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.




Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Emphasizing Empathy for a Successful Candidate Experience


We’re in the process of improving our candidate experience, and we just don’t know where to start. What should we consider as we re-vamp this process?


In an industry that contains a high percentage of rejection, talent acquisition can often times become somewhat demoralizing, both for the job seeker and the recruiter. One of the rising focuses within the recruitment industry is prioritizing the candidate experience. Companies are beginning to assess how they communicate with potential employees and the impressions they leave behind with those that aren’t a fit. As employers break down the components that make a strong candidate experience, there’s one key that comes out on top: empathy.

Before we dive further into how empathy fits into the recruiting machine, what is candidate experience? As Melinda Canino wrote in her article “Candidate Experience: How Small Tweaks Can Make a Huge Impact”, she describes candidate experience as “the collective whole of a job seeker’s interactions with and perception of a company during the recruitment and hiring process”. This means that there is so much more than just the voice behind the phone – candidate experience covers everything from the job ad to the application process to the final communication as you wrap up the requisition.

So how does empathy find its way into the process? When recruiters have that ability to understand and share in the feelings of their potential candidates, it allows them to craft their messages and actions towards them, including them in the process rather than leaving them out on an island.  As Greg Savage details in his article “You Are Not In ‘Recruitment’. You Are In ‘Rejection’.”: “we are in the rejection business. And classy rejection is a skill worth refining.”

Whether or not you agree with the classification of being in the “rejection business”, everything is better with a little bit of empathy. Empathy can be demonstrated in several different ways throughout the recruiting process:

  • Let candidates know when you’ve received an application: many candidates are sending their resumes into unresponsive black holes. Even an automated message alerting them to the receipt of their resume is enough to recognize the hard work they’ve already put in.
  • Don’t leave them out in the cold: If the process is taking a while, let your candidates know where you are in the process. It doesn’t have to be incredibly specific (i.e. “the hiring manager is reviewing your resume, but you’re sixth in line to interview”), but enough to let them know that the process is ongoing. Keep your candidates warm, and recognize the agony that the wait can produce.
  • Communicate early, often, and clearly: In a candidate’s market, talent acquisition professionals no longer have the luxury of working on their own timeline. Sometimes candidates have multiple potential positions in the works, and many are juggling different combinations of benefits, salary and PTO to find their best fit. By connecting with them early, and creating an empathetic connection, they may be more willing to continue down the path that you’re trying to lay.
  • Train your memory: Don’t you love it when someone remembers a small, but personal detail? If you’re balancing several requisitions at one time, or if you’ve had an overwhelming response to a posting, it would be near impossible to remember every candidate’s name and each line of their resume. However, taking notes and remembering personal details will help candidates feel significant, cared for, and give the impression that they matter to your organization (because they do!). Make sure you’re taking note of questions or concerns during your conversations, and file them away in connection with each candidate. You don’t have to remember their childhood pet’s name, but it will benefit you in the future if you remember their prowess in a difficult-to-master skill set.

Not every candidate will receive the position they’re vying for, and many of them will be disappointed. In order to keep candidates interested and engaged with your company, even after they’ve received the rejection notice, consider emphasizing empathy within each step of your recruitment process.

Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent Acquisition Consultants utilize a variety of resources to help client’s source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.


Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Creating a Strategy for High Volume Recruitment


Our organization is about to go through some very high volume staffing this year. What measures should we put in place to ensure that we will successfully meet our hiring goals?


In this candidate-driven market, it is a must that you have a robust plan or strategy in place to accomplish your hiring goals and to measure the success of your efforts.

Below are a few strategies to consider as you develop your next moves. By incorporating these tactics, it will ensure greater opportunity of success in your hiring goals:

  1. Employment Brand: Your brand is a critical component to igniting candidates’ interest in your organization. Creating an exciting image of how great it is to work at your organization can make you stand out among competitive companies hiring the same talent. The great thing about your brand is that you have complete control of it – this is your chance to create a narrative that best represents what it’s like to work with you and your team. Ideas for developing your brand include:
    • Developing an easy-to-use link to the “Careers” page on your company website. Make it easy to find! Don’t hide the link in the bottom corner of the home page. And, include testimonials and videos if possible.
    • Create jobs posts that reflect your company culture, such as including your values or perks of working for your company.
    • Use social media – build out social media networks and create social media accounts for your company on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You also should be prepared to respond to on-line reviews, such as Google reviews, about your company to help manage your company’s reputation.
  2. Employee Referral program: Statistically, the best resource for candidates is from your existing employees. If you do not already have an Employee Referral program, or if it has not been very effective, take the time to set up or review your plan for opportunities to strengthen it for maximum results. Think about what would motivate your employees to recommend others to work at your organization? Money? How much money? Time off?
  3. College recruiting: Do you have a position that could benefit from hiring new college graduates? If so, get in touch with your local colleges and universities now. Don’t wait until it’s the end of the school year, as many institutions will have job fairs year-round. It is in the best interest of those schools to help find avenues for their students to find great jobs. Take advantage of those relationships and get in ahead of your competition!
  4. Niche job boards: Online resources are constantly evolving. Ensure that you are aware of all available job boards and posting opportunities that are relevant to your open positions.
  5. Training opportunities: If you are having trouble finding candidates that can come into your organization and hit the ground running, look for opportunities to recruit candidates that could be trained to be long-term and successful contributors.
  6. Partner with a staffing firm: Having a strong and effective staffing partner to subsidize your recruiting efforts will allow you to stay focused on other areas of your organization that require a high level of priority.

Now that you have your strategies in place, and you’re ready to start hiring, how will you measure success? Metrics are always an important tool for HR to determine the effectiveness of a company’s recruiting efforts. The right kind of metrics are crucial when it comes to high-volume recruiting. Below are some metrics to consider:

  1. Qualified candidates per hire: This metric measures the number of candidates hired compared to those who made it past the first stage of the screening. It will quantify the effectiveness of your selection process in determining the most qualified candidates to move forward in your hiring process. If you have a large number of qualified candidates who are falling out of your recruiting process, this will present the opportunity to review your screening criteria to be sure it is in line with the needs of the position.
  2. Source of hire: Tracking the source of your hires is critical. You want to know which sourcing method is generating the most return on your investment in both dollars and time. If you are using a source that only generates a few hires, you will want to evaluate if you are applying your budget most effectively.
  3. Recruiting life cycle: The recruiting life cycle starts at the beginning stage of posting for the position and continues to the day that the candidate is scheduled to start. It includes screening resumes, phone screening, interviewing, making the offer, and completing any background checks. Knowing how long that process takes will let you know when you need to start executing your recruiting plans.
  4. Interview to hire ratio: This measure is critical to comprehend. If you know how many interviews it will take to make a single hire, it will help determine the most effective amount of recruiter resources needed to meet your hiring needs in a given amount of time. A good tip would be to make it a practice to have a post-interview summary with the hiring manager(s) to better understand why or why not a candidate may have been selected for hire. Make sure the candidate profile you are searching for is in line with what the organizational needs.
  5. Offer acceptance rate: It is important to understand why every offer is declined and to track the responses. Knowing this information:
    • will allow you to address it early in the candidate life cycle, and it will help candidates self-eliminate themselves before investing more time in them.
    • will help determine if adjustments to the candidate profile need to be made.
    • will help determine if any organizational adjustments can be made to open up the opportunity for a wider candidate profile (e.g. work life balance concerns, pay, relocation).

Ultimately, high-volume sourcing requires high-performing strategies that rely on data-driven practices and not just HR best practices. Understanding the data will allow HR to engage in discussions with senior leadership from a level of authority which will help justify personnel and budget allocations needed for success.

Strategic HR provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.


Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

What is a Certificate of Qualification for Employment?


In this tight labor market, it is always an occasion to celebrate finding a candidate who makes a great fit. This week a hiring manager was excited about a candidate but learned during an interview that the candidate has had a Felony for theft.  The candidate mentioned having an Ohio Certificate of Qualification for Employment that they could provide. Although we are not a bank and the role does not handle money, we need to assure our customers will not be put in any jeopardy and our organization will not be put at risk by making a careless hire. Alternately, we do not want to be discriminatory or lose an otherwise qualified individual that could make a great fit for the role.  So what is a Certificate of Qualification and does it make any difference?


Ohio law provides for a certificate to be available that removes criminal-record-based barriers to employment, without erasing or hiding the criminal record itself. The “Certificate of Qualification for Employment” (CQE) will allow persons who have a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction to apply to the court to lift the collateral sanction that bars them from being considered for employment in a particular field. A CQE is only given if an individual has been through an extensive application and investigation process and deemed, by both the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) and the Court, to be rehabilitated. A Certificate of Qualification for Employment may be revoked if the offender is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony offense committed subsequent to the issuance of the certificate.

