Autism Advantage Cohort “Rock” Their LinkedIn Profiles

Reducing employment barriers which separate skilled candidates from hiring managers enables companies to more effectively hire top notch individuals. That’s what we did last week when we brought members of our Autism Advantage cohort to the offices of LinkedIn.

Many highly-skilled autistic candidates face difficulty navigating the professional networks and personal interactions that other candidates rely upon to connect them to job opportunities. To solve for this, we partnered with San Francisco’s AASCEND Job Club on a strategy session between our members and over 20 LinkedIn staff. The session centered on how to effectively maximize exposure on the professional networking site. LinkedIn staff worked with our members to polish profiles, to add specific elements to make LinkedIn profiles stand out among colleagues, and to strategize around how to effectively utilize online networking. LinkedIn staff also volunteered to take updated headshots for any participant who requested it.

LinkedIn staff and cohort graduates also strategized about how to effectively use the network beyond finding job leads, like using the platform to grow one’s professional stature among colleagues and within a field of expertise. That was particularly relevant to our initial Autism Advantage cohort, as we placed most members with companies even before their graduation in May (with projected 100% placement in 60 days).

Continued support is essential to growing a professional’s career no matter what their background. Just as LinkedIn staff helped us recognize how the site supports professionals in their careers after their initial hire, we continue to provide support to cohort graduates and their new employers well-after graduation.

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Our Autism Advantage cohort is one way we help skilled candidates scale cultural barriers in the hiring process. We operate our program with Expandability (501c), the organization which helped establish the Autism at Work initiative at SAP. Our next six-week Autism Advantage cohort begins on June 19 and will center on those skilled in data analytics. Interested candidates can find information here. If you are an employer interested in observing our training, becoming one of our corporate speakers, or in hiring from our students, please reach out to Jack Hogan at Jack@buzzhero.io .

At BuzzHero, we provide solutions to ease the work of the hiring manager. We partnered with Expandability to launch our Autism Advantage Program when we recognized these barriers were preventing many highly-skilled candidates from connecting with qualified positions. We’ve further scaled that success by learning from corporations like LinkedIn, with amazing community partners like AASCEND, and with autism and user experience experts like AASCEND Lead Facilitator David Platzer.

Reducing barriers separating hiring managers from talent is an essential component to growing the diversity, innovation, and productivity of Silicon Valley. Companies like LinkedIn recognize that fact. It’s what makes them innovative, and it’s what makes us want to learn from them.

 

BuzzHero partners with Expandability on an innovative hiring initiative.

We are thrilled to announce that our partners at Expandability powered by Goodwill received a $50,000 grant from Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), an industry leader in cyber security. The grant will enable Expandability to create its first ever cohort focused on Data Science and Data Analysis. This contribution is yet another example of Symantec’s industry-leading commitment to developing a more innovative and inclusive workforce. From working with foster youth to promoting gender equality in STEM, Symantec continually demonstrates their commitment to building a more inclusive future for the tech industry.

Expandability’s program connects job seekers on the spectrum with an environment to show off their technical skill set to potential employers. Even college graduates on the spectrum can find themselves trapped in minimum-wage jobs. The program uses a unique approach by creating a simulated work environment to learn workplace norms. Candidates build their self-confidence, social skills, and professional skills while expanding their networks.

Companies who employ this untapped talent pool can reap massive benefits. People on the spectrum provide dramatically different viewpoints than their neurotypical counterparts. These individuals often provide innovative ways to solve complex issues that have plagued others within their work groups. Studies prove that diverse teams have a dramatic effect on performance and bottom line. Adding neurodiverse perspectives is big step in the right direction and grants companies the added benefit of creating clearer team communications. As companies learn to be more thoughtful about diction and context, they can begin to cultivate a more inclusive environment across the organization.

The next cohort begins April 10th in San Jose, California. This cohort will focus on Data Science and Data Analytics. If you are interested in learning more please reach out to Jack Hogan at Jack@buzzhero.io or Katee Peek at Katee@expandability.org

Is it important to have a great candidate experience in the interview process?

It goes without saying that the hiring/interview process for most tech companies is demanding and time consuming for people applying for a software engineering position. The majority of the time these tech companies are interviewing thousand of other individuals for the same current position being offered. The process of selecting a candidate for the job that is the right culture fit and has the technical skills to perform well for companies is extremely difficult. This makes tech companies’ recruiters and hiring managers with no choice but looking for a way to reject candidates, which is problematic. Not all of the recruiters and hiring managers are going to keep all of these candidates’ experiences positive. However, this could be a solution or opportunity to tech companies attracting top talented individuals for building their engineering dream team by conducting a positive interview candidate experience for software engineers.

