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Hiring The Best In Sales Employees October 4, 2013

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, Applicant Tracking System, HR Tips, human resources.
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When it comes to hiring sales employees, you should always be looking at those who have a proven track record of being able to sell the product or service they have been tasked with selling. A resume is not always indicative of what a person has to offer your company. While it may be great that a person worked for another company for 10 years, were they consistently at the top for sales?

Forbes recently published an article containing the top 50 questions that you want to ask a sales professional. These can allow you to get in-depth to what a person is capable of and whether they will be able to perform for your company given the sales environment that you have fostered.

You don’t want to be overly firm or overly friendly during an interview, but you do want to make sure you get to ask at least some of these 50 questions to get to know the person sitting across from you a little more.

Top questions to ask include:

– What sales quotas are you used to being given??

– What is your sales technique?

– Can you provide an example of a contract negotiation that you completed?

– What market did you find to be the most profitable?

– What kinds of marketing methods have you used?

– What kinds of customer relationship marketing tools have you used?

– What was your average sale at your last position?

– What are your best traits as a sales representative?

Especially if you are not familiar with the company that a person worked for in the past, you need to be able to familiarize yourself with the selling standards. Did they work in a similar selling environment? Were the target demographics the same? Will their knowledge translate well into your company?

The more questions you ask, the more you can learn about the person sitting across from you (or over the phone). This will allow you to make better hiring decisions for your sales department and be able to meet your own goals within the company.

There are various tools that you can use to hire the best in sales employees beyond asking questions. An applicant tracking system can also allow you to organize applicants easier and be able to search within the resumes in order to find particular types of individuals – those that have used certain keywords or meet certain basic requirements.

A sales employee is the face of your business. They are responsible for interacting with consumers and getting the sales you need to stay financially stable. Hiring these employees is nothing to take lightly, so you need to use all the tools (and all the questions) you can.



What is the exact function and role of an HR department? October 6, 2011

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, Applicant Tracking System, EEOC, HR Tips, human resources.
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What exactly does your Human Resources Department do? This is a difficult question to answer, even for the owner of the company. Human Resources is one area that tends to evolve on its own, and everyone in that department is responsible for their own individual piece of that evolution. Some are employee oriented and work on programs and solutions that help the worker. Others are numbers crunchers, those who recommend cut-backs on personnel when it appears that a company might be on the verge of taking a loss. In some companies the terminations would be the responsibility of HR, or they could be a task reserved for management or ownership.

Regardless of the unique make-up of individual human resource departments, all of them have a few things in common. They are all responsible for recruiting and hiring and each needs to have their own applicant tracking system. That could be automated recruitment tracking software or manila file folders. If you’re still using the latter you might want to upgrade. Paper filing systems are not only obsolete – they’re inefficient. Once a folder is filed in the wrong spot it’s more often than not never discovered. Quality job applicants fall through the cracks like that all the time.

Most human resource departments also need to keep track of current regulations and required hiring quotas. There are compliance issues when it comes to hiring and employment. Foremost among these are EEOC and OFCCP, the federal guidelines that demand equal opportunity employment and enforce affirmative action. If you’re modernizing and installing a new job applicant tracking system, you might want to look into web based recruiting software that downloads regular updates in these areas when the laws change. Like paper filing systems, keeping track of these things without automation is an obsolete and dangerous practice.

Human Resource departments are also typically responsible for benefits administration. There are statutes in place on federal, state, and county levels that mandate these benefits in certain areas. Health care is one of the big ones, and perhaps the most publicized in the past few years, but there are others. Regulations and liability issues on retirement funds, direct deposit, and stock awards can get pretty complex. It’s up to the HR department to translate all those wordy rules and explain them to the average employee. Some companies even keep a lawyer or paralegal in HR specifically for that purpose. The legal presence is not a requirement, but it does help.

