Holiday Team-Building – 3 Twists

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years Day. Each of these holidays is unique. The first is primarily celebrated in the U.S.–though similar holidays are found around the world. The second began as a Christian holiday, but is now celebrated by people of many faiths. The last one is pretty universal, assuming you follow the gregorian calendar (my favorite calendar by the way).

So for workers across the world, this series of holidays–and others in between–presents the  perfect opportunity to take a break. But time away from the office doesn’t mean that team-building must cease. On the contrary, now is the perfect time to strengthen bonds between co-workers!

Team-Building, Nicely Wrapped

The Gift Exchange

Gift exchanges can go one of two ways. Co-workers are ecstatic at receiving just what they wanted for under $30, or they are disappointed by a less than useful/exciting/thoughtful gift. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Try this variation on the exchange: ask each co-worker to purchase a gift under a certain value that will be placed into a silent auction. Place all these gifts on a large table with a bid sheet and provide each person with “auction dollars” for bidding. These dollars could also be earned/won through another activity like holiday bingo or office trivia.

Caution: Always carefully consider whether re-gifting is a good plan. If it wasn’t good enough for you, make sure you’re not just paying forward that disappointment.

Sweet Team-Building

The Holiday Party

This year, bring the party into the office. A good ‘ol fashion pitch-in lunch on a workday ensures that everyone can participate. Our company plans several of these throughout the year, but for the “Holiday Potluck” we include an optional “Sweet Treat Exchange” as well. Some socializing, a full belly, and a variety of take-home sweets makes for a fantastic team-building day.

Caution: If it’s an after-work party, be careful with holiday cocktails: one too many cups of eggnog could lead to a not-so-happy New Year.

Team-Building to Make a Difference

The Charitable Donation

“‘Tis better to give, than to receive.” Directing dollars away from gift buying and parties, and instead, investing it in a local charity is a powerful way to impact the community. This also underlines the “reason for the season”.

For an even more effective approach, your team can focus on working with one charity throughout the year. Pair the holiday donation with a service day that occurs earlier in the year. This makes for a richer experience and a greater impact than just a one-off donation.

Caution: Be sure that this activity is optional, anonymous, and provides co-workers with an opportunity to vote on the receiving charity. Not all charities will be in alignment with the beliefs and values of all team members.


Providing opportunities for social interaction and team-building among co-workers strengthens company culture. A strong culture is also enhanced by hiring people who fit the job and the company. ExactHire provides hiring technology that helps to ensure job fit and supports a strong company culture. Learn more by contacting us today!


Image credit: Red Snowflake Gift Tag by tengrrl (contact)

Offboarding Is Just As Important As Onboarding

Organizations of all sizes continue to hear about the importance of new-employee onboarding as it relates to employee engagement and overall retention. But many have found that the days of tracking all of these functions manually or in a spreadsheet are over. They are looking for better ways to organize the new-hire onboarding process and increasingly are moving toward paperless, interactive solutions to do so.

Once an employee is fully onboarded, most companies then utilize an HR and/or Payroll software solution to manage employees through the duration of their employment.  This is often where things like paid time off, pay increases, and performance reviews are kept. Again, keeping these types of records in a single, automated place streamlines the workflow and helps keep employees happier.

But how about when an employee leaves the organization — either voluntarily or involuntarily?  Do you have a definitive process to offboard that person?

Offboarding Defined

Like employee onboarding, employee offboarding will vary significantly from one organization to another.  Along those same lines, because there are a variety of things that must be done/tracked when an employee leaves, there’s a case to be made that automating this process is a good move.

As employees move on from your company, below are some common things that may be part of your offboarding process:

  • Retrieve office keys / entry swipe badge
  • Retrieve company laptop and/or phone
  • Confirm date of last paycheck
  • Provide COBRA information
  • Provide retirement plan options upon termination
  • Conduct exit interview
  • Provide copy of any non-compete or NDA agreements signed by employee
  • Setup auto-forward of the former employee’s corporate email

There certainly are many other things that might fall into this list, but it’s easy to see these are not trivial items.  As with new hire onboarding, you may choose to manage these tasks in a physical checklist or in a spreadsheet.  Likewise, there are solutions emerging to help automate this in the same way as new-hire onboarding.  Whatever methodology you choose, be sure to have a process in place to avoid exposure for your company and to make things as smooth as they can be.