A CQE can benefit an employer by removing mandatory rules that prohibit licensure or employment of individuals with certain criminal records. The Certificate may be used for general employment opportunities as well. If an employer knowingly hires a CQE holder, the Certificate offers the employer a legal protection from a potential negligent-hiring lawsuit. (However, if the employer fails to take action if dangerous or criminal behavior is exhibited after hiring and retains the employee after such behavior, the employer can then be held liable.)

To learn more about the certificate and to find the link where you can assure authenticity of a CQE, go to . You can also contact The Ohio Justice and Policy Center or directly review Ohio Revised Code 2953.25.

There are many states and cities with laws making it illegal to exclude an otherwise qualified applicant who has had a misdemeanor or felony. At least 12 states have already passed legislation, “banning the box”, that prevents employers from inquiring about a criminal background at initial application. Federal EEO laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibit employers from discrimination by using criminal history information in their employment decisions because they can significantly disadvantage protected individuals such as African Americans and Hispanics. The EEOC also has some written guidance you may refer to:

This candidate’s Certificate of Qualification for Employment could prove to be a win-win.  An applicant who has the qualifications you need and is looking for that long deserved break may prove to be one of your most grateful and loyal employees if given the opportunity.  Remember whether hiring or declining, before making a potentially costly decision it is important to educate yourself on related federal, state and local laws and/or seek legal counsel.

Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, Strategic HR can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.

Can Glassdoor Reviews Impact Your Company and Your Recruiting Efforts?


How do Glassdoor reviews impact our company and our recruiting efforts?


Glassdoor is the answer to the un-asked Million-Dollar Question: “What do people, especially my employees, really think of my company?” In the business world today, we rely on word of mouth, feedback from others, and social media to gain followers, clients, and employees (especially millennials). We use reviews on Google, Facebook and other sites to gauge what the outside world is thinking of us, but Glassdoor provides a look into what current and previous employees think.

Why Do Job Seekers Use Glassdoor?

Reviews drive our decisions as we make purchases, select service providers (contractors, plumbers, etc.), choose restaurants, and more! It’s no surprise that job seekers want to gain insight into a company before choosing to apply.

For job seekers, Glassdoor has been a “go-to site” for researching potential companies to gain a better understanding of the culture, the realities of the work environment, and to envision if they can see themselves as a part of the company.

According to, job seekers use Glassdoor in the several ways, including the following: 

  • To find the top companies in a given industry and to learn what people say about them
  • To get an inside look with minimal risk if they’re unsure about a company in the job search process
  • Finally, to check out a company’s page before “saying yes” to the job offer

Managing Your Company’s Glassdoor Account

It’s incredibly important to know what is being said about your company online. In terms of best practices, you should have someone dedicated to checking Glassdoor reviews to see what people are saying and to responding to all reviews – both positive and negative.

Positive reviews about your company can go a long way in giving the job seeker validation that you provide a great place to work! Sometimes positive reviews can be the tipping point for job seekers to compel them to apply for your job openings or to accept your job offers.

Conversely, negative Glassdoor reviews can “hurt” you in the same way bad reviews on products and services impact buyers’ decisions on resources like Amazon, Yelp, or Google. There is a way to carefully navigate negative reviews – it’s all in the way you respond. It’s important that you acknowledge negative comments and provide a thoughtful response. By doing this, it shows that you value the feedback that has been given and you want to take steps to make it better.

Although negative reviews are hard to hear, consider a few things. Is it true? Are there ways this situation could have been perceived by one party versus another? Or, better yet, how can you make it into a positive? “How?”, you say? Consider where these reviews are coming from. The reviews come from current and former employees who see the good, bad, and ugly. Many times, negative reviews can provide an opportunity for change and growth within your company. If you’re planning on asking for reviews from your current employees, be prepared to deal with all reviews in a constructive and culture-focused manner. Although the removal of comments is rare, you can petition Glassdoor to remove a review if it is unfounded.

Glassdoor reviews affect not only potential new employees, but also can affect customers/clients too. While one or two reviews, when handled professionally, will not make or break you, the reviews can have a lingering effect on your organization. With positive online reviews, you may see a slight increase in candidate applications or client calls, while bad reviews might slightly depress the number of responses you see.

Online reviews can be difficult. Many times, candidates have already formed their opinion about your company and the interview just validates their opinion. If there are negative reviews out there, providing your candidates with an exceptional positive experience will help to overcome any negative comments about your company.

Leveraging Glassdoor as a Valuable Recruiting Resource

In the end, make sure you’re timely when responding to Glassdoor reviews. Utilize this resource to attract talented individuals who are looking for that cultural fit. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. If you come up against a bad Glassdoor review, respond professionally, spin it into a positive review, and make sure you learn from it!

If you don’t have reviews, consider developing a campaign to encourage employees to share their experiences on Glassdoor. This may feel daunting, but what you can learn (both positive and opportunity for improvement) will give you valuable insight to strengthen your company culture and recruiting efforts.


Strategic HR provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.


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What Are Some Tips To Prevent Candidates From Ghosting?


Potential employees are continuing to disappear while we’re in the middle of our recruiting process – what can I do about this ghosting phenomenon?


Great question, and one that doesn’t have just one answer. For the various reasons that potential employee’s are ghosting, many of them may point to the image that you’re portraying as an employer online. In a world where we are inundated with different messages and forms of communication, what can you be doing to help yourself stand out from the crowd of employers on Indeed or ZipRecruiter? Try following a few of the steps below.

  1. Make Social Media Your Friend: Perhaps you are one of the employers who isn’t sure social media is for them. Maybe your industry or services don’t lend well to social media, or you’re just not comfortable dedicating what could be 40 hours a week to your followers on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram. However, consider this: 18.2% of referral makers ages 25-34 won’t refer a provider (or in this case, an employer) if they are not on social media. If you’re in the process of trying to catch the next wave of employees, consumers, or influences, you’re going to be caught in the surf without some form of active social media presence.
  2. Create an Encouraging Culture of Communication: By remaining in consistent communication with your candidates, you can begin to build relationships that create a sense of responsibility in the candidate to reach out if they’ve changed their mind. But this responsibility goes both ways. When surveyed by CareerArc, over nearly 60% of candidates reported a poor experience with an employer or recruiter. Imagine the impact on that 60% if those responsible for the direct recruiting remained in contact with their candidates, keeping them updated on where they stood in the process. In the same study, 72% percent of those respondents said they shared their negative experience online or with someone directly. By cultivating a culture of communication between the employer and the potential employee, you can present an attractive image to candidates – one candidates want to be involved with.
  3. Don’t Hide: Similar to the fact that you should be active and involved in the public eye of social media, you should be actively approaching negative comments that may come out from behind a far-away keyboard. In a world that revolves around constant and instant communication, bad news can travel fast, and negative reviews can have a quick impact. In fact, USA Today recently reviewed a case where won a lawsuit against a local law firm that had received a negative and harsh review by a Yelp user, damaging their business reputation. When dealing with negativity in your web presence, a quick, factual and polite response will show potential employees (and potential customers) that you are an outstanding partner in the whole process.

A company’s online presence is only part of the equation of why candidates are ghosting. It’s a well-known fact that it’s a candidate’s job market and great candidates hold all the cards and have many options when making a career choice. It doesn’t change the fact that ghosting is frustrating and expensive, and you can’t control what a candidate chooses to do. But you can control what your company does. So, build an employer brand that great candidates want to be a part of.


Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Key Steps to Follow for Finding the Best Candidates and Right Hire


I’m looking to fill a open position. How can I find the BEST candidate who will be the right hire?


This is the million-dollar question when interviewing!  The resume is the first impression of the candidate, which can be a good one or a bad one.  You think it’s a great feeling when you post a job and get a big response from candidates, only to find out none of them are a fit or who you are looking to hire!  The resume does not always tell you the true story of the candidate, let’s be honest there is some “fluff” added to make them stand out and sound like the best candidate for the open position.  How can you get past the “fluff” and see the real potential the candidate has?  We have to go beyond the traditional hiring and look beyond the resume to find the right hire.

Follow these key steps to find your next hire!

  • Develop clear hiring criteria.

Sometimes or many times we will let our emotions get in the way of making a sound hiring decision.  To keep this from happening, make sure you have clear hiring criteria with a complete list of skills and personalities you are looking for in a candidate.  Make sure to note what you are “not” looking for to know when you see it and to avoid a bad hire.  Keep your emotions out of the hiring process.  If in doubt, refer back to the hiring criteria to verify your decision.  Checking this step will ensure that you are making the right hire!

