Why You Need Applicant Tracking Software that Integrates with Employee Assessments

In the Human Resources profession, what happens when you’re strapped for time, working in software silos and unclear about which fire to put out next? In my experience, work culture suffers. Those tasked with traditional HR responsibilities, including some smaller business owners, are all too often drowning in administrative drudgery instead of working on strategic workforce initiatives and championing culture.

It’s not that you don’t appreciate the critical role that employee assessments play in the hiring and succession planning processes, but it can be one more hurdle to overcome when assessment technology lives outside of your applicant tracking software (ATS). What if you could streamline your talent acquisition process with hiring software that seamlessly integrates with a proven, well-respected and validated assessment tool?

In this blog, we’ll focus on the The Predictive Index® (PI) assessment and discuss some scenarios in which you may consider an applicant tracking system that integrates with PI, specifically. I’ll guide you through how the integration works within our hiring platform, HireCentric ATS, and introduce you to our PI Partner, ADVISA. We work with ADVISA to combine our recruiting technology with their expertise in interpreting and using The Predictive Index® to automate and improve the hiring process.

Watch assessment integration webinar

Overcoming HR Obstacles

Whether you are an HR department of one or a relatively small team, like it or not the business of human resources is often accompanied by unexpected fires. Time is at a premium…which means you need to move candidates through the hiring process efficiently.

In the age of “Big Data,” studying desirable behavioral traits for individuals in the same job category over time is essential to making sound hiring decisions in the future. Hopefully that isn’t news to you, but it is easier said than done when your candidates’ assessment results aren’t easily visible within your other recruiting tools. Plus, it’s even more challenging when business growth outpaces your organization’s prioritization of implementing smart technology.

If you’re like many of ExactHire’s clients, you wear many different hats in your human resources or recruiting role. While you’d love to have the time to scour every software application’s Knowledge Base to find answers, you don’t have time to do so. You need recruitment solutions that are easy to learn and intuitive.

Why Consider ATS Integration with The Predictive Index®?

As you likely already know, there are many applicant tracking solutions on the market, but what makes ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking software appealing is that it fully integrates with an employer’s Predictive Index® portal.

In our experience, PI assessment users are attracted to HireCentric ATS thanks to the ability to streamline the assessment invitation process from right within the ATS. Recruiters may invite job candidates to complete an assessment at the point of application or later in the process from the applicant record.

Employers are also pleased with the availability of integrated assessment launch options. HireCentric allows you to customize the delivery of the assessment invitation in two distinct ways:

  • Candidates may be invited to complete an assessment during the employment application process. HireCentric allows employers to have multiple application versions to accommodate different geographic locations, job levels and/or job categories. This level of customization offers employers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to crafting applications that are suited for different circumstances and built for conversion optimization.
  • Additionally, assessments may be reserved for use later in the hiring process. HireCentric allows employers to launch email invitations to invite select candidates to take the PI.

Employers also appreciate the simple way in which candidate assessment results are visible from within the HireCentric applicant tracking system. While a deeper dive is always an option from within the PI portal, it’s convenient to pull up a candidate’s PI placard directly from the applicant profile in HireCentric.

Assessment Integration Options and Considerations

Let’s dig into the options available to you for using HireCentric to invite candidates to take the PI. In this blog, I’m going to refer to the PI “Enterprise Plan,” as it is the only plan with open API access which allows candidate results to flow back into HireCentric ATS and be visible on the applicant record.

There are two primary options for inviting candidates to complete the PI. In the first method, you may include a link to begin the PI at the point of application. This occurs immediately after the candidate completes the HireCentric employment application questions, and it can be done with either a traditional one-step application or HireCentric’s popular two-step application option. This point of application approach is ideal if you want to assess all applicants as part of the initial screening process.

The other approach is to wait and manually invite only a portion of job candidates to complete the PI later in the hiring process.This may occur after the initial pre-screen, but before any in-person interviews. This option is worth consideration if you prefer to be selective and only ask final candidates to undergo the assessment process; or, if your employment application is already quite lengthy at the beginning of the hiring process.

The Predictive Index® only allows one assessment per user per company. Once an assessment is sent to an applicant in your ATS, then all job applications by that applicant will share the same assessment status and results.

How Does the HireCentric ATS and PI Assessment Integration Work?

Employment Application

Let’s take a closer look at what your applicants experience if you utilize the point of application option to present an invitation at the end of your employment application questions. In the following image, you see a glimpse of the mobile-responsive employment application that job applicants would complete just prior to starting the PI assessment.

Submit Application HireCentric | ExactHire

As you can see, questions are organized by category and navigable via the ribbon down the left side of the application. Question sections may be customized per organization and per job category within an organization. HireCentric applicant tracking software also has an option for a two-step application. Since this applicant has already completed all sections of the application, the next step is to select the “Submit” button.