To learn more about how ExactHire can help with your onboarding and offboarding processes visit the resource section of our website or contact us today!


Image credit: Delta B-727 (1970’s) by Hunter Desportes (contact)

Are You Getting The Most From Social Media?

Have you ever been upset about a product or service and swiftly turned to Facebook to share your frustrations? Have you tagged a company or posted the complaint on their page. Did you get an answer?

Be Social

An organization that has a social media page on every possible site, but does not effectively interact with the public on those sites, is actually worse off than the company without any presence. How is that possible? Simple: if you open up a social media channel, you have to reply to complaints, suggestions, or comments that are made on that channel. But wait, there’s more! Companies need to be willing to reply in the same way the communication came to the company. Meaning, if a customer tweets frustration about your customer service, tweet back! If you reach out privately, that customer may know you replied, but others assume that you are ignoring your customers.

It is important that organizations use social media to address customer needs and enhance products and services. Customers and prospects want easy access to answers, and if they have to pick up a phone or fumble around a website, they are not going to be happy. Unhappy customers will soon cease to be customers.


25% of consumers who complain about products on Facebook or Twitter expect a response within 1 hour (Source: American Express).


Recruiting Through Social Media

There is  an opportunity to harness your employees’ social connections beyond servicing customers. Many recruiters head to social media in order to spread the word about open positions. There are also Applicant Tracking Systems that integrate with social media, so that specific images and descriptions can be posted for an open position all with one click.



Social Media Policies

Regardless of your employer, your industry, or the size of your company, you likely must adhere to some kind of social media policy at work. These policies are put in place to protect the integrity and reputation of the company; however, many of these policies cause companies to miss out on the benefits of social media.

Some common policies restrict all access to social media from work computers during work hours. Others prevent employees from discussing the company in a negative manner on social networks. And some clearly distance the employer from the workforce by emphasizing that employee views are solely those of the employee–not the employer.

Small companies may allow all or most employees to have access to social networks and respond to interactions; whereas, larger companies might actually hire people to do this full time. Depending on the specific company, there are various use policies that can work. The main thing is for companies to remember is that they must interact with customers through their active social media channels.



To learn how ExactHire’s HireCentric ATS can assist your organization in integrating social media into your hiring process, contact us today.


Image credit: The Art of Social Media by mkhmarketing (contact)

Indiana Basketball And Hiring – What Can We Learn?

I live in Indiana, where basketball is king. Whether you attended Indiana University or not (I did not–I’m a proud Butler University Bulldog), IU basketball is a mainstay of conversations throughout the state, especially this time of year.

This year, however, IU basketball is the topic of conversation for the wrong reasons.  Over the past few months, no fewer than 6 of the 13 scholarship players on the IU squad have been arrested or suspended for run-ins with the law…that’s almost 50% of the team!

Naturally, many of the discussions about this among Hoosier fans (don’t ask what a Hoosier is, as even those of us from Indiana aren’t 100% sure!) revolve around how much coach Tom Crean should be held accountable for these incidents.  Regardless of any personal bias one might have for/against Coach Crean, I find myself thinking about the following:

  • He recruited and signed each of these players.
  • They each interact with him on a regular (almost daily) basis.
  • How they perform on the basketball court ultimately determines his success as a coach. 

Sound familiar?  If you’re a business owner or hiring manager, it should.  After all, what do we do in those roles?

  • Recruit talent (i.e., employees).
  • Interact with employees regularly.
  • “Coach” employees to perform at a level that ensures success for the organization.

Given that, let’s look at the IU situation by placing things into a business situation.  Assume that you hire 13 people over the course of a year or so.  Then, assume that those 13 people perform at a fairly average level (if you’ve seen IU basketball over the past year, you know this is a generous statement).  Finally, let’s assume 6 of those 13 people end up arrested or suspended over a period of a few months for various alcohol or drug-related offenses.  As the manager of those people, how likely is that you’d still have your job?

My point here isn’t to pile on as it relates to Tom Crean.  It’s fun to draw these comparisons, as there are some parallels between the roles of a coach and a manager/boss.  But, my overarching point here is how important it is to recruit/hire the right people. 