  • Write follow up questions to be included with the candidate resume.

If you are just using the resume to make a decision, you will be falling short of learning all the candidate has to offer!  Include questions for the candidate to answer that will help you help you make the right decision.  You are probably thinking, what should I ask?  Keep the questions short, brief, and specific about what you want.  An example question for a sales candidate could be “How do you sell?  Be specific but limit your response to two or three paragraphs.”  This is a good way to see if they can follow directions.  If they do not, this may be a reason to not move forward with this particular candidate.

  • Use experiential interviews to find the right fit.

There are so many resources for candidates to use to prepare for the in-person interviews.  You can learn how the potential candidate will perform the job by asking them to do the job.  Have the candidate demonstrate how they would sell, write a computer program, or how they would solve a problem.  Ask these experiential questions based on the job the candidate is applying for.

  • Ask candidates how they handle failures during the interview.

We all know we have had some failures in our past jobs but look for honesty in sharing the failures.  If the candidate does not share failures, this could be a red flag.  You want honest employees and if they cannot “own” failures, then are they are not going to step up and tell you if you have an issue or problem once they are hired.  You should be looking for transparency with your employees, so be on the watch out for those honest and transparent employees!

These steps will make your next hire a little easier and provide you with a clearer picture of who you are hiring!  You don’t have to be blindsided in hiring as long as you have the tools in place to help you make the right hiring decisions.  There is relief that following these steps will keep you from being blind-sided when an exciting candidate turns out to be really disappointing.  The bottom line, according to Inc., is that the employees you hire are only going to be as good as your interview process.  Put a plan in place, and make sure it’s followed for every interview.  Good luck with finding your next right hire!


Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival.  That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees.  Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

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What Are the Benefits of a MicroMasters Certification?


I was recently reviewing a candidate’s resume and I noticed that they had listed a MicroMasters certification under their education for supply chain management. What is a MicroMasters certification and what does it mean for a candidate’s qualification for my open position?


A MicroMasters certification is a certificate of completion of an abbreviated online graduate level course from one of many top universities through edX. edX, founded by Harvard University and MIT has been developing massive open online courses since 2012 and has co-developed MicroMasters programs in association with top-brand institutions worldwide such as Columbia University, MIT, RIT and the University of Michigan. All of the MicroMasters programs are sponsored by at least one industry partner such as Microsoft, IBM, GE, Bloomberg and Boeing to name a few.

The MicroMasters certification on a resume means that the candidate has completed a career-focused program backed by a top-tier educator and some of the most respected businesses worldwide. They provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. A MicroMasters certificate program is designed to be a continued and targeted education to move forward in a specific field of work or it can be the stepping stone to expediting the completion of a Master degree. These MicroMasters programs are being offered in many fields, however there is a strong focus on new technology skills areas like AI, IoT, robotics, and data science.

Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX, and a professor at MIT, says “Adding MicroMasters to a resume/CV or LinkedIn profile signifies that a learner has gained exposure to a field at a strategic level, giving them the knowledge necessary to advance their career.” Employers are confident that successful students in the MicroMasters programs have the education and training needed to meet their organization’s needs. The MicroMasters programs are supported by employers such as Microsoft because frequentative learning is a way of re-skilling your workforce and contributes to a culture of lifelong learning.

The programs are advantageous to both students and employers. edX lists five specific advantages:

  • Career-focused: The programs are validated by top companies.
  • Backed by credit: A MicroMasters credential equals 25-50 percent of a Master’s degree – 20-30 ECTS in Europe.
  • Speed: Each program is designed to take three to six months.
  • Affordable: Program costs range from $800 to $1,400.
  • Flexible: Programs are offered online multiple times per year and on-demand. Students proceed at their own pace.

“After earning a MicroMasters certification, learners can immediately apply their new knowledge to further their career, or they can apply to an on-campus program and put their MicroMasters credential toward completing a master’s degree,” Agarwal says.

We will continue to see the addition of MicroMasters certifications on resumes as the number of subjects and universities participating in these programs is expected to continue to rise.  MicroMasters certifications can vary depending on the program and university, but what is universal is that they all offer global learners the opportunity to study master’s level courses from top-ranked graduate programs, advance their professional skills, and earn valuable credentials toward their Master’s from top-tier institutions to advance their career.


Are you overwhelmed trying to screen and hire the right talent for your company? Hiring isn’t what it used to be and it can be difficult to keep up with new regulations and sources of talent. That’s were Strategic HR can help. Let our team of experts assist you with your recruitment needs. Visit our Recruitment page to learn more.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Things to Consider When Recruiting Students from a University or College


With graduation right around the corner, it prompted conversation on our team about filling our entry level positions with new graduates. I heard there may be more hoops to jump through than I thought. What do I need to consider when recruiting students from a college campus?


Great question! If you’re planning on recruiting students from a college campus, here are some things to consider:

  1. A great place to start is college career fairs. The first piece of advice is register early. Many career fairs will fill up quickly, and there are companies both locally and nationally that are recruiting for the same talent. 
  2. It’s not as simple as walking onto campus and passing out business cards with free stress balls. Be aware of employer guidelines and regulations. Many universities will have a Code of Conduct built in for any employer that recruits on their campus. Prepare yourself by reading up on the guidelines to leave you and your company in good standing. Check out Ohio State University Employer Policies for an example.
  3. Maybe the career fair isn’t a fit for you, and you would like to extend a full-time offer to your existing summer intern. Great! Now, consider the school’s recruiting calendar. Many schools will not allow you to extend an offer with a deadline that is before the academic year starts. In fact, many local schools, including Miami University, do not allow you to extend an offer that ends before a certain date. Check out some of their regulations below:
    • “Converting Internships to full-time positions – Offer to remain open until October 15th or 3 weeks from receipt of written offer, whichever is longer.”
    • “Full-time or Internship offers during Fall Recruiting – Offer to remain open until October 31st or 3 weeks from receipt of written offer, whichever is longer.”
    • “Full-time or Internship offers during Spring Recruiting – Offer to remain open until February 28th or 3 weeks from receipt of written offer, whichever is longer.”
    • Note: these offer/acceptance guidelines are not just for Miami University. In fact, check out the Career Center Policies and Guidelines for Employers at UC Berkley! See any similarities?
  4. Employers: Make sure that you fully understand the rules and regulations of each university that you plan to recruit at, and that you abide by them. Maintain a good standing (or even better, strong relationship) with the university. Good standing with the university means good standing with professors. And good standing with professors means free marketing when they begin to talk you up in class. Free marketing means that suddenly you’re the coolest kid on campus, free stress balls or not.
  5. Students: Know your rights! You may already be swamped between your research on potential employers, that exam you definitely haven’t studied for, and the additional pressures of being a college student soon to be unleashed on the world. Take some additional time to make sure that YOU’RE aware of the rules and regulations that your university has placed upon your potential employers. Don’t be caught by “explosive offers” that fall outside of the guidelines or code of conduct. You have a right to consider any and all offers that may be made available to you.

Plus, don’t forget, if you are employing an intern, you need to follow the FLSA regulations regarding whether you have to pay the intern or not.  Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to get in contact with the university! They’ll provide you with the guidance necessary for a successful effort when recruiting students.


Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, Strategic HR can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

What Should Be Considered When Measuring Recruitment Performance?


I need to measure our recruitment performance and develop a metric to do so. How do I set that up and what would I measure?


Since there isn’t a universal formula for calculating recruitment performance and costs, you will need to determine what costs you want to track and attribute to your hiring efforts. There are many direct and indirect costs that you may consider including in the calculation. Below are some of the basic costs that you should consider when measuring recruitment performance.


Costs incurred to source for candidates using print ads, online job posting boards, and/or resume banks. Be sure you divide the cost of these sources by the number of positions you are filling that use the source on order to have a true cost for a specific hire.


Costs associated with the time and expense for your staff to handle and review resumes and applicants for a particular position, including:

  • Administrative staff time to open, respond, and route resumes to the hiring team. To calculate this time, figure out an average cost per resume and track how many resumes are received for each job to calculate the administrative cost per job.
  • Hiring team/recruiter time spent screening through resumes and following up as needed. Similar to administrative costs, this can be calculated per resume/applicant to determine an average cost.
  • Be sure to track time spent on preliminary phone interviews or pre-screens. Look at how many were conducted and the time spent by the recruiter to prepare, conduct, summarize and communicate the results of those interviews.
  • Do you have an automated applicant tracking program? This is an indirect cost that you may choose to pro-rate across your hires for a specific period of time, somewhat like depreciating a new computer on your taxes.


Costs associated with the interview including time spent scheduling interviews and travel expenses or accommodations for the hiring team or interviewee that were reimbursed.