Then, the applicant is presented with confirmation that the application questions are complete. The text at the top of the following image may be customized.

Start Predictive Index Assessment | HireCentric

The next step for the candidate is to start the assessment by clicking the button on the lower half of the screen. Once the applicant clicks the “Start” button, a new window will prompt the applicant to follow a link at the completion of an application.

PI Login Screen HireCentric | ExactHire

In the above image, you can see that the applicant’s name and email have “followed” him to The Predictive Index® site from the HireCentric ATS employment application. This means your candidate won’t have to re-enter this information to take the assessment–creating a more streamlined and positive application experience.

Manual Email Invitation

Now, take a look at the workflow for the other assessment invitation option. An Administrator or Manager-level user may easily manually send an assessment later in the hiring process by accessing an applicant’s record within HireCentric and clicking on the “Integrations” tab.

Integration Tab HireCentric Applicant Tracking

Within the Integrations tab, you may click on the view button, and then a new tab will open within the browser to reveal this dashboard, where you may manually launch the assessment email invitation to the candidate by clicking the “Send Assessment” button.

View Button HireCentric Applicant TrackingSend Assessment from HireCentric ATS

Then, you may view the status of an applicant’s assessment by visiting the PI dashboard within HireCentric. This is located in an applicant’s profile in the “Integrations” tab.
In this image, note that the assessment has already been sent (as in the case of a manual invitation), but is not yet complete.

Pending Assessment HireCentric ATS | ExactHire

Once a candidate’s results are in, you may view them in the PI Dashboard within HireCentric. PI Patterns and Placards can be viewed within the ATS using the buttons indicated in this screenshot. For a deeper dive, the “View Report” and “View Profile” links will open a new tab and take you to the login page of your own PI portal.

Result Buttons PI ExactHire ATS

What Do Assessment Results Look Like Within the ATS?

Here’s a look at how the PI patterns populate within the dashboard area within the HireCentric applicant tracking system when you select one of the buttons.

PI Results Within HireCentric ATS

At the bottom of each pattern, a link allows you to open a pattern in a new tab where you may print or save the pattern. HireCentric’s integration with PI saves you the time it would otherwise take to log into a separate portal to review assessment results. This is critical when you have many jobs open and are screening multiple candidates. Plus, HireCentric’s interface is easy to understand, so you can find the results for various applicants in a cinch.

PI Plan Considerations

There are two plan options available from The Predictive Index®–Enterprise and Professional. While both plans offer unlimited usage of the assessment tool, in order to take advantage of the full integration between PI and HireCentric, your organization needs to use the Enterprise plan. This more flexible option allows the candidate’s results to flow back into the applicant tracking software thanks to the open API access which supports full software integration.

However, if your organization currently uses the Professional Plan instead, you may still include a link to invite candidates to complete the PI on the thank you page of your employment application. However, the results will not be visible within HireCentric. Additionally, the invitation link would have to be present on every application on every job listing. Unlike the Enterprise plan option, you cannot turn it on or off per job listing or application version.

You may also still use the manual email invitation option on the Professional plan. But again, results will not flow back into the applicant tracking system. Results would have to be reviewed within the PI portal only.

A Return on Your Investment

Take advantage of the integration between HireCentric applicant tracking system and PI to mitigate pain inflamed by

  • narrow staff bandwidth,
  • software application silos, and
  • no time to learn complex user interfaces.

HireCentric streamlines the invitation process for multiple job candidates, allows information to flow to and from the PI portal, and is easy to learn and use. And, HireCentric ATS is priced just right for small- and medium-sized employers with access fees starting at $120/month. The exact pricing for your organization would be determined by your number of current employees and how many employees you hire each year.

Explore Assessments

To learn more about assessments available from The Predictive Index®, contact our partner, ADVISA; or, connect with ExactHire and we’ll be happy to make an introduction.

Watch Assessment Integration Webinar | ExactHire

Job Applications and Sensitive Information

When an HR team is seeking the golden candidate for a vacant position that desperately needs to be filled, it is important that the employment application contains all the necessary items. These items will determine if the applicant is initially a good fit for the organization and should progress to next stages of the hiring process. Depending on the job and the organization, there are many key questions to answer and crucial information to collect from the applicant. Learning about the applicant’s skills, education background, ability to travel or relocate, general job schedule availability…those are all key, non-invasive questions that can help Human Resources decide whether to pursue an applicant further.