I know that’s a very simplistic and obvious statement.  “Right” means different things to different organizations.  Talent is clearly important, but it isn’t the only thing.  How well will the person “fit” the organization, the role, the team, etc.?  Will they be a good teammate?  It’s true in sports, but it’s also true in business.

Let me finish my basketball-to-business comparison with two examples relative to IU: the Duke and Kansas basketball programs.  Both programs are run by coaches who  know how to recruit those who “fit” their programs. They also have the respect of their players.  As you get ready to hire for your next opening, be sure to think about what you can learn from Duke or Kansas to more consistently recruit the right people for your team.

ExactHire provides hiring solutions that help organizations find and hire the best talent and the right fit for their company culture. To learn more about how ExactHire can improve your hiring process, contact us today!

Image Credit: Basketball Goal by prettybea (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Test Your Application Through The Applicant’s Eyes

Finding the right employees can be daunting. Have you ever thought about how equally disheartening it can be to find the right job? I strongly encourage our clients to play the role of job-seeker by searching and applying for open positions at their organization. What they find is often times surprising, but it almost always leads to improvements in their recruiting and hiring processes.

Hiring managers usually do a great job of developing the job description, but they often overlook the application process itself. Having a few applicants who start an application, but then abandon it, is common. But when this trend increases, an organization can benefit from taking a few minutes to go through the application process as a job-seeker would.

With an Applicant Tracking System like HireCentric, you can create a ‘dummy’ account to serve as your test applicant. Some of my co-workers create pseudo-profiles using names of celebrities that include quirky and funny answers to education and employment history questions. You can do the same, or keep it boring, and name your test applicant ‘Company TestAccount’, holding applicant answers to a similar standard.

Concerns may arise about reporting criteria or skewing your data for REAL applicants. It is important that you develop a standard for answering those EEOC and source questions. We suggest choosing the option “I do not wish to answer” for the EEOC and VEVRAA questions; and we always choose the company website as the source. As a best-practice, we also put a note in the applicant record identifying it as a test account, change the status to not qualified, and archive our mock application when testing for clients.

Testing your application process is a best practice, and it can have a huge impact on improving the quality of your new hires. You want the job-seekers to find your open position, apply for it, and be excited about the prospect of working at your company.

Test Your Application – 3 Considerations

Now that you have the basics, and you are ready to test your application, here are a few of the top things to consider when testing the process as a job seeker:

How easy is it to find your job listing?

Most job boards will list jobs by the date they were posted, but most applicants will land on your open position by filtering for keywords and location. Make sure that you are using a multitude of keywords that apply to both the open position and your company. By using specific terminology, you can reduce the number of clicks it takes to land on your open position.

How long does it take to complete the application?

Consider not only how long it takes to complete the application, but what are the implications that arise from an application being too short or too long? If you have a short application, you might find that you receive way too many unqualified applicants. Alternately, if the application is too long, you may find that ideal candidates are abandoning the application. Testing the application to understand how much time you are asking candidates to commit is imperative.

If you find that your application is extensive, but that all points are necessary, it may be time to consider a 2-Step application. This feature makes the initial screening short for applicants and allows you to invite only qualified applicants to complete the second application step.

Are you creeped out by the questions on the application?

Test your application so you can see the process as an applicant sees it. You may find out that some of your questions are throwing red flags to the applicant–like asking for social security numbers. Maybe you are asking for an over-abundance of essay questions. Or, you may just discover that you are asking questions in a confusing fashion.


Download our hiring process questions guide

Visit ExactHire’s Resource Page to download a tip sheet with more specific examples of how to test your application and improve the applicant experience. To learn more about our HireCentric Applicant Tracking System, contact us today!


Image credit: Job Application 2 by T Hart (contact)

New Mom Motivations – Increase Employee Happiness

I have a new daughter, and she is amazing! I love having a baby in the house again. My two sons are six and eight, full of energy, and involved in everything. But having an infant in the house has reminded me to slow down and enjoy life a little bit more.

Although my husband and I are often sleep deprived, we’ve learned to appreciate the quiet times and enjoy the first smiles, snuggles, pretty dresses, and bows. It’s safe to say that being home and having the opportunity to enjoy all of this is motivating to me.

And my company knows it.

Motivate Your Employees

What Makes Your People Tick?

