Tag Archives: talent

Amazon, Intel, NBCUniversal spill buying secrets at HR Tech 2018

LAS VEGAS — Amazon’s talent acquisition organization has more than 3,500 people, including 2,000 recruiters, and is very interested in testing out new technology. That is probably welcome news to vendors here at HR Tech 2018. But Amazon and other big HR technology users warned against being dazzled by vendors’ products and recommended following a disciplined and tough evaluation process.

“I think it’s important to stay abreast with what’s happening in the market,” said Kelly Cartwright, the head of recruiting transformation at Amazon. “I’m really, really passionate about doing experiments and pilots and seeing whether or not something can work,” she said, speaking on a talent acquisition technology panel at HR Tech 2018.

It’s important to “block out time and take those [vendor] calls and listen to what those vendors have to say because one of them actually might have a solution for you that can be a game changer,” Cartwright said.

A warning about new HR tech

But Cartwright also had a clear warning for attendees at the HR Tech 2018. It won’t help to make the investment in a new technology until “you really clarify” what it is you want to use it for, she said.

What has to happen first in investigating HR trends and new technologies is to “start with a clear problem that you’re trying to solve for,” Cartwright said. She illustrated her point with example questions: Is the problem improving diversity in the pipeline? Or is it ensuring that there are enough potential candidates visiting your recruiting website?

Endorsing this approach was Gail Blum, manager of talent acquisition operations at NBCUniversal, who appeared with Cartwright on the panel.

Blum said NBCUniversal may not always have the budget for a particular new HR technology, but vendors increasingly are offering free pilots. Companies can choose to take a particular problem “and see if that new tool or vendor has the ability to solve that,” she said.

Attendees walk through the expo area at the 2018 HR Technology Conference
New HR tech is in abundance at the 2018 HR Technology Conference & Expo

New tech that doesn’t integrate is next to useless

Critical to any new HR technology is its ability to integrate with existing talent systems, such as an applicant tracking system, Blum said. She wants to know: Will the system have a separate log-in? “That’s always something that we ask upfront with all of these vendors.”

“If you are requiring everyone to have to go to two different systems the usage probably isn’t going to be great,” Blum said, who said that was their experience from some previous rollouts. If the systems don’t integrate, a new technology addition “isn’t really going to solve your problem in the end,” she said.      

There was no disagreement on this panel at HR Tech 2018 about the need to be rigorous with vendors to avoid being taken in by a shiny new technology.

We ask really invasive questions of the vendors.
Allyn Baileytalent acquisition capability adoption transformation leader, Intel

If Intel is going to partner with a talent vendor “it’s a long-term play,” said Allyn Bailey, talent acquisition capability adoption transformation leader at the chipmaker.

“We ask really invasive questions of the vendors,” Bailey said. “The vendors really hate it when we do it,” she said.

But Bailey said they will probe a vendor’s stability, their financing and whether they are positioning themselves to gather some big-name customers and then sell the business. “That freaks me out because my investment with that vendor is around that partnership to build a very customized solution to meet my needs,” she said. 

TechTarget, the publisher of SearchHRSoftware, is a media partner for HR Tech 2018.

Recruiting on LinkedIn adds analytics and pointed questions

It will be easier for someone recruiting on LinkedIn to poach talent once the social network giant releases its new analytics platform near the end of September. This may seem startling, but LinkedIn is not shying away from this outcome.

The platform, LinkedIn Talent Insights, is intended to simplify the ability of recruiters to get competitive intelligence and target potential candidates. Users will be able to look at, for instance, the number of software engineers employed by a firm, parse it down by city, see the growth in hiring and note the attrition rate.

In beta testing for LinkedIn Talent Insights, some of the participating users were able to identify firms in some markets that have people with sought-after skill sets, such as software engineers, and then target them. The workers can then be identified using tools for recruiting on LinkedIn.

Poaching talent questioned

Eric Owski, the head of product for Talent Insights at LinkedIn, outlined the forthcoming tool at the recent Society for Human Resource Management conference in Chicago. Before his audience, he used a live demo to demonstrate, in minutes, how to assemble a competitive analysis.

During an audience Q&A, one woman in attendance asked Owski about the ethics of using this analytics tool to raid a competitor.

The world is becoming more transparent.
Eric Owskihead of product for Talent Insights, LinkedIn

The attendee asked: “Does that set up an environment for poaching talent?” And then she immediately answered her own question. “I think the answer is yes. And so why would I sign off on that?”