A Question You May Not Need

One question that is asked occasionally is, “Can a Social Security Number (SSN) be asked on a job application?”  ExactHire does not provide legal counsel, so any questions regarding SSN collection need to be directed to your company’s legal team, but the answer is technically, yes, a SSN can be collected on an employment application; however, it is highly recommended NOT to ask an applicant for this highly sensitive piece of personal information on the applicant’s initial application for multiple reasons…

  • SSNs are typically collected from an applicant in order to conduct a background check, which tends to be when an offer of employment is extended to an applicant.
  • SSNs may also be collected as part of the employee onboarding process, when applicants have formally become new employees.
  • In general, applicants understand that submitting an employment application does not indicate a promise or offer of employment, so there is greater hesitation by the applicants to complete an application for employment that initially asks for SSNs and/or DOBs. This results in a lower application completion rate for a company.
  • Applicants tend to have heightened fears of identity theft and general privacy concerns since they do not know the number of company employees who will be reviewing their submitted application with the SSN and/or DOB information readily accessible.

Assessing Your Needs

According to SHRM, there is no law that prohibits an employer from asking DOB; however, how the employer uses that information must be in accordance with the The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  In an extremely rare occasion, due to the nature of the position where there is a legal need for it, such as with driver and commercial transportation related job positions, SSNs might need to be collected at the time of application.  (Please consult your company’s legal team to determine your company’s eligibility for this.)  If so, some applicant tracking systems like HireCentric can support multiple applications so that you can have a position-specific employment application for use in special, rare cases where you might need to collect unique information such as SSNs.

If you feel there is a need to collect SSNs on the job application for purposes of background checking , answer this question:  Will you be conducting background checks on every applicant?  If not, it is highly recommended that you not collect the SSN from all applicants, as that puts a heightened responsibility on you and your team to limit access to the large volumes of applicants’ SSNs. Typically, the background check disclosure/consent is completed by the applicant once a job offer is made, so the company can then collect sensitive information (i.e. SSN) for a limited number of applicants. ExactHire offers the opportunity to integrate background checks within HireCentric ATS, so please let us know if you want to explore the benefits of this integration.

HireCentric Security Features

While HireCentric job applications are completed on a secure site, if your company decides to collect SSNs from every applicant, internally as a company, you and your executive leadership team will need to devise a thorough method of ensuring individuals who should not view SSNs do not see SSNs. This will help protect you and your company from potential legal action resulting from any improper use of the applicants’ personal information.

Even if you do not include a question about SSNs, nor plan on ever including a question of the sort, HireCentric offers the ability to make certain Standard Questions viewable to HireCentric Administrators only as a means to ensure sensitive questions have limited viewing access.  In the employment application’s Applicant Statement / Disclosure section, providing a thorough explanation of why SSN and/or DOB is collected in reference to particular legislation is strongly encouraged as a way to help explain to the applicant why this sensitive, personal information is being asked in the initial phase of job application without a pending job offer.

Building a Secure, Legal Hiring Process

In the HR world, legal adherence is a top priority.  You and your company’s legal team can create the internal process to recruit and retain talent that is best for your organization. For your employment needs, ExactHire offers a variety of options to help you and your team implement that internal process you construct and a support team that is ready and willing to help guide you with those solutions in your employment processes. For more information about any of our employment solutions or questions about HireCentric, please contact

Internal Job Board With HireCentric

There’s no question that the competition for good candidates has increased significantly over the last couple of years. There are stories daily regarding how difficult it is for many organizations to find enough qualified candidates for their openings. As this trend continues, employers have to continue to look for more creative ways to engage candidates and attract them for their openings.

One possible source for qualified candidates is your existing staff. Often, companies are interested in considering existing employees for openings. In many applicant tracking system environments, however, it can be challenging to visually separate internal and external candidates, if they all apply through the same career site. This creates confusion and often leads organizations to have internal candidates apply manually via emailed resumes.

However, with HireCentric applicant tracking software, we offer the ability to create a separate internal job listings page that is available only to your current staff members. This internal job listings page will have an address that is different from your external career site, and even offers the opportunity for you to utilize a different application format than you do for your external candidates. Below is a sample of an internal job board listing area:

As you list open positions, you’ll have the opportunity to determine whether they are made available to only external candidates (via your normal job listings area), to only internal staff (via the internal job listings area), or to both sites. In those instances where you’re accepting both internal and external candidates for openings, those internal candidates who have applied will be marked with an “I” when viewed alongside other candidates. Below is an example of how you may easily identify those internal candidates:

Best of all, the internal job board feature is available to you as a standard part of your ATS platform.

To learn more about this capability or to add this functionality to your current HireCentric site, please contact our support team by emailing

Can I Check the Status of My Employment Application? [VIDEO]

In this age of instant gratification, it’s natural for job applicants to want uber-prompt attention when it comes to knowing whether the employment application they submitted for your company’s position has made it through your screening process. And, even if you pride yourself on being ultra communicative to applicants regarding their fate in your hiring process, it never hurts to make additional strides in the proactive communication category.