A successful company knows what makes people tick. People are driven in many different ways. Compensation is important, but it’s not everything. Companies need managers who know what it is that makes their teams happy and what motivates them to help the organization succeed.

I work for a company that believes in a work-life balance and provides flexibility to work from home and to change schedules if necessary. Two years ago, I preferred to arrive after 9:00 AM because I didn’t need to rush out at 5:00 PM (and because I wasn’t a morning person). Today, I arrive at work early so that I can be back home by late afternoon. I am motivated to be as efficient as possible at work so that I can be home to help my boys with homework, make dinner, and have time to hold my baby girl. I am telling you this to illustrate how employee priorities and motivations can change as they reach different stages in life.

Knowing more about what motivates your employees will also help you learn to manage them over the course of their employment within your organization. From the very beginning–as part of the hiring process–companies can utilize cognitive and behavioral assessments to determine whether an applicant is a good fit for both the position and the organization. Later on, you can use these assessment results to help manage and motivate the employee.

Maximize Employee Happiness

It’s About People

For long-term success, the happiness of your employees should matter the most in your organization. Be sure to assess new hires for job fit, get to know your team and what makes them happy through informal conversations, and use company social activities and events to to strengthen relationships. You will find that happy employees lead to greater work efficiency, and the work environment is more enjoyable for everyone.


How will you keep your employees happy so that you can retain the best team?

Learn more about applicant assessments tools and other people-pleasing HR Technology at Contact us today!

Image credit: mother&child01 by David Bleasdale (contact)

Simplify, Target, Attract Top Talent

Let’s face it, your job posting is one of countless others.

And the perfect applicant is the needle in a haystack.

When you consider these two facts, it’s a wonder that applicants and companies ever find each other! So how do you get through all that hay and find the needle?

Download our hiring process questions guide

Know Your Audience

Attract top talent by targeting ideal applicants

One key element to keep in mind when posting a job is your target audience. Do you write your job descriptions in industry specific terminology? If yes, then this conveys that you are only willing to consider those with industry specific experience.

In a similar way, let’s say for a sales position you only talk about incremental sales goals. Will you not then consider an applicant who has achieved additional sales targets and up-selling goals, or exceeded Tier 3 commission?  If so, then you should mention those points in the job description too. Opportunity can abound if we carefully consider how we are talking to applicants.

Make It Easy

Attract top talent by simplifying the application Process

Now, pretend that you’re an applicant who has been out of work for a year. Every day you apply for a job or two. You like how a company states things in the job description, and you think you’d be a great fit. You found the job on a job board. You click apply.This job board redirects you to the company’s website where you’re asked to fill out your entire life story. “WHY, OH WHY!” You cringe…before hitting the close tab and moving on to something else.

As Human Resources professionals, we all know the reasons for the applicant’s dilemma above. Too many applicants, not enough hours…I need everyone in the system so that I can track for legal and/or reporting purposes… the list goes on.

But how can you address an applicant’s concerns so that they click that apply button?

Break up the application and tell the applicant what’s going to happen! Add a simple line to the job description that says something like:“If you are applying to this job from a job board, you will be redirected to our site, where you will be asked to complete a brief assessment of your qualifications for this position.  Applicants who meet the basic qualifications will be invited to complete the full application.”

You’re making it easy and keeping your audience in mind while writing this job description–these are two big keys to attract top talent and find that needle in a haystack.


 P.S. You could also address the applicant’s pain of  “Why can’t I even get a rejection email?” with these two features on our HireCentric Applicant Tracking System: emailing applicants en masse and utilizing external statuses for applicants


How Applicant-Friendly Is Your Hiring Process?

Our next step in this ongoing endeavor to convert more of your company’s career site visitors to applicants – look at the hiring process through the eyes of your applicants. How intuitive is it? How good (or bad) is the experience?

There’s a fine line to be walked here. You want to make the recruiting process inviting and make it simple enough for people to apply. It can’t be a 30-45 minute exercise that requires them to provide excruciating detail about every job they’ve held, school they’ve attended, etc. On the other hand, you may encounter different problems if you don’t find a way to make the process organized and consistent. Simply allowing applicants to email their resume puts you in a position where all of the work falls on your shoulders as the potential employer.

In this blog, I’ll mention a couple of things our applicant tracking software clients use regularly to achieve a healthy balance.