GetVoip conducted a study with Glassdoor’s candidate’s interview experience. They wanted to learn how the job hiring processes were piloted for major tech companies. They looked at hundreds reviews on Glassdoor from software engineers who applied to thirteen popular tech companies. Here is what they found:

 

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The candidates interview experience overall was very positive, but for some of those tech companies like Twitter, Linkedin, Apple, and Uber their percentages of negative experiences are higher than 20% is disturbing. Does that negative percentage impact the organization also in a negative way? Every individual applying on their own and those receiving an employee referral is required to go through the interview/hiring process there is no short cuts for hiring. I say it does have an impact because it shows the actually culture of the company and how they treat their employees through the actual interview process without the company even realizing they did.

Candidate feedback from their experiences with the interview/hiring process for tech companies could provide answers in strengthening the process overall, and marketing their culture the right way to individuals. Although giving tech companies benefit of the doubt that there is always a reason for rejecting candidates, and those rejected individuals becoming bias with their opinions on the company with how unpleasant their experience was. However, there is an opportunity for tech companies to learn and improve the difficult hiring/interviewing process by increasing that percentage of positive candidate experience. Stop wasting good people’s time by giving them a horrible interview experience. They took time out of their lives to see what that company has to offer. (Kind of don’t know how to end)

Even a Top 20 employer can improve the recruiting process

According a Glassdoor Survey, AirBnB is the #1 employer in America. AirBnB also has the highest percentage of negative interview experiences from candidate ratings. Imagine how well they will do if they improve their candidate experience.

It is important to note that improving the interview experience does not mean making the interview easier. There is an opportunity for every company to improve, regardless of interview difficulty

GlassDoor’s Top 20: Negative interview experiences vs. the difficulty of the interview

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AirBnB is ranked #1, however their negative interview experience ratings are in a class of their own. Their negative interview rating is 7 percentage points worse than any other top 20 employer. From a sample of the 25 candidate reviews on Glassdoor, it is true that those that did not receive an offer had a poor interview experience. However, even some of those that received an offer also rated the interview experience negatively. Here are some candidate quotes explaining the negative experience of the coding challenge:

I explained my thought process and my approach but got no feedback from the interviewer. I went ahead and wrote the code, fixed all errors and ran it. I checked with the interviewer if he saw the output and asked him if he wanted me to walk him through it. I believe I solved it correctly but got no feedback. He just copied my code and said he’ll check the output later. A day later I got the email that they don’t think my background and qualifications match with the position and they have not decided to go ahead with the interview process.

The interviewer was on mute the whole time, so it was difficult to get any feedback on the direction I was taking. I suggested one solution to the problem, and was told that it was not acceptable – because they wanted me to solve it a different way.

Let’s take a look at the companies that do well on candidate experience. Three of the top 20 employers that do very well in candidate interview experience are Bain & Company, Boston Consulting, and Eastman. Bain & Company is the #2 employer after AirBnB. They have the highest interview difficulty and a low negative interview experience rating. From 25 sample review for Bain’s interview experience 9 candidates received offers, 16 candidates did not and all of the 25 had a positive interview experience. Here are a few candidate reviews on these 3 companies’ interview experience:

“Throughout the process, everyone was very friendly – in the end, I was told I didn’t make the cut because I was too nervous, and they told my other friend she asked too many questions that made her seem cautious”.

“The formal onsite interview was set up well with quite a lot of attention to the details… Overall a great attention to candidate care!”

“Lots of feedback and guidance, including 2 mock interviews with consultants.”

In summary, there is an opportunity for every company to improve their interview process. This does not mean making the process easier or more difficult. Companies who want to improve their candidate experience are focused on giving candidates the feedback they deserve. They also show care for their candidates in the pipeline regardless of whether or not they will get an job offer. In the end, a good interview experience gives the company a better brand image to attract top talent.

 

Hiring Decision

One hiring mistake is one too many. Bringing someone onto the team that doesn’t perform impacts morale and productivity. The individual’s time is also wasted as they could have been a great performer in a different role, department or company and instead they are in a job where they are not happy and their employer is not happy.

While conservative when it comes to hiring, my track record is not error free. Making a hiring decision on a few hours of interviews when candidates are prepped and on their best behavior is a recipe for imperfection.

Making the hiring process as objective as possible is critical. The hiring process needs to have an objective view of the candidate’s skills, fit in the department, and mutual expectations of performance. To make the process as objective as possible, candidates must be interviewed by multiple people. How this group of people makes a decision is where it gets tricky.