In this ExactHire vlog, listen to Jessica Stephenson explain how you can introduce an element of applicant self-service by enabling candidates to check on the status of an employment application by logging into their profile provided by your HireCentric applicant tracking system.

ExactHire Vlog Applicant Status Codes

Video Transcript:

When it comes to screening employment applications, how long is your applicant status code list? Especially if you’re subject to compliance reporting, the list can get very long and specific. For example, noting the exact reasons why each candidate fails to meet minimum basic qualifications…experience, education, etc.

And, while you would want that level of detail for your internal status assignments, you wouldn’t need to share that with candidates externally.

What if you could introduce a self-service component that allows applicants to log into their profile and check on the status of their own job application? Well, you can…and the best part…you get to choose the public-facing label for each of your internal status codes. So, what you know as “Not Selected–Basic Qualifications–Experience” would simply show up as “Not Selected” to the candidate externally.

But think about the positive application of that feature…for what you use as “Sent to Hiring Manager” internally, you could more strategically rename that status code “Screened by HR–Sent to Hiring Manager” to serve as a positive reinforcement to candidates that would otherwise disengage without prompt feedback about their employment application. This tool can be a competitive advantage in this age of immediate feedback…as long as you screen your applications promptly.

If you’re interested in turning on this feature, the ExactHire Client Services team would love to help you. Please email them at Once enabled, Admin users will see a new field when adding or editing status codes called “Status Shown to Applicants.” Likewise, candidates, once they’ve logged into their HireCentric profile, will see a public-facing version of your internal status codes assigned to them.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Minimize Business Risk with HR Technology that Streamlines Recruiting

A clean work space is just one of the advantages HR technology can provide. Other goals of technology in business are to reduce costs by streamlining workflows, eliminating manual tasks, increasing accuracy and reducing labor. These concepts can apply to any employer and any discipline within that organization. Operations, accounting, human resources, etc. can all benefit from the advantages of technology.

Like most technology systems the concept of “garbage in, garbage out” applies. There is nothing automatic about technology. Solutions will only work well if the person inputting the data is doing a good job. Most technology in the workplace aims to either house data for quick reference, perform complex calculations and analysis, report on data, or eliminate transactional tasks. However, it still takes the human touch to leverage technology to its fullest.

HR Technology Solutions

In the world of human resources, enterprise-level technology often comes in the form of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), used to house and track large stores of information traditionally placed in a personnel file. On the other end of the spectrum, stand-alone software platforms that specialize in a specific aspect of human resources management (e.g. applicant tracking, employee onboarding, payroll, time and attendance, performance management and/or learning and development, etc.) will often cater to small- and medium-sized employers. Most HRIS solutions will boast an integrated approach that may meet all of an employer’s needs. However, there’s mixed opinions on any one solution providing all your needs–in a robust enough manner–and in an integrated fashion.

Another benefit of HR technology is that it can help you with compliance, record keeping and holding you true to certain processes that will ultimately reduce your risk of error. Human error in the HR world can lead to both compliance issues and poor decision making. This is especially true when it comes to hiring, as decisions are usually made on limited data that must be analyzed from multiple sources.

Fortunately, there are a number of HR technology solutions available that can reduce risk and streamline the recruiting effort. Luckily, using some of these technologies can result in quicker time-to-hire, better decision making and more accurate outcomes.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Application Tracking Systems are powerful tools that can both reduce risk and make the talent acquisition process more efficient and effective. As with any powerful technology solution, they are only as good as the user. The features a standard applicant tracking system can provide can sometimes be overwhelming if your technology partner is not focused on customized training and ongoing customer service. A seasoned recruiter with working experience of applicant tracking systems should be able to take advantage of these features fairly easily.

Easy application management

For starters, applicant tracking systems can streamline the hiring process by collating and storing applicant data in an easy to access and recall fashion. Often, an applicant tracking system will also allow you to search and filter applicants based on specific objective data. This can help with compliance as you take subjectivity out of the equation and base more of your decision on criteria being applied objectively to all applicants.

Compliant employment data

Other basic compliance assistance comes in the form of collecting EEO data and providing for the appropriate disclosures and releases to the applicant that may be required in your hiring process. The data from these forms and documents can be hidden from a hiring manager’s view while still maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements.

The ability to store and recall information in an applicant tracking system is one of the biggest benefits. No need to worry about retaining applicant records for a statutory length of time. Nor do you need to worry about printing all this information and keeping it in a file. Most applicant tracking systems will even allow you to purge applicant information of a certain age to keep your database clean.


There are a number of online assessments you can utilize in the hiring process to increase your odds of a successful hire and reduce your chances of a failed hire. These assessments can look at a number of things from identifying certain skills, the application of required knowledge as well as an overall personality inventory. Combining and using the results of these assessments can dramatically increase your ability to hire more effectively.