What else do human resources departments do? When new companies open and start to build, they put a lot of responsibility in the hands of human resources. As time goes by, those responsibilities are sometimes removed and passed on to other departments, but more often than not they stay with HR, making it one of the more complex and important departments in your company. Do you know what they do? If you’re a business owner or site manager and you don’t know, you might want to go down there and find out. That knowledge might come in handy at some point.

Create a hiring flow with Applicant Tracking March 7, 2011

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, applicant tracking software, corporate recruiting, human resources, small business.
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A company is as good as its workforce — the employees are the productivity backbone and lifeblood of any business and managers need the right people in the right positions for optimal performance. Logically, employers should do all they can to find the best talent available in the marketplace. As the qualities employers seek have multiplied, the process for recruiting suitable applicants and finding the best fit has become more technologically sophisticated.

An inefficient hiring process has considerable amount of overhead attached and can affect the bottom-line significantly. Any business trying to increase the efficiency and efficacy of their HR department can streamline their hiring process with applicant tracking software (ATS). These applications help automate administrative tasks while bringing the benefits of transparency and collaboration to decision-making. Recruitment software makes the process simpler and more cost-effective while helping companies sort through suitable candidates quicker and at a low cost.

The system follows a particular workflow which can often be customized to a company’s changing needs. The front end of an applicant tracking software can consist of a dedicated website or a sub-domain of company website. This portal is where openings can be listed and candidates can post their resumes. Resumes can also be imported from databases on affiliated online job boards. Resumes then go through multiple checks against skill requirements and job descriptions at company. Powerful search algorithms identify attractive candidates from the available data. The next important feature in the system facilitates communication to selected candidates on their selection and schedules probable dates for interviews or other preliminary steps. Interview management including pre-screening questionnaires, FAQ documents and resource allocation are managed with a great deal of automation. Post-interview, desirable candidates are again informed about their status and provided with next steps leading towards an offer.

Automated applicant tracking helps both the employer and jobseeker connect faster. Sophisticated search and aggregated business intelligence data speeds up assessment and considerably reduces turnaround time. This helps candidates know quickly if they are actually being considered for the job. An automated system also flattens the playing field for all applicants. The software makes decisions purely on the merits of the resume. While resume data is not the only criterion, it provides an important foundation for keeping the process quantifiable and ethical. This systemic transparency eliminates some of the “who you know” aspects of landing a job.  Storage and retrieval of applicant information is also important. This information has a shelf life and can be expensive to obtain anew for every company opening. The ability of the system to identify previously suitable candidates at a later date is invaluable.

As companies become more competitive over resources, the use of applicant tracking software has become a business necessity. There are many Enterprise, SaaS (Software as a Service) and open-source software applications on the market differentiated by company size, feature variation, and level of customization. As companies continue to realize that their human capital is more precious than any other, the care and administration of new hires will continue to evolve resulting in better choices and better long-term employee relationships.


Silicon Valley Talent Acquisition of Note November 19, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, human resources, Talent.
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We hear about it in the news every so often out here in Silicon Valley: a big player at Google has left for Facebook.  Or a Yahoo executive has been seduced by Microsoft.  Or some perky young startup has snatched a head developer from a venerable software giant.

Silicon Valley’s human resources arena, ripe with star engineers and executives, is  like a day time soap opera, full of unexpected surprises and shocking betrayals.  Every time a transfer of talent occurs, juicy questions immediately begin to pop up surrounding the jump.  Were they abused at the first company?  Were they offered a huge salary?  Who got screwed?

I’d like to take an overview of several high profile transfers of talent that have occurred in Silicon Valley over the past decade.  Each one is a soap opera in its own right and has in some way affected the fertility of the Valley’s technological breeding grounds.  If I leave any big ones out, be sure to contribute your own top Silicon Valley talent transfers.

Tim Armstrong, Google to AOL:  This shocking transfer occurred in March, 2009, when AOL abruptly fired two head executives and hired Google’s sales boss, Tim Armstrong.  Armstrong had joined Google back in 2000, when the company’s ad sales were minimal and it was still in stiff competition with competitors like Yahoo and MSN. Flash forward eight years and Google is bringing in nearly $21 billion in Ad revenue per year and dominates a majority percentage of the internet search market.

