Job Seekers: Don't Let HR Drop The Ball

job seeker HR frustration

By Donna Fuscaldo

Human resource departments across the country are dropping the ball, creating a "talent crisis" in finance, information technology, procurement and other business areas, according to a new report by The Hackett Group, the business advisory company.

Through its research The Hackett Group found that businesses say they are getting support from HR in managing employees less than 35 percent of the time on average and that HR is providing a full range of services only 13 percent or less of the time. The study looked at six areas of so-called talent management including workforce planning and succession; collaboration, retention, performance management, learning and development and recruiting and staffing."Companies aren't satisfied with the support HR is providing," says John Cooper, associate principal and HR Advisory Program leader at The Hackett Group. "HR is being squeezed. They haven't had the budget to do these things." Companies are equally guilty of not engaging in long-term planning and not focusing on developing employees, he says.

According to the report in areas like retention and collaboration/knowledge-sharing, 18 percent or fewer companies in the study gave HR departments credit for providing enough service and expertise. In workforce planning, performance management, and learning and development, 33 percent to 47 percent of companies said that they were getting adequate levels of support.

For companies, this lack of effort on the part of the HR department for whatever reason means that if something doesn't change, the business will have a hard time finding the right talent and keeping them there. According to Cooper, in order for companies to land lasting talent they need to have a clear idea of what skills and experience they are looking for and they have to engage in workforce planning in which they figure out what they want out of their employees in the next five years. What's more, HR departments need to rely less on labor markets outside the company and develop the existing staff. Another option: hiring less-experienced people that have the potential to be developed.

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Once the employee is hired, the company needs to develop and invest in the talent so that he or she can improve and grow. "HR has to take a more aggressive stance in spearheading this," says Cooper. "HR departments can't go get more money. They have to become more productive."

%VIRTUAL-hiringNow-topCity%For the job seeker, this lack of support by HR departments means that they need to be more critical of the job they take. "From the job seeker point of view, it behooves them to really look beyond the immediate need to score a job and ask questions around what the company does to develop people's career path," says Cooper. For instance, he says job candidates need to inquire about how the company integrates performance and career development and ask what the career ladder entails.

"Ask for real world examples of people starting where you are and moving up, and find out what happened to them," says Cooper. If the company can't answer any of those questions, then it sends a clear message that not much thought is put into an employee's future. If you do decide to take the job, take it as a way to get experience or a stepping stone to eventually getting a job where you can grow, he says.

Improving the talent companies are landing not only saves it the headache of finding a replacement, but it also boosts productivity, which in turn will increase revenue and net income. "It reduces a whole heap of costs that happen because of constant turnover," says Cooper. He pointed to a Canadian client that had turnover rates of 50 percent in its call centers. It cost the company between $700,000 to $1 million a day as a result.

Given the "talent crisis," job seekers are in a unique position to stand out when it comes to landing a job as long as they possess more than the skills listed in the job description. "It's not enough to be the consummate IT, finance or HR professional," says Cooper. Instead you have to have the ability to solve problems and analyze situations. "There's big push toward those higher order skills that go well beyond just the core functions," he says.

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