Personality assessments are one of the most useful tools in helping to identify information about a candidate that you may not be able to identify in a standard interview. Some of the benefits of personality assessments include the identification of work behaviors, personality traits and competencies. They can also provide an overall picture of how an individual may perform in your work environment and what type of conflict may ensue. When used correctly, assessments can paint a pretty good picture of an inevitable outcome.

You can reduce hiring risk by actually paying attention to the results of these assessments. Now, they aren’t an all inclusive decision making tool–and the law would agree. However, they are another set of valuable data that should be combined with all the other information you have gathered and used to make a more informed and accurate hiring decision.

Some of the more useful features of assessments are the ability for you to benchmark the results of an applicant against the results of some of your top performers in similar positions. After all, one of the main objectives of recruiting is to find people that are like your top performers so you can replicate that performance. Background and experience are only part of the equation.

Skill-based assessments are usually used in more technical roles and are structured as interactive tools aimed at identifying if an individual has the correct level of technical ability to perform successfully in the role. The best example of these types of assessments would be for software developers, graphic designers, etc. You would choose a solution that gives individuals a project that tracks certain metrics and results as they complete the project.

Another type of assessment, a knowledge assessment, can measure not only if an individual possesses a certain base of knowledge that you require, but can also apply it. Some employers who require a license or registration of some sort will use the fact that a candidate possesses the credentials as evidence enough that they can apply the knowledge. The trouble, is most credentialing programs do not test application of knowledge. As such, employers should seek solutions that measure an individual’s ability to actually apply this knowledge.

Assessments and applicant tracking systems are just two of the many HR technologies available to you, but they are two of the most commonly used in both reducing risk and improving results. ExactHire provides both solutions in an integrated fashion to help you achieve your compliance requirements and recruiting needs.

Applicant Tracking + Employee Assessments = HireCentric ATS

Looking for both solutions in one platform? Contact ExactHire to schedule a live demo of our HireCentric applicant tracking system with embedded employee assessments.


Photo Credit: Kelly Britto

Hiring Right – 10 Tips to Finding and Hiring the Right Employee

There is no magic approach to finding and hiring the right employee. However, there are some best practices you can implement that will increase your odds at success. Here are 10 tips to finding and hiring the right employee.

Make a Plan

The first step in any successful endeavor is to first get organized. Hiring is no different. If you fail to plan in the hiring process you plan to fail. Your plan needs to encompass a number of things. First and foremost, for which skills and experience are you hiring? Taking the approach of, “I’ll know it when I see it,” won’t work.

Start with a clearly defined and reviewed role description. This is what you are expecting the person to be able to do, so make sure your interviewing plan will identify his competency to do so. A formal plan will also help you avoid bias in the process, thus leading to a more successful hire and better results.

Identify Essentials

A big part of your plan is identifying the essential needs and distinguishing them from the nice to haves. The essentials are priority and as such need to remain the focus of the hiring process. You can identify the essentials if you stick to your plan and use the role description accordingly. These would be the core things the individual must do and be able to do to be successful. Don’t get lost in the illusion of the nice to haves.

To help identify whether applicants possess core essentials, set up job-specific screening questions in your applicant tracking system so that you may score and/or flag candidates based on their answers.

Sometimes you’ll identify the nice to haves and get fixated on them as you brainstorm how you can apply them. If they do not have all the essentials they won’t be successful and no amount of successful application of the nice to haves will make up for it.

Provide the Right Environment

The success of a hire goes well beyond the actual hiring process. You want that person to stay with your company as long as possible and perform the best he can, right? This means the right things have to continue to happen in order for that hire to be an ultimate success. Making sure the individual is aligned properly within the organization and environment will help ensure this success.

Start out by finding early wins for the new employee. This will help to build confidence and establish a supportive and rewarding environment. Be intentional about training hiring managers on this trait, and include it as a part of your strategic employee onboarding process. The more wins a new hire can rack up early on the more successful he will be in the long run within the organization.

Interview for Success

Interview success is bolstered by making a plan. But it goes beyond that. You must actually make sure you are hiring for the right things and interviewing accordingly. If your interview isn’t focused on identifying the correct competencies, abilities and fit, even the seemingly best candidates won’t succeed long term.

You have to approach the interviewing process as a due diligence process. You have to approach it as objectively as possible and assess based on facts.

Pay Attention to Red Flags

Red flags will come up in the hiring process–they may come up multiple times during the hiring process. Every time a red flag appears, take care to note it on the applicant’s record in your applicant tracking software. One red flag may not create pause, but multiple red flags can pretty clearly indicate a future problem.