Transition applicants from job listing directly to employment application

The best way to do this is to allow site visitors to start an application on the same page as the job description. This way, new applicants to your site can create their initial profile on-the-fly. While it might not seem like a big deal – as opposed to clicking a button that says “Apply Now” — it is interesting to see the increased number of applicants when this approach is used. This is no different than our inbound marketing consulting group advising us on how moving a box on our website will improve conversion. Amazingly, that simple step has significant results. The same holds true with this application launch feature at the end of a job overview. It’s a very simple yet powerful way to convert more visitors to applicants.

Shorten the employment application, itself

As best you can, look at that document with a fresh set of eyes to determine how much of what’s on there is truly useful and needed. For instance…

  • How much information do you really need regarding prior employers?
  • Do you need an actual physical address, or just the city & state?
  • Do you truly need the supervisor’s phone number, or is an email enough?

This same process can be applied to the standard questions that are asked of your applicants. Perhaps it’s not really relevant to know what days of the week they prefer to work, or whether they’re willing to work overtime – especially if you only work standard business days and hire exempt staff! The point here is simple – eliminate what’s not needed to make the process as reasonable for your applicants as it can be.

Considering these seemingly small changes can help yield big results in terms of your flow of applicants. Stay tuned for my next installment where we look at a very unique way to actually break this application process into two separate steps.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about ExactHire please visit our resources section or contact us.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5 Tips To Help Your Company Stand Out When Hiring Employees

Quick preview of what’s coming below — the picture shown here is not how you want your applicants to react when applying for a position with your company!

The labor market is no longer flooded with people looking for any type of job they can find. For employers and HR folks charged with recruiting, the landscape is changing. Posting open jobs and forcing applicants to jump through hoops to simply be considered for those jobs no longer works the way it did in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

A big part of what’s changing is the expectation applicants have about how they should be treated when applying for work with an organization. The ability to apply online is a given at this point, but how can your company look different and have a more positive brand in the hiring marketplace? Below are 5 things any size organization can (and should) do to compete for great talent:

Be honest about your workplace

There’s nothing wrong with emphasizing the strengths of your company or the job you’re trying to fill. At the same time, don’t paint an unrealistic picture. Applicants appreciate honesty and expect that not everything is perfect with any job or company. Promoting transparency from the beginning of the process (day in the life, pay, work hours, etc.) will serve you well.

Make it easy to apply to your company

This is directly opposite of advice you received when the recession hit. Applicant volume was so overwhelming that many organizations intentionally asked for more information upfront in the hiring process to try to cut down the exorbitant number of candidates. As the applicant market has corrected, this no longer makes sense. If you’re still requiring applicants to provide a full application to be considered for openings in your company, now is the right time to reconsider that approach. Things such as shorter applications, multi-step applications, applying with social media profiles (LinkedIn, Indeed), etc, are all things that are very attainable with today’s technology, and all create a more favorable impression with potential job applicants.

Clearly explain your hiring process

This doesn’t need to be any top secret endeavor. Let applicants know upfront what will be involved in your unique process. This ties in with the honesty tip in #1 above. If applicants know what to expect, they’re more motivated to apply and more likely to stay engaged as you go through your cycle. Publish this in your Careers section or make it part of the online employment application process.

Stick to your process

Be sure to follow what you layout to your candidates. Meeting expectations is important, as this will quickly help applicants form an opinion about your organization. Try not to deviate from what you’ve laid out and do everything possible to keep a good pace/momentum to the process. This will keep you top of mind for those better applicant targets and help keep people from dropping out of your funnel.

Communicate with your applicants

Nothing kills momentum or great impressions like failure to follow up. Ask any job seeker their number one complaint and it’s almost assuredly the lack of response after a resume or application is submitted. Don’t fail to capitalize on the time and effort (and dollars) spent to get good applicants into your cycle. Keep them informed about next steps and timing for those. You’ll stand out relative to other potential employers and establish goodwill with your applicants.

There are more specific strategies for any of these core items listed above. These are simply big-picture ideas to use when framing out or revamping your hiring process.

To learn more about ExactHire’s applicant tracking and onboarding software products, please visit our resources section or contact us today.

Image credit: Zelda was Kicking my Butt xd by Ashley Sturgis (contact)