  • Remember to calculate interview costs to include the number of staff members involved in the interviews, their time spent per interview, and the number of interviews they attended to determine the average cost of the interviewers’ time.


Hiring expenses include:

  • Time and expense associated with the follow-up with candidates during negotiations and to notify those that were not hired.
  • Cost of referral fees from a recruiting agency or an employee referral.
  • Relocation costs for the new hire to relocate. Some costs may include moving company, airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, temporary housing, house hunting visits, assistance with sell/buy, or spouse/dependent assistance.
  • Cost for background investigations and/or reference checks and drug screens.
  • Incentives or sign-on bonus for the new employee.
  • Think about all the costs to bring someone on board, such as orientation, mentoring, benefits enrollment, computers, cell phones, uniforms, etc.

Not every hire will incur all of these expenses. And, your organization may choose not to track some of these costs, but this list is a starting point to help you identify your recruitment costs per hire. The key is to identify what recruitment costs you are going to track and then consistently track them for all your hires to have an internal comparison from one hire to the next.

Other Considerations

There are other measures you need to consider as you evaluate the overall success of your recruitment performance and what you can do better next time. These include:

  • How long did it take to fill the position from start to hire date?
  • What could you have done to reduce the time to hire and not have impacted the quality of the hire?
  • What was the impact on productivity while the position was left vacant? This is a very difficult calculation to conduct especially depending on the position. However, it does have an impact on the hiring manager and the organization as a whole. If it can’t be quantified, at least keep it in mind.
  • How satisfied was the hiring manager / organization with the hire? This assessment can be done following the hiring but should be repeated again 3-6 months after the employee has been on the job to get a real sense of how successful the hire was.

Be sure you review your cost analysis and each of these other measures to identify what you can capitalize on next time and what you need to do different. For example, what was the success of your recruitment sources? Which ones provided the most candidates and more importantly the quality candidates? Which ones did not?


Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It takes a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly it doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how our services can help you get your recruiting on the right track.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

What To Do When a Background Check Results in a Rejection of Hire

HR Question:

What steps need to be taken after I reject an applicant based on the results of a background check? What are pre-adverse and adverse action notices?  When do I need to send them?

HR Answer:

When considering the addition of a new employee to your team, background checks are an essential final screening tool that many employers use.  But, what happens when the results of a background check are concerning?  Can you simply reject this applicant and move on to the next one?  Think again!  

If hiring decisions are made as a result of the findings on a background check, employers are legally required, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to take certain steps in order to remain compliant.

Before making a final decision, a “Pre-Adverse Action Notice” must be sent to the applicant.  This notice should inform the applicant that there were questionable findings on the background check, but should not cite specifics.  After the notice is sent, a reasonable amount of time must be given to the applicant to dispute these findings.  Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not define a “reasonable” amount of time, the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau state that a minimum of 5 business days can be considered “reasonable.”  Along with the Pre-Adverse Action Notice, the applicant must be sent a copy of the background check and a copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s, “A Summary of Your Rights.”

If, after a reasonable amount of time, the applicant has not disputed the background report findings, then an “Adverse Action Notice” must be sent to the applicant.  Along with the reason for denying employment, this notice must include several key pieces of information:

  • The name and address of the Consumer Reporting Agency, along with a statement that the adverse action is based upon information in the background check.
  • A statement noting that the Consumer Reporting Agency who supplied the report did not make any decisions regarding the adverse action.
  • A statement outlining the applicant’s right to dispute any information included in the background check.
  • A notice stating that the applicant can receive a free copy of the report within 60 days.

Often your background check provider can help you through this process and may even provide the forms and an online tool to initiate the notices.


Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, Strategic HR can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Are Social Media Background Checks Legal?


Should my company conduct social media background checks as part of our recruitment process?


When a hiring team considers using social media background checks on potential candidates, they should first assess the risk of performing these checks and proceed with caution. Social media profiles often include information such as:

  • Age,
  • Race,
  • Gender,
  • National Origin,
  • Religion, and
  • other protected classes.

Previewing this protected information can lead to an assortment of legal trouble if hiring decisions are made or appear to be made based on social media checks performed by someone that has the ability to impact the hiring decision.

Another item to be aware of is protected activity. For example, if a candidate was criticizing his or her former employer on social media and a hiring decision was made based on those comments, it may be considered protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

In the past, some employers have requested social media user names and/or passwords to access the information this way. However, many states are now making it illegal for employers to request this information.

This only skims the surface of the potential workplace compliance issues that could arise by conducting social media checks on potential employees. If you are going to use social media as a tool in your recruiting process, it is generally a good rule not to handle social media background checks internally. However, if you still feel a candidate’s social media can help you in your recruitment process, you need to identify job related information that you hope to gain from the check (i.e. writing skills, consistency of job titles and dates), AND have someone that is not at all involved in the hiring decision (i.e. another employee or an external service or consultant) conduct these searches. This way, you will be able to obtain the information you need, without the perception of discriminating against your candidate.


Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk stiff fines or penalties. Strategic HR specializes in helping companies find, hire, and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.


Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Requiring a Formal Education for a Job


Have you considered not having a formal education requirement for your current job openings?


Throughout the past couple of years, many companies have been moving away from having a formal education requirement to get a job with their organizations. If you think about it, how much of your college education do you use in your daily work? The trend originated in the IT industry. Companies found that they were cutting off large portions of the talent market by having a formal education requirement.  Many of the skills that they were looking for were found in candidates that were not old enough to go to college or that were self-taught. When it became obvious that there was valuable talent in the recruiting world that was being ignored, other business sectors started following suit.

A Fistful of Talent article notes that the head of HR for Penguin Random House, Neil Morrison, used extensive hiring analytics and found that degrees had no correlation to the quality of hire and performance level in their organization. While a formal education can provide much needed skills for certain positions, companies are finding that with the tightening talent pool, using a formal education requirement as a primary filter may be too encompassing in the selection process. Ultimately, it comes down to finding people who come to work ready to work.


With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening. It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

In my recruitment strategies, can I really text a candidate?


Sometimes, in my recruitment strategies, I have such a hard time getting candidates to respond to my calls and emails.  A colleague asked if I had tried texting?  Can I really do this?  It seems intrusive.


In a word, yes.  Especially if a good candidate is not responding to other means.  Texting is a ubiquitous part of our everyday life, why not use it in your recruitment strategies?  The fact is that many people are more likely to check messages on their mobile phone and keep it nearby.  A text may get their attention when a voice message may not.  If you do so, I would offer some parameters:

  • Make sure and identify yourself.
  • Keep it brief but professional.
  • Your goal should be to engage in a dialog/conversation; craft your message carefully to gain the best response.
  • Consider the right time of day to text someone; where texting is more immediate, is it appropriate to text a candidate in the evening or early morning?
  • There are also web-based phone options that will also allow you to text, which can avoid using your personal cell phone.

It’s a very tight job market, and a recruiter must use every tool available to reach candidates. The world has changed and our recruiting tactics to keep up.

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening.  It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”.  It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget.  Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees.  Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you.  Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.



Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Recruiting Reality Check


A couple of my hiring managers are disconnected from the reality of our current labor market – they still want to compare several top candidates before making a decision. We’re losing great candidates because it’s taking too long to try to find more candidates to compare. How do I help them understand we need to move smarter and faster?


We understand your frustration, and you’re not alone! Since you’re in the trenches of daily recruiting, you know firsthand how quickly great candidates are getting snatched up by competitors who are able to move faster in their selection process. You probably also noticed that it’s more difficult to find viable candidates for many positions because the available labor pool is small. According to the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board’s latest unemployment statistics (September 2016), unemployment for the Greater Cincinnati area is 4.1%.

We can no longer post job openings and expect to be flooded with resumes. Rather, recruiters have to spend more time sourcing to identify viable passive candidates. Once we find those candidates, we need to move them through the selection process quickly or we risk losing them altogether. All of this combined heightens the need for a fast and efficient recruiting and selection process with the ability to make quick, astute hiring decisions.

So, how do you explain the reality of today’s labor market to your hiring managers? If sharing the points above doesn’t help, maybe you can try a new angle. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the recruiting process and house hunting? Ask them to recall how they approached house hunting, which often goes like this:

Step 1: You go into house hunting with a huge list of “must haves” that you simply cannot live without – just as we do when recruiting for an open position.

Step 2: You see the houses currently available on the market, which may not be nearly as many as you had hoped for, nor do they have all of your desired features. (Where are the granite countertops and hardwood floors?!) But you need to find a house, so you forge ahead to step 3!

Step 3: You do a bit of soul searching to refine and prioritize your “must haves” list to identify what’s truly most important to you and determine what you’re willing to live without or change/update yourself. (Everybody likes a DIY project, right?)