How to spot red flags. Red flags can be pretty subtle, but most likely you will recognize them and you just have to make sure you record them. For example, if the position will require night and weekend work, don’t ignore a candidate that states she prefers not to work every weekend. “Every weekend” may really mean she doesn’t want to work any weekends. It will eventually become an issue.

Study Top Performers

If this is a new position, it’s a bit of a gamble as you don’t really have a precedent. If this is a frequently hired position or you are replacing someone who was good at it, use that information to your advantage. Study what made that person successful, and identify the traits and skills of the top performers currently in the position. If possible, involve some incumbent top performers in the selection process, and consider assessing the cognitive and behavioral traits of your top performers using an employee assessment tool in order to create a benchmark profile against which candidate assessment results will be compared.

Avoid comparing candidates to a past or current low performer. If you think you will have success by hiring the opposite of a low performer, you are not necessarily hiring for success. What you may end up doing is just hiring the opposite behavioral traits and not necessarily someone who can excel in the position.

Focused Networking

Building a network must involve–you guessed it–networking. Forget about recruiter networking groups. After all, you aren’t hiring recruiters. Identify networking groups that are associated with your target market. As you attend events, you will get to know who the leaders are in your particular industry and with whom you need to associate.

When networking with these individuals they will definitely know who the top performers are. As you build these relationships, they will be more willing to identify these individuals for you and even direct them your way. This is one of the best ways to narrow down a candidate pool to only top performers.

Have a Value Proposition

Awareness of your competition and what they are doing to attract and retain employees is critical. You must be prepared to either match what they are doing or figure out a way to differentiate your organization from an employment brand standpoint. What is your value proposition? Why would employees want to come work with you?

Know Your Market

To be a good recruiter, you need to have your thumb on the pulse of the labor market. Doing so will ensure you target the right individuals and conduct searches in the right places. This will also help you decide where best to post job ads that will attract the candidates you are seeking. To streamline this process, search for external job boards by category in your hiring software. ExactHire’s HireCentric platform offers this feature, including the ability to easily post to these job boards from within the applicant tracking system (ATS). Focusing in the wrong areas will only attract the wrong candidates.

Lean on Referrals

The best for last. A heavy focus on referrals should be the goal of any great hiring strategy. There are two main reasons referrals need to be front and center in your focus. First, good employees will refer good people because they want to work with the best. Second, referrals typically have an instant fit and they already have a relationship with the person who is referring them. Top notch job seekers will be more willing to make a change for a friend than slug through the traditional hiring process without the benefit of any insider insight.

Want more ideas on how to attract and retain the best employees? Visit ExactHire’s resource page for more tips and techniques.


Photo Credit:  William Iven

How to Turn Pay Secrecy Obstacles Into Pay Transparency Opportunities

I’ve been thinking about the impact of snap decisions a lot lately. Having just finished the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, I have a new interest in the role of the subconscious on action and performance. Gladwell presents mounds of evidence supporting the idea that instinct shouldn’t be discounted relative to more involved decision-making processes. Essentially, gut counts for something.

Just as recently, I learned about the passage of a new employment law in the state of Massachusetts that bans employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history prior to offering the individual a job. It is slated to be effective in July of 2018. The intent behind the law is to prevent future pay inequity obstacles for women and minorities, as it makes it impossible for an applicant’s prior history (of being potentially underpaid) to follow them around to future employers. It gave me pause because while, especially as a female with a recruiting/HR background, I have never consciously been a part of a decision to underpay a new hire, what if my peers and I have unintentionally perpetuated pay inequity simply because I’ve been privy to applicants’ salary history in the past? How many times have you had two great final candidates with similar experience, but chose the one that had a history of making less money at previous employers because you could get a great deal on talent?

Reconciling Individual Rights & Employer Interests

It’s an interesting topic because as an HR professional you must act on behalf of the best interests of your employer. Those interests should include what is best for the employer in the long run; not just the short term benefits of a metaphorical fire sale on talent. Massachusetts isn’t alone, as other states have passed similar laws and proposed similar legislation aimed at promoting pay transparency in general. Many hope that these state-championed movements will lend more support to federal action to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act which, in part, makes it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from disclosing their wages to other employees or retaliate against them for doing so. The inability for employees to freely discuss pay information with one another has arguably prevented some individuals from taking advantage of federal protections available under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 in the past.

This practice of pay secrecy has undoubtedly perpetuated the pay inequity that exists in our country today. According to this Huffington Post article by key representatives of the EEOC:

“Today, 57 percent of women work outside the home, but the typical woman working full-time full-year still makes 21 percent less than the typical man working full-time full-year. And the pay gap is significantly greater for women of color: the typical black non-Hispanic woman made only 60 percent of a typical white non-Hispanic man’s earnings, while the typical Hispanic woman earned only 55 percent.”