Owski agreed that using the new tool for recruiting on LinkedIn made poaching possible but argued that there was nothing wrong with making this data available.

Internally, the LinkedIn team on the project had many “philosophical” discussions about the use of this data, Owski said. But the team concluded that “the world is becoming more transparent,” and “very sophisticated teams at large companies were able to figure out a lot of the calculations that we’re making available in this product,” he said. 

“We think by packaging it up nicely, it levels the playing field,” Owski said. “We feel like we’re on safe ground.”

LinkedIn draws line on available data

But LinkedIn is drawing a line on what data it makes available.

Owski said LinkedIn can determine with up to 93% accuracy the gender diversity of workers at a firm by analyzing the first name. But the company isn’t making company-specific gender data available in the search tool because it is “very highly sensitive data” that can open up questions of discrimination. LinkedIn will make that information available at a market or broader level.

LinkedIn Talent Insights uses data from its 560 million global members. The site has 15 million open jobs at any given time and some 23,000 standardized job titles that it recognized. The analytics platform is global and not dependent on government data, Owski said.

The tool’s ease of use was a key point for Owski. The interface appeared to be no more complicated than the advanced search feature on Google. It asked the user to input skills to include and exclude job title, location and industry. It then quickly produced a list of firms with employees who have those skills, hiring trends and attrition rate.

One attendee, Kevin Cottingim, senior vice president of HR at Employbridge, a staffing firm, said in an interview he was “excited” about trying the analytics platform for recruiting on LinkedIn.

Cottingim said his firm has 500 branches around the country and the recruiting analytics tool will help them understand if there are more positions available than candidates in any given market. With that data, he can strategize his plans for more targeted advertising, as well as consider paying a salary premium.

In terms of seeing the attrition rates at other firms, Cottingim said, “I would love to be able to benchmark that against my competitors.”

Quality of data questioned

Some in the audience raised questions about the quality of the data, and whether, for instance, profile changes are a good enough indicator of attrition. An attendee asked if LinkedIn continued to appeal to a full demographic range of people, particularly millennials.

Owski said there’s a potential for noise in the data, but he believes they have enough representation of professionals to “cancel out the noise.”

As far as competitors to LinkedIn, Owski said, unlike Facebook, it doesn’t have Snapchat-type rivals. Some industry observers believe Snapchat, which tends to appeal to younger users, is a potential Facebook threat. Owski’s point is that LinkedIn doesn’t have similar competitors.

Product pricing will be available in July, and the vendor may bundle LinkedIn Talent Insights for people who are already recruiting on LinkedIn. An upcoming feature will be an API that allows users to take the data and use it in their own dashboards.

Another attendee, Melvin Jones, the workforce strategy branch chief at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the LinkedIn Talent Insights tool may help the agency improve the targeting of its job advertising and figure out what job markets are best for certain skills. 

It will also enable the agency to know how private sector firms view NOAA’s workforce, Jones said, in an interview.

“It’s good to have validation of the data and see how other people are viewing us,” Jones said. “In military terms, it’s good to see what the enemy sees.”

AU combines talent analytics with HR management

The use of talent analytics may be creating a need for HR staff with specialized training. One source for these skills is programs that offer master’s degrees in analytics. Another may be a new program at American University that combines analytics with HR management.

American University, or AU, is making talent analytics, which is also called people analytics, a core part of the HR management training in a new master’s degree program, said Robert Stokes, the director of the Master of Science in human resource analytics and management at AU.

Stokes said he believes AU’s master’s degree program is unique, “because metrics and analytics run through all the courses.” He said metrics are a part of that training in talent management, compliance and risk reduction, to name a few HR focus areas.

Programs that offer a master’s degree in analytics are relatively new. The first school to offer this degree was North Carolina State University in 2007. Now, more than two dozen schools offer similar programs. There are colleges that offer talent analytics training, but usually as a course in an HR program.

These master’s programs produce graduates who can meet a broad range of business analytics needs, including talent analytics.

“We definitely have interest from companies in hiring our students for their HR departments,” said Joel Sokol, the director of the Master of Science in analytics program at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  “It’s not the highest-demand business function that our students go into, of course, but it’s certainly on the list,” he said in an email.

Sokol also pointed out that one of the program’s advisory board members is a vice president of HR at AT&T.

Analytics runs through all of HR

The demand for analytics-trained graduates is high. North Carolina State, for instance, said 93% of its master’s students were employed at graduation and earned an average base salary of just over $95,000.

Interest in master’s degree analytics training follows the rise of business analytics. The interest in employing people with quantitative talent analytics skills is part of this trend.