Step 4: Act fast and call in your offer immediately before someone else snatches up your next soon-to-be dream house! (You’ve learned this because it happened with the last two houses you tried to buy, but took too long to decide upon, and lost them to other buyers. Meanwhile, those other savvy buyers are already hosting their new housewarming parties!)

If you apply the lessons learned during the house hunting experience to your recruiting and selection process, you know you need to:

  • Be accurate in defining the role you’re looking to fill and the “must haves” versus “nice to haves.” Make sure your job descriptions are up to date too!
  • Assess the current pool of potential candidates and connect with them quickly.
  • Readjust expectations and “must haves” if the labor market doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Determine critical skills needed to start, and what could possibly be trained.
  • Move fast on strong candidates; even if you don’t have several to compare. Don’t let your desire to shop around cause you to lose a great potential employee.
  • Celebrate knowing that you did your homework, understood the market and made a smart, fast new hire!

Hopefully, this gives you a new angle for your recruiting conversations with your hiring managers. Building a strong, trusting relationship with your hiring managers will be invaluable as you navigate the waters of recruiting in today’s labor market.

Finding qualified employees for your business can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming HR functions. Strategic HR has a wealth of knowledge concerning current trends in the job market as well as where to go to find the key staff you need for your company. We have the know-how, the contacts and the tools needed to get your job search up and running. Whether you need to fill several on-going job openings, or have a hard-to-fill position that’s been zapping your energy, allow Strategic HR to do the work for you. Find out how our Outsourced Recruitment Solution can help you with all stages of the recruitment process.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Hiring Ex-Sex Offenders

HR Question:

I am open to the idea of possibly hiring someone with a past record as a sex offender.  Will this be a concern to my employees?  What do I need to think about before bringing them on board?

HR Answer:

When it comes to hiring ex-sex offenders, companies should walk into the situation with eyes open, educating themselves while being open-minded to the many benefits the hire can bring to the table.  Not only can you bring benefits to your organization, you will be helping the individual by offering employment and stability to those looking for an opportunity in the working world.

While sex offenders should have just as much of an opportunity to employment as anyone else, there are questions that an employer must address before hiring these individuals, based on their criminal past.  It is essential to ensure that they are able to perform the essential duties of the job and ensure that they have no restrictions on their employment.  Some ex-offenders are faced with restrictions such as working with minors, or having access to a computer and/or internet, and employers will need to work with the offender in order to find a suitable position that meets these requirements, if that is possible.  Open and honest communication with the individual will help you to meet these requirements.  Other considerations:

Consider relevant factors

Relevant factors that should be considered include the type of offense, the number of offenses that have occurred, rehabilitation efforts, and length of time it has been since the offense.

 Is the offense job related?

While it is easy to justify not hiring a sex offender “just because”, employers should be open minded and think about if the offense could potentially affect the job to be done. If not, then the applicant should be considered like any other.

Do I still feel like I am providing a safe work environment for my employees?

The most important thing you should consider when considering hiring an ex-sex offender is if you are still providing a safe and comfortable work environment for yourself and other employees.  This answer can vary based on your opinion about sex offenders, but employers should keep an open mind and take into account all of the factors that go into hiring someone with a criminal background. Keep in mind that applicants should always have a chance to explain their criminal background.

Finally, keep in mind that if you do hire someone with a record, your company may be eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is a Federal tax credit that is available to employers who hire and retain individuals from target groups that face considerable barriers when it comes to finding a job, like sex offenders.

 Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Recruiting Etiquette


This is supposed to be a tough job market with too many job seekers and not enough jobs. I would think job seekers would be extra careful about their business etiquette. But I’ve called and emailed would-be candidates to the point of “stalking” with no response – how many times should I try before giving up?


Both sides of the fence, job seekers and recruiters, have been complaining about the lack of business, or more specifically recruiting etiquette, these days. Seems that all camps are presently unhappy with the current state of things.

When contacting applicants it is most common to try multiple times and ways to reach them.  Whether the applicant sends in a resume or they are sourced via another method, you should call or email as the first contact, wait a day or two, then follow up with the opposite of how you first attempted contact (call if email was used as the first contact method or vice versa), then wait a few more days before making a last contact using the original method (call or email). Simplified it looks like this:

Email – Call – Email     <or>     Call – Email – Call

Depending on the time frame of the search, this contact process might span a few days or as much as a week or two. This method of contact allows for multiple approaches (in the event the email gets caught in spam) and multiple times (in the event that you catch them on vacation and unavailable).  This will provide adequate opportunity for a truly interested applicant to respond.

If none of these approaches work, before you give up on an applicant entirely, be sure to look at surrounding circumstances that might impact a speedy response time. Did you contact the applicant around the holidays?  Could their message be in YOUR spam folder?  Do they work on an off-shift that makes connecting with you problematic?  Make sure you provide them with alternate ways to get back in touch with you!  Privacy concerns may be an issue so be sure to be discreet if necessary and respect the applicant’s need for discretion. And, when possible, be patient.

Strategic HR provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.


Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Temporary Employees and Background Checks


We had a fabulous temporary working for us from a temporary agency. We decided to hire the individual and ran them through our process including conducting a background check. The results were shocking…we thought the temporary agency had already verified their background. How should I handle this going forward to ensure this doesn’t happen again?


Many companies do treat temporary employees differently when it comes to background checks and only realize it when it’s too late – when they try to hire the individual. The staffing company said they ran a “background check” before they placed the individual with you, but when you compare the results of your own verification versus the staffing company’s, it hits you: If you would have run your own background check first, instead of relying on the staffing company’s, you would never have considered the individual in the first place. Now what???

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common. For some reason, employers allow temporary workers into the organization without knowing anything about the “background check” the staffing company performed prior to coming to work for your organization.

Did they just run a database search? Maybe they just entered the employee’s name in a local county records website or just Googled the person. Or, even more disturbing, maybe they didn’t research the person at all!

The term “background check” is very broad. When working with temporary employees, make sure your staffing company is running quality courthouse background research before you let them place temporary personnel with your organization.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask to see the reports! Don’t assume that you and the staffing company agree on what constitutes a “background check”. Chances are that you don’t and your standards might be significantly higher. Set the expectations on what screenings you want them to run.
  2. Make sure your searches include county criminal research. County research is the best place to find if a felony or misdemeanor charge exists for an individual and also helps ensure legal compliance with FCRA.
  3. Don’t be fooled by a “federal” search. This check certainly has a place, but can be misleading. It sounds all-encompassing but most crimes are state crimes, NOT federal. Most people who have a criminal past would come back clean on a federal search.

If you currently run pre-employment screenings before you bring someone onboard, you already know the importance of this verification process. Don’t put your company and employees at risk. Make sure employees from staffing companies meet the same expectations as direct hires.

A special thanks to Matt Messersmith, President, with Signet Screening inc. for his expert contribution to our Question of the Week. If you have questions for Matt, contact him at or 513.330.6695 or visit Signet’s website at

Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, Strategic HR can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.

Keeping Electronic Recruiting Correspondence


Much of our recruiting is now done online and via email. Do I need to keep the emails generated from our last round of hiring? Does it matter if the candidate followed through with a response or not?


You need to keep any records from the search for one year – those that you were considering AND those that you were not (even those that applied but may not have followed through with a response to your email). Keeping them in an electronic file is great – date it and pitch it next year. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to keep employment records for one year. After that time, employers can either discard the record or archive it, provided they maintain the confidentiality of information contained in each record. Suppose you have a resume, cover letter, list of references and brief notes from a telephone screening, yet you decided to select other candidates for in-person interviews. The records generated, including electronically, during the course of the preliminary screening are, in fact, hiring records. They must be kept for one year, pursuant to EEOC regulations.

Another important reason to keep hiring records on file even if the applicant wasn’t hired is so applicants don’t have possible recourse if they are rejected during the hiring process. Applicants who claim they weren’t hired based on factors not related to the job (i.e, race, sex, national origin, age or religion) have up to one year to file a formal discrimination charge with the EEOC. Should the EEOC decide to investigate the applicant’s complaint, the agency can ask employers to produce records used during the hiring process. The company’s hiring practices don’t look favorable if the employer can’t comply with the request because it has discarded the hiring materials.

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. What you keep can be as detrimental as what you don’t keep in some instances. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having Strategic HR assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Religious Requirements For Hiring


When hiring for my religious-based organization is it legal for me to require candidates be of the same religion?


While religion is protected under Title VII, there is a Religious Organization Exemption that permits religious organizations to give employment preference to members of their own religion when hiring. This exemption only applies to organizations that can ‘define’ their religious association through articles of incorporation, religious day-to-day operations involving services, products or education (such as a church or school), non-profit status, or an affiliation with or support from another religious organization.