The acquisition of Armstrong signifies a change in branding and corporate goals for AOL, as it continues to move away from its past as a ISP towards a future in digital media and advertising.

Sheryl Sandberg, Google to Facebook:  Sheryl Sandberg served as Google’s VP of Global Online Sales before being snatched away by a hungry startup called Facebook in March of 2008.  Sandberg’s departure marked the end of Google’s ‘super growth spurt’, which was capped with a $747 share price a few months prior.

It was rumored that Facebook’s young CEO Mark Zuckerburg first met Sandberg at a Christmas party, and was impressed.  Soon after she left to become Facebook’s COO, which at the time was still a refreshingly new start up (and had a $15 billion dollar valuation).

Josh Elman, Facebook to Twitter:  Although Facebook’s former platform manager isn’t as a huge name, his new home at Twitter speaks volumes to the current ‘Twitter-mania’ that Silicon Valley is going through.  Facebook and Twitter are currently in a war (with Twitter having the upper hand) for the ‘real-time’ web.  Elman’s savvy on how people connect and communicate in real time is surely a gain for Twitter’s growing empire.

Vic Gundotra, Microsoft to Google: Microsoft’s 15 year platform evangelist, Vic Gundotra, broke the breach and went to Google in June, 2006.  This was at the height of Microsoft’s Silicon Valley envy, particularly the Redmond giant’s jealousy of Google’s growing search engine dominance.  Ever since, Microsoft has been hot on Google’s tail – most recently launching it’s ‘Bing’ search engine, which surprisingly has the beginnings to usurp Google’s hot streak.

So what does the future hold for Silicon Valley?  While some big players in talent acquisition have emerged, there is always a hotbed of hungry start ups that have proved time and again that they compete with the big boys.  Although many of these start ups don’t yet have the hiring resources and clout of the Googles and Facebooks, they are fast moving, ambitious, and have products that are set to change the world.   Armed with the right tools, such as cost effective Applicant Tracking software, many of these small companies may soon make an apperance on the soap opera that is, Silicon Valley Hiring.

Essential online business software for startups May 27, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant management, applicant tracking, business software, enterprise software, human resources, recruiting software, small business.
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free businessYou’ve decided to take the plunge.  Finally go off the deep end.    You swing open the door to your manager’s office, walk back to your desk and begin to sweat.  A cocktail of stress and jubilation spills down your body from head to toe.   Your feet start to move and then you are walking, out the door, down the elevator, into the city, and then out into the world.  You’ve decided to start your own business- escape the grind and finally pursue your dreams.     You’re free.  You’re screwed.

Then comes the details.  You need to strategize – figure out what needs to be done to get it rolling.   What kind of paperwork do you need to fill out?  How are you going to find your employees- designers, developers, sales, recruiters?  Where will your office be?  Where can you find advice from those who have already gone through this chaos?  What if you have a patent to submit?  How will you collaborate with your contractors?  How can you keep track of money, prepare for taxes?  What about business cards, business plans, PR initiatives and exit strategies?

These are just a fraction of the questions a small business owner needs to answer when forming a start up.   Fortunately, there are a host of new and cutting edge Web 2.0 software tools that have been created to help answer these questions.  Today’s entrepreneur can utilize a variety of enterprise software applications that will help them get on their feet without giving away an arm and leg of their nest-egg.  I’ve created a list of some of my favorites- feel free to contribute with any others that you know of.

Basecamp: For your project management and collaboration needs, basecamp is a web tool that allows a small business to interface with clients and collaborators.  It has an incredibly intuitive UI that allows an entrepreneur to keep their head on straight while managing several projects at once.


Dropbox: A nifty web application that rids you of need to carry around USB flash drives or larger external hard drives.    Dropbox allows you to synchronize various computers to common accessible folders.   Its as easy as drag and drop, and allows several collaborators to share files wherever they are, without the hassle.