What HR organizations are trying to do is discover “how to drive value from people data,” said David Mallon, the head of research for Bersin by Deloitte, headquartered in New York.

“It wouldn’t shock anybody” if a person from supply chain, IT or marketing “brought a lot of data to the table; it’s just how they get things done,” Mallon said. “But in most organizations, it would be somewhat shocking if the HR person brought data to the conversation,” he said.

Mallon said he is seeing clear traction by HR departments — backed up by its just-released research on people analytics maturity — to deliver better analysis. But he said only about 20% are doing new and different things with analytics.  “They have data scientists, they have analytics teams, [and] they’re using new kinds of technologies to capture data, to model data,” he said.

The march to people analytics

“Conservatively, our data shows that at least 44% of HR organizations have an HR [or] people analytics team of some kind,” Mallon said. The percentage of departments with at least someone responsible for it — even part time — may be as high as 67%, he said.

The AU program’s first class this fall has about 10 students, and Stokes said he expects it to grow as word about the program spreads. Most HR programs that provide analytics training do so under separate courses that may not be integrated with the broader HR training, he said.

The intent is to use analytics and metrics to measure and make better decisions, Stokes said. An organization, for instance, should be able to quantify how much fiscal value is delivered by a training program. This type of people analytics may still be new to many HR organizations, which may rely on surveys to assess the effectiveness of a training program.

Organizations that are more mature aren’t just using surveys to try to determine employee engagement, Mallon said. They may be analyzing what’s going on in internal and external social media.

“They’re mining — they’re watching the interactions of employees in collaboration platforms and on your intranet,” Mallon said. “They’re bringing in performance data from existing business systems like ERPs and CRMs,” he said.

The best-performing organizations are using automation and machine learning to handle the routine reporting to free up time for higher-value research, Mallon said. But they are also using these tools “to spot trends that they didn’t even know were there,” he said.

Cybersecurity talent shortage: Is recruiting from IT the golden ticket?

Cyberattacks continue to make headlines, and a cybersecurity talent shortage could add fuel to the fire: The Information Systems Audit and Control Association, or ISACA, a nonprofit information security advocacy group, forecasts a global shortage of 2 million cybersecurity professionals by 2019.

The cybersecurity industry is growing exponentially, but cyber is relatively new from a higher-education perspective, said Kathie Miley, COO at Cybrary, based in Greenbelt, Md., during a panel discussion on the global cybersecurity talent shortage at the 2017 ISSA International Conference in San Diego. Formal cybersecurity schools and certifications have been around only for a short time and are still very expensive, Miley said.

“People who aren’t having their training paid for by their employer simply can’t afford it,” she said. “It was inevitable that we were going to face this shortage without a really clear-cut way to providing them with those skills and practical work experiences that employers are expecting today.”

To address the cybersecurity talent shortage, one of the best places to recruit is from the current IT staff, Miley suggested. Organizations should be transitioning IT professionals, like system administrators, network administrators and software developers, into cybersecurity roles, she said. The techniques required to be a cybersecurity expert call for practical experience in IT, she explained.

“A lot of it is administrative, a lot of it is operational, and a lot of it is network and application development. If we have [those] people who fundamentally have that foundation already built, then it’s not too far to get them up to the next level to become cyber experts,” Miley said.

A strong foundation in IT is critical to understanding the core technologies and underlying security principles, said Travis Rosiek, chief technology and strategy officer at BluVector, based in Arlington, Va.

Rosiek said he sees value in transitioning existing technical personnel to security roles, mostly because they have the organizational knowledge of how systems work, where there is likely going to be a problem and how things can be remotely accessed. This gives them an insight into how an adversary might exploit or use existing tool sets for an attack, he added.

It was inevitable that we were going to face this shortage without a really clear-cut way to providing them with those skills and practical work experiences that employers are expecting today.
Kathie MileyCOO at Cybrary

“Adversaries are becoming more stealthy and leveraging underlying IT systems like PowerShell, which system administrators typically use, making it much harder to identify [any deviations]. Having that understanding from a good IT background is therefore helpful,” Rosiek said.

But IT staff often still harbor a negative perception about security professionals, which might pose as a hurdle when encouraging a transition into security roles, panelists warned.

“People think we are the people that say no; we only say no when it needs to be that way,” said David Goldsmith, CTO at U.K.-based NCC Group. “Security is about enabling; the reason why organizations have a security team is so that you can get business done.”