This exemption does not allow religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, color, national origin or disability – even when the religion has, as a tenet of its beliefs, an element of discrimination (such as not associating with people of other races).

If your organization has a “purpose and character that is primarily religious” then you can prefer to hire individuals that meet your religious needs.

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk stiff fines or penalties. Strategic HR specializes in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Hiring Individuals Granted Asylum


Can I legally hire someone who has been granted political asylum?


Yes…as long as they have the proper paperwork. Individuals entering the United States seeking protection / asylum are able to remain in the U.S. and apply for asylum within one year of arrival. These individuals are not eligible to apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the U.S. at the same time they apply for asylum. They are, however, able to apply for permission to work after 150 days of their asylum application if they are still awaiting a decision on their application.

Individuals granted asylum may work immediately. Some asylees choose to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for convenience or identification purposes, but an EAD is not necessary to work for asylees. Follow this link to determine how to properly complete the I-9 form for an asylee and what identification is needed by the Department of Homeland Security.

VISAs, EADs, I-9s – An alphabet soup of acronyms and rules pertaining to the hiring of a foreign national. It can be confusing, even to the experienced HR professional, if you aren’t familiar with the process. That’s where Strategic HR can help. We know the legal DOs and DON’Ts of hiring – so let us assist you. Visit our Recruiting page to learn more about how we can help.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Personality Tests Prior to Interview


Is it okay to ask candidates to take an on-line personality profile before anyone from the company talks to the candidate? Only those candidates who “pass” the profile will move forward in the process. I’m concerned that using such a test to screen candidates could be legally questionable.


Generally speaking it is not recommended to conduct a personality assessment as the first step in the recruitment process, as personality fit is only one factor in the hiring equation. Any assessment used for hiring purposes needs to rely on the bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) of the position. Additionally, the test itself needs to be proven reliable and valid for testing those BFOQs. There are many pre-employment tests sold that are loaded with inappropriate questions – questions not necessarily linked to the necessities of the job. If the assessment can be shown to be related to the skill needs of the position and it is administered to all the applicants equally for that position then it should be okay. But when talking about personality assessments, that’s another matter.

While many large corporations use such tests as part of their initial on-line screening, if the test has not been vetted and causes a disparate impact (i.e. has a detrimental impact on one group of applicants versus another group), this can cause major legal headaches. What happens, for example, if the test results are deemed voided? Should the employer not rely on them at all? If the employer does not rely on them, what about the applicants that did well on the test – do they have a possible legal claim along with the applicants who did not get hired? These instances often give rise to very expensive lawsuits with lots of publicity – the New Haven firefighter case decided in 2009 by the Supreme Court is a great example.

If a personality test “must” be done, it would be best to do so only after hire, as a tool to help guide management in building a relationship with the new employee, or it should only be administered to final candidates as a tool to help distinguish between candidates; not select a final candidate. A personality profile isn’t something that should be used as a tool for hire, unless it can be shown to be job related. And it should never be THE tool to determine if a candidate is hired or not, but one of many tools.

Regarding the legal risk associated with using such a test, this is a very complicated legal area, and can easily give rise to litigation. You should check with your legal counsel before using such a test.

Strategic HR understands the complexity and pitfalls of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new employee. For more information on how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively, visit our Recruitment page.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Checking Applicants Against Terror List


Are employers required to check applicants against a terrorist list prior to hiring them?


Not necessarily, and it depends on the industry in which you work.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) publishes a list of names called the “Specially Designated Nationals List” (SDN) that contains lists of names of people and/or companies whose assets are blocked by the US National Government and it is “generally prohibited from dealing with them.” This list is over 500 pages long and contains several common names (depending on the nationality and origin of the person/company) with very few details that would allow a hiring manager to discern between them (i.e. specific address, date of birth, etc.). Visit the US Department of Treasury Resource Center for links to this information.

So, what is your alternative? A good second option would be to conduct a background check and use a third-party vendor who offers to check names and information against this established list. By doing this, it takes the guess-work out of your hands and leaves the verification to someone else who is familiar with this type of work.

However, as stated above, while it isn’t necessarily a requirement to check applicants against this list, and the chances of encountering an individual or company who is on that list is generally low, it definitely depends on what industry you work in. If, for example, you work as a hiring manager for the US Government in the National Security Department, then, YES…check the list. If you work for any national security agency or business where you are dealing with the US Government, it would be wise to review the list or at least employ a company whose background check capabilities can reliably do it for you.

Strategic HR provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement as a few of our options. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Creative Recruitment Solution


Do you have any tips on a new creative way to attract candidates to our company during the recruiting process?


Try a recruitment video. Jennifer King, in her article, Employment Branding and Recruiting Videos: 3 Companies That Do It Right, shares the following information.

CareerBuilder customers receive a 34% greater application rate when they add video to their job postings. But what do those videos convey about the company’s employment brand?

I’ve seen plenty of recruiting videos, and there’s one thing that makes one stand out from the rest: a strong employment brand.

A recruiting video is a great tool to establish and strengthen your employment brand, or the way prospective applicants, candidates and employees perceive you as an employer, as Gallup defines the phrase.

Companies that effectively use video to promote their employment brand do so by showcasing their employees and work environment in the most realistic way possible. If jobseekers can visualize what it would be like working at your company, you’re likely to attracta pool of enthusiastic applicants who truly know what they’d be getting into.

To convey an authentic employee experience, companies should focus on showing their true colors in their recruiting videos. Here are three videos that do it well.

Zendesk provides a complete view of the company to give the audience a realistic yet entertaining look at the organization. The video highlights some of the small details, like the elevator, the door greeter or the company mural, to add some rich color to the personality and culture of Zendesk.

The Rackspace video also gives potential candidates an authentic view of the company by letting employees tell their story in a less scripted way.

HubSpot’s recruiting video also showcases its employees and work environment to shape the employment brand. This video also shines more light on the people who work at HubSpot as they’re filmed talking about the tools they use and the projects they’re working on.

What do you think of these examples? Hopefully they will help you think about your own employment brand and how you can use video to convey the employee experience.

Our thanks to Jennifer King for her insightful answer to this hard question.  Jennifer is an HR Analyst for Software Advice, a company that compares and reviews HR software. Read the full article on her HR blog.

Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Sponsorship Not Available


Our company is not able to provide sponsorship to candidates wanting to work legally in the United States and needing an H1-B Visa. How do we word this on our employment ads to avoid problems?


With the proliferation of social media and recruitment being conducted online, job ads that are posted on the Internet can attract candidates that do not reside in the United States. For some companies, particularly small ones, it can be a financial hardship for a company to sponsor or transfer an H-1B Visa for employees who require an employment Visa to work legally in the U.S. We were advised by an attorney to use the following language:

“Applicants must be authorized to work for ANY employer in the US. We are unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of employment Visa at this time.”

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR specializing in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Pre-Employment Testing


My manager asked me to look into various pre-employment testing options for new hires. Why do we need this?


Pre-Employment assessments can serve many purposes, and assist in recruiting by:

  • Shortening the hiring process by screening out inappropriate candidates
  • Helping determine candidate fit and potentially reduce turnover
  • Predicting performance by evaluating past behaviors
  • Serving as a way to find candidates with qualities that match top performing employees
  • Providing a baseline and agenda for further developing employees

There are many types of assessments that can be useful in the hiring process. Pre-employment tests can be used to measure:

  • physical ability
  • mental ability (aptitude)
  • honesty and integrity
  • knowledge or proficiency
  • literacy

Pre-employment physicals are used to evaluate an individuals physical ability to perform the tasks of a job; whether it is lifting a certain amount of weight or working under certain circumstances requiring strength and stamina. Other types of pre-employment assessments that focus on measuring an individual’s talents, personalty and intelligence, include cognitive (or aptitude) tests which look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to learn new tasks, personality tests which focus on honesty, integrity and reliability, and skill assessment tests which evaluate the ability to read, write, and perform mathematical calculations or use computer software. In addition to these tests, background checks (which may include evaluating criminal records, driving records and credit history) and drug/alcohol screens are also useful pre-employment types of tests. Some of these may be required depending on the type of job you are filling.

Psychology and learning theory tells us that the best predictor of future performance is to look at past performance. An assessment asks candidates questions that get at past behavior and performance to help an employer determine if the candidate’s qualities will fit with their required needs. By looking thoroughly at a candidate to ensure that their talents and personalities fit the needs of the job, there is a higher likelihood of that individual being happier, more productive, and staying longer in the new job.

Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why Strategic HR utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.


Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Why Pre-Screen Applicants


Recruiting takes so much time, and now a colleague has suggested that we prescreen job applicants. Is it worth the additional time and what is the benefit of prescreening?


We can all certainly agree that recruiting can be very time consuming; writing and placing ads, searching resume banks, screening resumes, and interviewing and vetting candidates. It’s often a catch-22: we need more staff to help with the workload, but the workload is so great we have no time to search for additional staff. Conducting a prescreen can be a valuable tool that can save time in the long run and help you recruit more productively.

No matter how well we write the job posting, sometimes it’s hard to tell from an applicant’s resume whether they have the specific requirements of the position. Having a prescreen allows you to further narrow the applicant pool to define the focus of your efforts. The prescreen serves as tool to add some 3-dimensional characteristics to a typically flat 2-dimensional resume.

Let’s say you need a welder with SMAW 5G Pipe weld skills and you have 20 resumes that just say “welding experience”. You could ignore the 20 resumes, but in today’s hiring environment, short on appropriately skilled talent, it often pays to turn over every stone to find the perfect match. You could talk with all 20 applicants, but that might take loads of time. A prescreener could help determine if the applicant has the exact pipe weld experience you need by asking the applicant for more specific details about their welding experience. A carefully constructed prescreen can identify which applicants meet the specific requirements of the job, before the resume ever has to be reviewed by HR or the hiring manager, saving both time. This is invaluable for a position that might get several hundred resume responses. Often the prescreen can be incorporated as part of the direct application process, narrowing candidates to only those who pass the prescreen.

When constructing the prescreen, length is key. Too short and you don’t get enough information, too long and applicants lose interest in the process and don’t complete the screener. Keeping the prescreen to no more than 10 questions is about ideal. Narrow down the questions to the must have skill sets or qualities. Even though it may take a little more time to construct the pre-screen initially, it saves time in the end by narrowing the candidate pool.

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening. It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Recruitment and Social Media


What role does HR need to take if social media is going to be the future of recruiting and network building?


HR must take a very active role. Social media is about creating and maintaining relationships; it’s a two-way communication tool. Using social media to recruit takes more than posting your job opening on a social media site and waiting for the applicants to come in. If you want to simply recruit on the Internet there is a plethera of large, small and niche job boards that will allow you to do just that. These are bulletin board sites where your job goes up for others to read and respond to – an electronic classified section if you will. But if you want to use social media, interactive sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it takes a significant amount of dedication and time to make those tools work.

If your company is large enough to have a dedicated marketing person or department  chances are they are already engaged in social media to connect with customers, clients and vendors. In that case Human Resources should partner with Marketing to make sure a consistent message (brand image) is being shared and to integrate recruiting efforts with sales and marketing efforts – after all, recruitment is largely sellling and marketing your organization to potential employees. Why recreate the wheel when you can piggy-back on the tools already being used elsewhere in your organization. If there are currently no social media efforts being conducted in your company, HR will have to take the charge and start from the ground up. This includes defining the company’s stance on social media and creating a policy that sets out the paramters of social media use (if not already determined).

In either circumstance, HR will need to create a social media strategy that identifies the objectives being sought, the audience being targeted, the internal resources needed and the social media to be used, as well as a criteria for measuring success.

  • There must be an underlying reason “why” to utilize social media – and “just because everyone else is doing it” isn’t the right reason.
  • Social media involves creating two-way conversations. These conversations need to be responsive and genuine despite being “virtual” and not all audiences will respond appropriately to this medium.
  • A robust social media stratey does not rely solely on HR to create and maintain the online relationships, but utilizes all employees within the organization.
  • All social media platforms are not created equal – in other words, use the right tool for the right job – the shotgun approach does not work with social media.
  • Finally, measuring success and proving value will be important in determining if the right social media platform has been used and if the costs are worthwhile.

It is up to HR to define the needs as it pertains to recruiting and networking, but creating an engaged and active audience is something that takes time and many individuals and is almost always a work in progress.

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It’s take a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, such as working with social media, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Making Adverse Employment Decisions


A background check that we conducted on a potential hire came back with a felony conviction.  Do I still have to hire this individual if he/she is otherwise qualified?


That can be a tricky situation. There are a number of laws that come into play. First is the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA requires that employers inform employees or potential hires prior to conducting a background check, that they may use a consumer report in making a hiring/employment decision. The employer must have the employee/candidate sign a release authorizing them to obtain the requested information. Additionally, the employee/candidate must receive notification of their rights under the FCRA. While many companies will include a release in their employee application, it is best to have a separate document that clearly communicates the intention to conduct the background check.

Should negative information be obtained as a result of the background check, there are a number of things to consider. There is no federal law prohibiting employers from asking about arrests or convictions. However, keep in mind that arrests do not necessarily indicate guilt; it is better to just look at convictions. While criminal conviction is not a protected status recognized by the EEOC, there can be adverse impact to certain groups in basing decisions solely on a conviction record. It is important to consider whether the conviction would impact the individual’s ability to do the job. For example, someone with a conviction for theft or writing bad checks may not be a viable candidate for your bookkeeper opening; however, a DUI conviction may not impact the individual’s ability to keep the books.

In the event that you make an adverse employment decision based on information you obtained from a consumer report, there are additional notification requirements under the FCRA. Prior to making the decision, you must send a pre-adverse action notification, advising the candidate that information you obtained from a background check may impact your employment decision;  a copy of the consumer report must be included with this letter and the employee must be allowed the opportunity to dispute with the credit reporting agency.  Finally, once the decision has been made, the individual must be notified again that an adverse decision has been made based on information obtained from a consumer report.

While this process may seem cumbersome, it is important that it is followed or you could risk civil liability and fines. The appropriate notifications can be obtained on the Fair Trade Commission website ( or the consumer reporting agency can often provide the documents.

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR specializes in helping companies find, hired and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Recruitment Sources


One of my managers just asked me to fill an opening for him. Our previous recruitment efforts consisted of a newspaper ad in the local newspaper which didn’t meet with much success. What should I do differently this time?


As much as you might think the person you are trying to hire hasn’t changed over the years, the fact is that times HAVE changed when it comes to connecting with those people you are trying to reach. An ad in the local newspaper or a sign in the window used to be all it took to fill a vacant job. Now you have to be a little bit more creative to target the right audience and to get the word out there that you are hiring.

That may mean connecting with local social service organizations or outplacement services to reach your intended audience. You may find that holding mini-job fairs on-site or at a local job assistance center will get you the best applicant pool. Being creative in the places you target to share your message will help. Keep that sign in the window, but also consider putting a bulletin out at the local library or asking a business down the street to share your need with their customers.

Social media is the buzz word in recruiting and if you haven’t yet tried it now is a great time to start. Sure it sounds very complicated and somewhat superficial, but the fact of the matter is it’s often free and can be quite successful. If your company is already using Facebook or Twitter to connect with customers, then do so also for your recruiting. And if you have a website, make sure you have a career page where you can post your opening and provide information on how to apply.

Keep in mind that it’s best to use a variety of advertising methods to share your job opening. Not everyone will read the jobs page of the local paper, but might notice the ad if it is posted somewhere else.

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It’s take a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Helping Hiring Managers with the Recruitment Process


One of my hiring managers recently asked “does HR need to interview all my candidates before I do?” What’s the best way for me to respond?


As an HR professional you know that recruitment is a learned skill; one that not everyone has the knack to perform and even some despise. We often get push-back on why HR has to stick their noses into everything, but there are some very good reasons. Rather than approaching managers with “because it is our job”, it is more beneficial to share the value added reasons that mean something to the manager – think about the pain or the problem you are solving for them.

One of the first “pains” remedied, that they may not even realize is a pain, are the legal ramifications that could impact the company, and them personally, during the recruitment process. One thing you are doing for them and the company is managing the process to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted to avoid costly law suits and fines.

Another “pain” that hiring managers often run into is the lack of time – not having enough time in the day. After all a hiring manager often has to do their regular job duties AND fill an opening at the same time. Recognizing and empathizing with the manager that you know they are extremely busy. Explaining that your role is to help them by extending their “reach” and taking steps to reduce the volume of time they need to commit to the hiring process. By allowing HR to conduct pre-screens, phone interviews, or to assist with the in-person interview is a great way to save them valuable time.

Remember, not all managers are good at hiring, or even like to hire. HR’s role is to assist with recruitment in any way possible from supplying an interview guide or question checklist to sitting in on interviews to facilitate the conversation. The key for getting your managers comfortable with HR help with recruitment is good communication. You are assisting the hiring manager in selecting their future staff; employees who will help the manager succeed. The hiring manager needs to know what is happening with the recruitment process at all times or they may feel that they should be doing it themselves. To do this successfully you will need to create rapport, determine the best means for communicating and identify how frequently they want to receive updates. This process needs to be a partnership in order to succeed this time and to set the stage for the next hire the manager will have!