Working to Minimize Pay Inequity

Despite the aggregate inequity that exists in pay practices today, there are changes being made that aim to minimize the pay gap:

And while eliminating instances of pay inequity is the right direction in which to head, it doesn’t come without short-term hardship for some employers. Moving from a pay secrecy mindset where the employer often traditionally came out on top, to a pay transparency mode which stands to expose some unsavory disparities, is challenging. However, if organizations approach the process with not only economic and compliance pressure as the motivation, but also a motivation to fulfill a yet unlocked potential in its employees with new opportunities, the process will run more smoothly and be much more sustainable.

In fact, let’s examine some of the obstacles this transition could present to organizations, and reframe each of them to suggest an opportunity that will benefit the employer in the long-term.


Obstacle #1 – Compliance burden for multi-state employers

Organizations that have employees in more than one state should be aware of how the law differs across their covered geographic areas. For example, if a company has a plant in Massachusetts then it will have to adjust its existing employment application to ensure that it no longer asks applicants for salary history from previous employers. However, if the same organization has a distribution facility in another state, the same requirement regarding pay history may not apply.

Opportunity – Efficiency through technology

While managing differences between states can be onerous, organizations have an opportunity to embrace an attitude that supports pay equity by adopting the requirements imposed by the strictest state/city in their employment realm for all of their locations. Alternatively, to ease the administrative burden, an employer may partner with an applicant tracking system that allows the employer access to multiple versions of an online job application which can be implemented at the job listing level.


Obstacle #2 – Time & money required to get better market pay data

In terms of both the money required to pay fees for compensation software, as well as the investment of time in mining the data to incorporate it into internal pay decisions, being more transparent about pay requires an employer to be solid in how it determines the going rate for different positions.

Opportunity – Develop pay grades that reflect current market pay, among other factors

While creating accurate pay grades isn’t something you whip up in a week, it is an exercise that can be motivating for employees in that it conveys potential to them for growth through a job category and/or into other management positions. Additionally, it gives organizations that may be reluctant to disclose individual pay an opportunity to at least convey ranges of information for each role so that individuals better understand where they stand with regards to their runway for future earnings. It helps your organization more effectively compete for talent by ensuring that you regularly evaluate the system to ensure it is still reflective of market pay.


Obstacle #3 – Training staff to have the right expectations about pay differences

When moving away from a culture of pay secrecy, organizations open themselves up to the new-found need to better explain differences in pay across job categories. While much of this may be attributed to market demand for various position types, depending on the organization, a fair amount of internal equity among positions may factor into the organization’s overall valuation for each role. Without a clear purpose or mission, as well as defined values, explaining the motivation for different internal equity factors may be more challenging.

Opportunity – Evaluate the impact of internal equity & reward the most critical players disproportionately

A shift toward the pay transparency side of the spectrum necessitates more work spent on defining the factors that determine individual pay decisions, and especially starting pay for new employees. Use this as an opportunity to explore whether certain job categories merit paying above market based on a potentially disproportionate impact of the department’s work on the organization’s mission/productivity. Additionally, use this exercise as an opportunity to train hiring managers on how to confidently and correctly explain the pay factors to individuals employed with the organization.

The tech company, Buffer, has taken this to one extreme by incorporating a compensation calculator available for public use on their corporate website and publishing the salaries of all of its employees. While this approach isn’t for every corporation, it was an important move for Buffer since one of its core values is to default to transparency. But think about the opportunity this has brought the organization, including the chance for managers to not only explicitly explain pay factors to employees, but to blog about it publicly and contribute to the media exposure that has arguably made Buffer one of the darlings of the corporate culture world. For a less extreme approach, consider the company PayScale, which falls closer to the mid-section of the pay transparency spectrum. It doesn’t share every employee’s individual salary, but rather shares the median salary for each job category.


Obstacle #4 – The cost to increase pay for underpaid employees

For employers who are willing to take the proactive plunge toward being more open about pay differences, the cost to actually correct inequity can’t be discounted. So how do you make the most of that exposure and turn a vulnerability into a positive?

Opportunity – Communicate the action taken as a result of the lesson learned

Nobody loves being wrong or having their error paraded about town; however, there’s something to be said for the credibility and goodwill gained from admitting one’s mistake and taking action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Take tech software giant, Salesforce, for example. CEO Marc Benioff was approached by two female employees about exploring potential pay gaps between employees of different genders. He didn’t expect to find an issue, but conducted an internal audit that would later find six percent of employees needed a salary adjustment. So, the organization spent three million dollars to eliminate statistically significant differences in pay. While it did cost the company money that probably wasn’t forecasted for that period, it has brought tremendously positive attention because the organization has been so open about it with employees, and has leveraged its actions with media exposure that will undoubtedly help it attract top, diverse talent down the road.


