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Screening Applicants 41 process caters to the younger generation, participants felt that it can exclude older generations who do not have enough experience with the technology to easily apply for open positions. Effect of Economic Downturn. Participants indicated that there is a shift from an applicant's market to an employer's market during times of economic downturn. This shift leads to a rising applicant pool but fewer job openings. As a result, organizations no longer need to sell themselves to compete, but rather look for candidates to sell their skill sets and experiences to the organization. However, larger applicant pools make it more difficult for hiring managers to identify high-potential candidates because they are tasked with sifting through numerous resumes and applications from many candidates who would not be a good fit for the job. In addition, with larger applicant pools, the definition and benchmark for a high- potential candidate becomes more stringent. Organizations also mentioned that, during times of economic downturn, hiring freezes have ripple effects that make future recruiting difficult. One of these challenges is maintaining relationships with universities and career fairs during the freeze. At times, career fair organizers have waiting lists of employers that would like to take a spot at the career fair. As a result, a hiring freeze for one organization is another organization's chance to move up on the waiting list and take their spot. 5.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in "Screening Applicants" (see Exhibit 5-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource (HR) departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 5-2 Industry Strategies: Screening Applicants Strategy Strategy Description Prepare Hiring Many organizations indicated they are administering training to recruiters and Managers to Screen hiring managers to help them recruit individuals of different generations, cultures, and genders. These courses instruct employees on the effective and ineffective ways to construct job advertisements and interview applicants. This training is helpful in situations where managers have to screen "walk-on" candidates. "Walk-on" candidates are those who walk up to hiring managers on work sites and ask to apply for a job. This situation can put technical managers in screening and hiring situations where, before training, they may not have the necessary skills to communicate effectively or make informed decisions. These training sessions also prepare hiring managers to market the organization, a specific department, available job opportunities, and the benefits of joining the team. Use Multiple Organizations suggested they are involving more than just the hiring manager Interviewers in the interview process. Involving other managers and employees in hiring decisions increases the likelihood that the right employment decision is made. Different interview styles and questions tend to elicit more information about the candidate that can be used to make a more informed decision. This also minimizes the impact of the bias that the hiring manager may bring into the interview. It is important that the candidate is hired because of his/her "fit" with the job requirements and organization and not personality similarity to the manager. Sometimes the additional interviewer is a human resource (HR) professional. These professionals can either interview the applicant along with the hiring manager or separately but it is important that they work
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42 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce Exhibit 5-2 (Continued) Industry Strategies: Screening Applicants Strategy Strategy Description collaboratively to come to an informed decision. This type of joint effort is critical because the hiring manager tends to primarily focus on the technical skills of the applicant while the HR professionals are assessing if the applicant is a good fit for the immediate team and the organization. Integrate Human Participating organizations indicated they are ensuring that hiring managers Resources in the Hiring and recruiting teams collaborate while they are sourcing, identifying, and Process hiring. Organizations have also found that rotating recruiters from job sites to headquarters will help to improve the screening of "walk-on," "word-of- mouth," and "referral" candidates. Recruiting teams (e.g., managers, recruiters) can also help to manage the impression the organization is giving during the recruiting process. Some organizations call all the applicants once a week until a decision is made and then call the applicant to let them know whether or not they are being offered a position. If the person did not get the job, they let them know why and, if possible, suggest other positions where the individual may be a viable candidate. This engagement during a recruiting process is rare and stands out to an applicant, leaving a positive impression that the organization to which they are applying really cares about them. Applicants are more likely to continue to apply or tell other people to apply to the organization even when they were not initially selected. Screen for Eligibility Organizations have purchased software that asks online applicants to respond to a short set of questions that relate to job requirements for the open position. If the applicant answers a question in a way that indicates he/she is not qualified, he/she is notified and encouraged not to upload a resume to the website. This practice saves the organization the time and expense of reading resumes of unqualified applicants. Once an applicant applies and uploads their resume, organizations have started conducting background checks to determine if the information is accurate. Names of schools, certifications, licenses, past job experience, relationships with former employers, and arrest history are possible facts to verify. Screen for Competency Organizations are moving away from matrix or check-box style screening which typically involves the hiring manager or recruiter asking "yes" or "no" questions regarding the applicant's experience. Performance or behaviorally- based interviews require applicants to respond to problem solving questions where they indicate, in several sentences, how they would respond to a typical work-related situation. Positive and negative responses to these questions are pre-determined by subject matter experts in the organization. Pre-determined answers help hiring managers and recruiters quickly decide if an applicant possesses the skills, work ethic, and customer service required to perform the job. Assessments can either be paper and pencil or computer-based. One organization uses a managerial assessment process for entry-level positions to help hiring managers identify high potential applicants who could be future candidates for managerial positions. Although some organizations are discouraged from using physical abilities tests because of state laws that govern applicant assessments, others find that