Do you cringe when it’s time for the hiring manager to interview candidates? Are you afraid they might ask an illegal question or say something inappropriate? Then you need our handy Recruiting Questions Desktop Reference. Written with the untrained manager in mind, we have compiled a list of questions that should not be asked in an interview. Compiled by category, this easy to navigate reference is a great tool for every manager that hires. At only $10 it’s a great bargain for your piece of mind. Visit our Recruitment page for more information on this topic.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Sarbanes Oxley and Recordkeeping


I am revamping our recruitment process and need to know what we should be doing with regard to Sarbanes Oxley and employment.


As of June 1, 2005, you must properly dispose of any credit or consumer information that is kept for employees and/or job applicants or risk serious fines and penalties. So if, for example, you request any information from a consumer reporting agency, you must have a plan for how to dispose of the information in the future to avoid jeopardizing the identity (through identity theft) of your employees or applicants. A court could find you negligent if you do not store, distribute, and destroy your employment records in an “appropriate manner” and your files are stolen.

We found some wonderful information on this topic in the March 15, 2005 issue of HR Matters e-Tips at

In the article linked above, Personnel Policy Services elaborates on steps you can take to safeguard your employment records. In a nutshell:

  1. Limit access to employee files
  2. Be sure your files are locked
  3. Install and update firewalls on your computer
  4. Conduct background checks on all employees that will have access to sensitive information
  5. Remove access to sensitive material upon termination
  6. Do not use social security numbers to identify employees
  7. Destroy employment files that no longer need to be kept
  8. Assist your employees with identify theft protection measures

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR specializing in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

The Difference between Applicants and Candidates


My recruiter talks about applicants and candidates as if they’re not interchangeable–what’s the difference?


In some circles it’s possible that applicants and candidates are used interchangeably. But when talking with human resources recruiters, applicants are job seekers who have “applied” for your job opening. They have either sent a resume to you or completed an application – online or in person. You might have 300 applicants for a particular job opening. Candidates on the other hand are applicants that you have screened and deem minimally qualified for the job opening. They are contenders for the opening; these are the folks that you will interview by phone or in person or have some other form of contact to learn more about their qualifications. Out of an applicant pool of 300, you might only identify 15 candidates.

Strategic HR understands the complexity of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new hire. For more information visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively.

Strategic HR Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Helping Managers Interview


I’m so frustrated. After what I thought was sufficient training in interviewing dos and don’ts, one of my hiring managers apparently asked a candidate if they had children. Why don’t they get it? We could get into big trouble for a slip like that. What can I do to keep these managers on track and out of hot water?


Interviewing can be a slippery slope, especially when you have a hiring manager that doesn’t have to interview frequently – or may not have ever done it at all. Don’t be too harsh on your managers. It takes time learning how to interview and what seems like common sense to an HR professional, doesn’t make sense to someone on the outside. The manager might have been just making friendly conversation – unaware that his questioning was a potential hotbed for a lawsuit.
One of the best ways to ensure that things don’t go awry in the interview process is to provide interview guides and training to your managers. You mentioned training them, but how long ago? Did you leave them with an interview guide that they can use to refresh their memory next time out? Did you only give them an interview guide and not talk about “why” they cannot ask certain questions. Often by explaining the reasons behind something you get better recollection and response. Here are our best practices for helping managers interview:

  1. Partner with your hiring managers. HR knows how to select the best candidates, while hiring managers know the best skills and experience needed for the job. Engage the hiring manager throughout the hiring process; not just the interview.
  2. Provide managers with training. This can be a review of the entire recruitment process or just tips on interviewing. If managers don’t interview often you may have to offer a refresher course or give a quick 15 minute review before they begin in the process.
  3. Offer multiple training resources. Remember everyone has a different learning style. Combine instruction with role play to allow practice of new skills. Have handouts and reference materials for follow-up and quick referral.
  4. Provide an interview guide. Unstructured interviews are a recipe for trouble. Having a guide to work from help keeps the manager on track (asking the right questions) and keeps the interview consistent between candidates.
  5. Teach behavioral interviewing. Focusing on past performance (situations, behaviors and outcomes) will help avoid inappropriate questions by focusing on the job and skills needed to be successful.
  6. Differentiate between internal and external hires. While the mechanics of the two interviews are the same, the way they are handled is vastly different. Internal candidates need to be treated as “kid gloves” – with the utmost of respect and concern. How you treat your internal candidates can often mean the difference between filling one position as planned, or unexpectedly having to fill two.
  7. Encourage candidate feedback. Provide an interview evaluation to be filled out with each interview. This not only helps evaluate candidates, but also documents the reasons behind the hire and could support a hiring decision should discrimination be charged.
  8. Provide hands on guidance. Sit in on the first few interviews with your hiring manager. Your presence can help calm a nervous first-timer or guide an interviewer that has gotten lost in his notes or wanders into dangerous territory. Define your role before the interview – allowing the manager to take the reins if ready, or the back seat until more comfortable.

Remember, to be a great interviewer takes lots of practice. If hiring doesn’t happen at your company often you will have to play the role of teacher each and every time you hire.

Interviewing is more difficult than it can seem. Strategic HR knows that asking the right questions can help you find the best Talent, and asking the wrong questions can leave you with loads of trouble. That’s why we have experts to help you with your recruitment. And we have resources to help you with functions such as Recruitment – take our Recruiting Questions Desktop Reference for example. This handy reference provides your hiring managers with the right (and wrong) questions to ask in an interview – all in one useful document. Visit our Recruitment page for more information on this topic.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center is emphasized

Benefits and Types of “Outside” Recruiting Help


We recently had a few jobs to fill and decided to go “outside” our company for assistance. I was shocked at the cost and don’t know if I would look for outside help in the future. Was I overcharged?


I hear this a lot – how expensive it is to recruit new employees. The bottom line is, it IS expensive and that’s why we encourage employers to do everything possible to make sure they are hiring the RIGHT candidate the first time around and then do what’s necessary to KEEP the employees they have so that they don’t have to replace them.

I think one of the biggest reasons companies believe using outside help to hire is so expensive is because at the end of the process they get an invoice and actually see all the costs that are involved: developing a job description, posting the job, screening the applicants, selecting and interviewing the candidates, performing background and reference checks, and proper follow up with candidates. Many companies don’t track the proper metrics to determine how much that new hire actually cost – so the true cost of a hire using internal resources is somewhat diluted by lack of data. Another factor is that when internal HR hires someone the costs can end up lumped together with other HR activities, which makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of the total cost. It can take between 2-5 minutes to properly screen a resume. Multiply that times the hundreds of resumes one job posting can generate and you have hours of time spent just reading resumes and selecting candidates to interview. This is an important step in the hiring process, but one that costs money.

But to your point, hiring is expensive. You didn’t mention the type of help you employed, but “outside” help can be typically defined three ways:

  • In a Retained Search a hiring agency is retained to fill a specific, usually hard-to-fill, position. In this model the agency gets the same fee regardless of how long it takes to fill a position. In many cases the estimated fee (usually based on the position’s salary) is typically (pre)paid in three 30-day installments. Retained searches are best used for senior-level management positions where there are fewer candidates in the market and/or when the search needs to be very confidential.
  • When using Contingency Placement the recruiter represents various candidates and presents them to the organization for consideration. Under this model the recruiter is only paid if one of their candidates is hired and their placement fee is typically 20-30% of the position’s salary. A contingency recruiter may have relationships with multiple companies, usually in the same industry, and will present their candidates to as many companies as possible.
  • With Outsourced Recruiting you engage a recruiter to work with your staff to fill your specific positions according to your needs on an hourly basis. This recruiter might only source and screen candidates, or they may be involved in interviewing and making the final offer. This model allows for an hourly rate to be paid for all recruitment activities and allows for the most flexibility. You only pay for the time the recruiter works for you.

If you have the time and expertise in-house to do the hiring in an efficient and legal manner, it may be more cost effective to use your own staff. However, if your needs seem to ebb and flow, you don’t have the internal resources, your position(s) are confidential, you have a large volume of open positions needing to be immediately filled or you aren’t sure you have the latest and greatest knowledge (both in terms of hiring expertise and the legalities of hiring), it may make sense to outsource your recruitment to save time, money, and even avoid potential legal risks. No matter what you decide, track your recruitment expenses so you are aware of your costs from one hire to the next and can determine if you are making the best decisions for recruitment AND retention.

And of course, Strategic HR knows that each hiring situation is unique, and offers a variety of hiring options to address hiring needs individually, including the three options above.