Google Docs: Google Docs provides a suite of online MS-office-esque applications that all are extremely accessible and easy to utilize.  Whether you want to create a spreadsheet that tracks potential clients, or an online word-doc business plan, Google Docs allows multiple collaborators to contribute simultaneously, instead of the tediously sending a document back and forth via email.


Odesk: Odesk is an online web tool that allows a small business employer to outsource work to freelancers around the world.  While an entrepreneur must be weary about those bidding to do work from overseas for a fraction of the cost, very often Odesk provides a great interface for a variety contract jobs.    The online application allows an employer to adeptly track their freelancers, from up-to-date progress updates to an actual live webcam feed of their hire.


LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the most popular and free social networking tool for business professionals.  You can essentially post your online resume and qualifications, as well as list your current business venture and why its great.  One useful feature on the social-networking side of things is the ability to get in touch with other local small business owners, who may have helpful advice for you.  It also provides a great forum to let your client’s tell the world about all the great work you’ve done for them through the recommendations engine.


Newton On Demand: Newton provides an online software service for your company’s recruiting and applicant tracking needs.   Easier to use than many of your favorite websites, Newton’s online recruiting software enables your entire hiring team to access, manage and share recruiting information across your entire company.  The great thing about this piece of software is that it is extremely intuitive to use, allowing hiring managers and recruiters to easily collaborate from wherever they are.


Zazzle: Whether you want to design your company’s business cards, coffee mugs, or kickball Tees, Zazzle provides a great online tool for enterprise branding.   Although things like these may seem ephemeral when trying to make deadlines, some branding can go along way for your small business identity and marketing.


Twitter: If getting some attention in your niche is what your small business needs- Twitter is a great tool to keep fans, clients and family alike updated with the latest news.  If utilized effectively, Twitter can be a modern day PR agency, minus the headache of management and associated costs.


QuickBooks:  This time-tested financial software package is still as relevant as ever.   I recommend getting set up with QuickBooks from day one to track every dollar going in and out of your business.  The intuitive interface and online access makes it a breeze to create invoices, track payments and manage your small business expenses.


Is Oracle recruiting MySQL software into its empire? April 24, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, enterprise software, human resources, Oracle, recruiting software, Sun.
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With Oracle’s recent $7.38 billion dollar buyout of Sun Microsystems, some new product recipes are bound to end up on the fattened company’s revisited menu.   New head chef Larry Ellison is now directing the flavor of Sun’s software products, and some people are concerned for possible drastic changes, especially during this economic recession and the necessity for Oracle to bring in new channels of revenue.  One possible change-of-course could be converting Sun’s incredibly popular MySQL to a pay-for Software, which would bring thousands of businesses and software developers to their feet in protest.

MySQL software allows people and companies alike to access and manage their website databases.  MySQL is open source software, which means people can download it free of charge as well as access and contribute to the software’s code.   To date, there have been over 11 million installations of the product, including high profile use by companies like Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.  In the past, Sun has only marginally monetized MySQL through paid offerings like software updates and extended product support.

Ellison and Oracle could tap into the huge MySQL userbase as a new profit channel by converting it to enterprise software – charging customers through a licensing fee .   This could simultaneously provide a gargantuan influx of revenue to Oracle, as well as alienate millions of open-source customers who currently rely on the software.  It seems like a drastic strategy, however, the current economic recession could call for Oracle’s management to search for extreme ways to prepare for future leaks in revenue.  Although Oracle has so far remained relatively unscathed by the economic depression, their buyout of Sun is clearly forward thinking to potential future hardships.

Ellison has been known to be quite the staunch competitor and would not necessarily let the alienation of current MySQL users deter him from a new business opportunity.   With a net worth of approximately $27 billion, Ellison has been known for his hard-nosed leadership, obsession with Samurai warrior culture, and refusal to take ‘no’ as an answer.  Whether it be a whale-sized luxury yacht, an unwelcome company buyout, or a change to MySQL’s monetization strategy- he most often gets what he wants.  Ellison was most aptly personified during Oracle’s hostile takeover of human resource and recruiting software company PeopleSoft in 2004, jokingly saying he’d shoot opposing CEO Craig Conway (rather than his dog).