Obstacle #5 – It’s just uncomfortable to talk about potential pay differences

Cultural norms may suggest that it’s taboo to talk about what people make, and especially difficult if there’s an unfair disparity between what people who do similar work make. So even if employment law continues to progress to the point that encouraging pay secrecy is completely prohibited, employers and employees may be slow to embrace the concept of openness.

Opportunity – Focus on the “why” behind the transition

Different organizations will adopt varying degrees of transparency when it comes to compensation. While full disclosure may work for companies like Buffer and Whole Foods, a more conservative approach, like disclosing only the factors that contribute to pay decisions, may be more appropriate for others. The common denominator for success, regardless of the approach, seems to be process transparency, or a focus on the “why” according to this Fortune article.

By frequently discussing the reasons behind decisions, the motivation for employees to understand and engage with them improves. Conscientious communication around how pay decisions will help reduce long-term turnover, minimize office politics and support core values (especially if they relate to fairness, trust, respect) is an essential component of a smooth transition toward pay transparency.


In addition to the opportunities presented above, employers can capitalize on a commitment to improve communication about pay decisions by emphasizing employees’ total compensation packages. Whereas some organizations may not choose to pay at or above market for salaries for various roles, the relevancy and strength of their benefit offerings may serve as an effective counterbalance. It will be interesting to watch employment law in this area in the coming years, and especially after this year’s presidential election comes to a close.

Employ people in multiple states?

Our HireCentric applicant tracking system can help you manage multiple job application versions.


Hello, My Name is Intern

Interns are like Play-Doh. We’re easy to find, easy to train, but if you leave us out to dry by ourselves we might stiffen up and become molded in a way that can’t be changed. As an intern for ExactHire, I’ve been offered the ability to work on different projects and writing assignments, and have been included in various company culture activities all the while being treated as an equal (that still has much to learn). With this internship, and my previous ones, I’ve been very lucky to find individuals and mentors that have helped mold me into a Play-Doh sculpture that is confident in its ability to adapt and change. The tricky part is that not all internships are that great, so in order to really get the full potential out of your employee, there are a few key elements to follow.

They Have No Idea What They are Doing


We talk a big game through the interview, truly believing that we can handle anything that you throw at us, but once you sit us down at our desk for the first time, we have a monumental freak out. We can’t remember the first thing about our marketing vocab words or how to code in a simple HTML Heading 2.

The key is to comfort your intern, pretend they are approaching a work experience like this for the very first time – because they probably are. Comforting is not the same thing as hand holding. Many employers start the internship or interview with, “we’re not here to hold your hand or coddle you through this, we need you to hit the ground running,” and trust me, we want to do just that. But, we can only help as much as you allow us.

  • Be clear and set expectations with us. Do you want an intern that is only there for the coffee runs or do you want someone that could actually improve your department?
  • Don’t get frustrated if we ask the same question two or three times. If your intern is asking more than five times, then maybe get a little angry, but most of the time we just want to make sure we’re giving you the exact results you wanted.
  • Set an example. Reminisce with us on your own internship days. We have no idea what to expect from the new people, business, or material so we really appreciate when you’re there to make us feel like we’re not the plague, speaking of which…

Interns are Not the Plague


I know that some employers dislike the idea of interns. It makes sense, we’re only there for a short period and you spend most of your time teaching us valuable skills that may not be used within your own four walls. Teaching and employing interns is a selfless (but not a thankless) act. To ensure that no suspicious or lasting symptoms of a potential intern plague linger (decreased work activity, too many hours on facebook, etc.) there are a few ways to keep you and your intern engaged.

  • Though we are not the plague, we do like to integrate into each department at least once (if possible) whether it’s through sitting in on meetings or encouraging us to ask questions that may not pertain to our own assignments. Interns want to learn and we want to help you as best as we can; therefore, by getting a view of the bigger picture, we are able to really focus on how to best approach what you need from us.
  • We are responsible. Interns often don’t get recognized for the fact that they are taking the initiative to gain experience before leaving formal schooling. The fact that you have found someone that wants to learn from you while helping better your company is something to be appreciative of, especially when your intern is most likely eternally grateful for the opportunity you are giving them.
  • We can help you learn too! Internships are a great way to bring in a new set of eyes and energy. Additionally, if your organization is not yet sure it is ready for a full-time position in a certain area, an internship experience allows the employer to essentially “try before you buy.” The best part is, if you really like the work your intern does, they are always looking for a full time job after graduation!

Interns can be exciting, creative, and tech-savvy–but most of all they are grateful. As an intern, I can’t thank my current and previous employers enough for the opportunity to intern within their companies. If you’re interested in finding an intern or setting up an internship program, use ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system to find the perfect candidate!

Image credit: Play-Doh by Dennis Brekke (contact)

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