To convey the value that cybersecurity professionals bring to an organization, senior security leaders should be vocal about their efforts and better articulate the benefits of risk management strategy, Goldsmith suggested. Organizations need to garner support from the executive leadership to establish a sound cybersecurity program and a top-down culture of security, panelists added.

Another effective way to address the cybersecurity talent shortage is instilling an interest in cybersecurity among the younger generation, panelists said. For example, there should be more emphasis on making STEM programs attractive to students, panelists stressed.

“We have to make sure the up-and-comings know that the job exists,” Miley said. “I think we all do a terrible job in communicating what cybersecurity is, and we overcomplicate it … we drive them away from cyber instead of letting them know of the value that we are adding to the world.”

Employers pull back on hiring of tech talent for H-1B jobs

U.S. employers’ hiring of tech talent for H-1B jobs slowed significantly after the November 2016 election because of uncertainty about the fate of the visa program for skilled foreign workers.

That insight and others came from a new report from Hired, a job marketplace software vendor, which sifted through hundreds of thousands of data points from companies’ requests for interviews with candidates for H-1B jobs. The company also surveyed 362 tech workers.

H-1B revamp

Four months after he took office, President Donald Trump announced plans to reform the lottery system used to award H-1B visas to give preference to the most highly skilled workers such as software developers and engineers.

While no changes have yet resulted from Trump’s executive order directing four federal agencies to report on how to tighten the H-1B program, uncertainty immediately hit tech hiring for H-1B jobs, according to the Hired research.

The San Francisco-based vendor flips the job-seeking process by providing employers with top candidates whom companies then request interviews from. Hired also releases periodic reports based on its data, such as one on the impact on hiring due to the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote.

H-1B jobs down after election

The company’s H-1B data showed that foreign tech workers’ interview request rate dropped in the fourth quarter of 2016, just after the November election.

Interest in tech H-1B jobs rebounded in the first two quarters, though, likely because while there is still uncertainty about the future of immigration reform, things have stabilized to some extent, Hired CEO Mehul Patel said.

Mehul Patel, HiredMehul Patel

In any case, Hired’s data analysis also shows a 46% decrease in companies’ interest in tech talent candidates for H-1B jobs from first quarter 2016 to first quarter 2017 and a 37% decrease from second quarter 2016 to second quarter 2017.

“We were really looking for a before and after view of what happened with the election,” Patel told SearchHRSoftware. “What we saw already, without the regulations even in place, was a massive drop in interest in foreign workers by U.S. companies.”

Some agreement on H-1B jobs

At the same time, in a companion survey of 362 tech workers in June, Hired hit on a few somewhat counterintuitive insights.

We were really looking for a before and after view of what happened with the election. What we saw already, without the regulations even in place, was a massive drop in interest in foreign workers by U.S. companies.
Mehul PatelCEO, Hired

Strikingly, while Trump’s hire-Americans-first stance has informed his position on H-1B reform, the tech worker survey found that most American tech workers think immigration brings more innovation and needed diversity to the technology sector.

Meanwhile, the survey revealed that non-U.S. citizen tech workers overwhelmingly (75%) said there is not enough qualified tech talent in the U.S. to meet demand — the main rationale behind the H-1B program.

However, only 24% of American workers reached the same conclusion, though 48% of the American respondents said they didn’t know.

On the issue of whether the H-1B visa program as currently structured is working, U.S. and foreign workers concurred to some degree, with sizeable percentages of both groups saying the program is dysfunctional.

H-1B dysfunction

A key critique of the way H-1B jobs are apportioned through the visa lottery, from the political right and left, is that big outsourcing companies that mostly supply lesser-skilled workers have been favored by the process. That has come at the expense of highly skilled workers the program was originally intended to supply.

In the Hired poll, 44% of U.S. workers said the program isn’t working, compared to 64% of foreign workers who said the same.

Tech talent undersupply

Pitched debate over H-1B, meanwhile, is occurring amid the backdrop of what is widely seen as a major shortage of U.S. technology workers that is expected to mushroom by 2024.

Because of that tech talent pinch, support for the H-1B program has been strong from Silicon Valley tech giants like Google and Facebook to big employers in manufacturing, finance and retail.

“You’ve got the long-term issue of chronic undersupply of technology workers,” Patel said. “The U.S. can solve that in one of two ways. One is a long-term fix with education policy and more homegrown talent, but that’s multigenerational and takes many years.”

“The second, and this is how the U.S. has traditionally handled this, is immigration policy,” Patel added. “But if you clamp down on foreign workers, you do end up exacerbating this issue.”