Converting MySQL into a paid enterprise service may not be the best move for Oracle,  as there are several other open source competitors that current MySQL users could jump to.   PostrgreSQL is one such alternative that may welcome a MySQL paid solution, as they would surely gain a large customer influx.

Although transforming MySQL into a paid enterprise service would certainly push a large portion of the current userbase away, there would also be some who would likely stay with the service, even if meant a fee.   Many MySQL users have a brand affiliation with the software as well as a deep familiarity with utilizing it.

It is pretty uncertain what would happen if Ellison and Oracle took MySQL in this new direction- although during the current times, anything is possible.

5 Concepts for Next-Generation Applicant Tracking and Recruiting Software March 25, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant management, applicant tracking, human resources, recruiting software.
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1093369_business_shadowIt’s time to rethink how we gauge our applicant tracking and recruiting software.  In the past, companies have touted a system that can ‘blast’ to thousands of candidates and find a needle in the haystack.  This is an old and out-dated way of ‘recruiting thought’.  True recruiting efficiency will come from applicant management software that promotes teamwork and collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters.  Without further ado, enjoy:

1)   Rethink Critical Features: While the oft-cited “-ations” (e.g, customization, integration, etc.) of software are important features to consider, great recruiting and applicant tracking software will focus on some of the “idities” first. Next-generation systems will be designed with a focus on the capability, rapidity and fluidity of new user adoption. The Applicant Tracking System you want should be designed with a clear understanding that people, not technology, drive the success of recruiting. A rethink of its critical features leads to only one conclusion: it should make the process of hiring people easier for other people to accomplish. Choosing recruiting software that is not designed to motivate its users to regularly log in and interact with it can very much be like buying a nifty electronic gadget but not bothering to the get batteries for it.

2)   Rethink the Problem: In “Money Ball” Ken Lewis premises that the conventional baseball wisdom was flawed: the stats that the baseball insiders used for measuring individual success didn’t equate to team success. He turned out to be right.  The conventional promise of recruiting software is to solve hiring by getting more candidates. This relic from the days of unsearchable paper resumes and classified ads is a recipe for a high strikeout ratio and the only occasional home run. Having millions of candidates doesn’t make hires. Blasting emails to your contacts doesn’t make hires. Teamwork, collaboration, engaged hiring managers and efficient recruiters makes hires.

3)   Rethink Immediate Benefits:
Many of today’s recruiting software systems are plump with features designed to meet the specific and varied needs of HR Professionals, yet most of these “innovations” have had very little impact on improving the actual process of filling a position. Simply put, many of the recent innovations in the recruiting software industry have been nothing more than marketing traps for the buyers of recruiting software. When considering what recruiting software to purchase, don’t focus exclusively on features that will benefit the recruiting department or HR.  Instead, remember that there is another entire half of the recruiting supply chain, the hiring manager and business user- the customer.  Focus on selecting a system with innovations that enable all users, from recruiter to hiring manager, to hire people better, easier, faster, and smarter than the way your company is currently doing it. Any additional features are—of course—nice, but make sure you don’t get an ATS that puts the feature cart in front of the recruiting horse.

4)   Rethink Rocket Science:
The hiring process for most people involved in hiring can be distilled into a simple “Yes/No” decision.  So, take a good, long look at your current/potential applicant tracking system vendor.  Has it taken this very simple decision process and made it unnecessarily complicated? Great recruiting software shouldn’t take Rocket Science.

5)   Rethink Implementation and Training: Besides a Recruiter, the act of hiring is not the main career focus of any other employee in a company. Next generation software providers are creating products that are simple to choose, use and deploy. While recruiters may, over time, become accustomed to even the most complicated and unintuitive systems, hiring managers and executives never give these systems a second chance.