Some companies use a consensus approach to hiring decisions. In these situations, everyone must say “yes” to a candidate and if one person says “no” the candidate doesn’t receive an offer. This way of making decisions ensures that everyone buys into who is hired and the chance of a bringing on a poor performer is low. However, companies with high hiring targets may find it hard to fill their roles. Also, candidates who could challenge the status quo in a productive way may be turned down.

Another approach is to use a scoring system (say 1 to 5) and candidates who have an acceptable average rating (say 4 or above) are extended an offer. This approach works quite well with entry-level positions, such as, campus recruiting, where multiple people are hired and have not yet been assigned to a hiring manager. For this to be successful, it is even more important that the interviews be structured and consistent and the interviewers be well trained on exactly what is expected of them. For mid-level and senior hires, the roles are too few and the consequences of making a mistake is too high to leave a decision left to a formula.

Commonly, the hiring manager makes the final decision. The hiring manager listens to all of the feedback from other people who have interviewed the candidate. In the end, the hiring manager makes the decision as only they can weigh the risk of a hiring mistake versus leaving the role open longer. Feedback from other people helps provide different perspectives on the same candidate. Good feedback is evidenced based citing examples and verbatim quotes. As with all approaches there are flaws and here the hiring manager may ignore important feedback.

So while getting clear and consistent criteria of your hiring needs is important, being clear on how you make the hiring decision is just as important. Be objective as possible, knowing that it won’t be perfect and the approach you choose needs to be appropriate to the situation. Once set, don’t change the process to accommodate “the exception”.

 

3 Steps to Improve Your Interviews

In this hyper-competitive tech market, providing a good interview experience is critical. And yet, no one organization seems to have perfected it. Fortunately, creating a truly awesome experience can be relatively simple. To resolve the problem, interviewers need to take three basic steps:

  1. Make the interview experience consistent whether you like the candidate or not.
  2. Provide clear and constructive feedback to candidates.
  3. Listen to what candidates say about you hiring process.

If your organization can achieve these simple tasks, your candidates’ experience will be better than those offered by Glassdoor’s Top 20 Employers.

A few weeks ago, we ran a post on improving Candidate Experience. We found that everyone can improve– even Glassdoor’s Top 20 Employers fell prey to very common interviewing mistakes.

The study showed that candidates’ concerns were not particularly varied– ultimately, there were 3 key problems that plagued candidates across the board:

  1. Inconsistent Experience
  2. Interview Questions are not Clear
  3. Lack of Feedback

Though circumstances differed on a case-by-case basis, basically every negative review mentioned one or more of these central issues.

I went ahead and wrote the code, fixed all errors and ran it… I believe I solved it correctly but got no feedback. He just copied my code and said he’ll check the output later. A day later I got the email that they don’t think my background and qualifications match with the position and they have not decided to go ahead with the interview process.

Following this post, we sent out a survey (thanks very much to our participants!) on interviewing and the candidate experience. This survey served to illuminate where and how interviewers are causing the issues candidates highlighted above.

All survey participants were themselves interviewers and all considered candidate experience to be of importance:

  • 50% of participants identified themselves as working to “improve the hiring process”
  • 84% claimed that candidate experience was “Important” or “Very Important.”

For the most part, survey participants acknowledged the problems that candidates highlighted from the earlier blog post.

  • 0% considered the interview experience to be anywhere near entirely consistent
  • 34% thought the experience differed widely on a case-by-case basis.

Fortunately, creating a consistently solid process is not difficult. The following guide should set you well on the path towards the ideal experience.

  • Interviewers must make the experience consistent for candidates. They can achieve this by implementing a well-designed interview structure. By asking questions from a script or outline and make decisions against a predefined rubric, one can ensure interviews are well-structured and that hiring criteria are uniform in both concept and execution.
  • Providing feedback is imperative. Unfortunately, all feedback is not created equal– in order to provide the right kind of feedback. Tell your candidate what you were looking for in your questions and explain the gap between the answer you wanted and the one they gave. Additionally, provide a recommendation for what the candidate should work on going forward.
  • Capture candidate feedback at the end of the process. In this way, you can stay abreast of candidates’ ongoing concerns and pain points throughout the process. Candidates, like all of us, appreciate being listened to. By simply giving them space to voice their reaction and listening appropriately, you can provide a much more welcoming and receptive environment.

Implementing these actions can be a quick and painless process, and will improve candidates’ interview experience enormously.

Greenhouse Webinar Recap

Hiring ten minority candidates to improve diversity metrics and appease public pressure is no way to establish strong company culture. The first step to creating a strong organizational culture is to instill a company mission of inclusivity.   What does inclusivity mean to you?  Do you want to flaunt numbers or do you want your company to thrive on multitude of contributions from its diverse workforce? Inclusion, in this context, means developing a atmosphere in which all employees can find a voice, respect and a means to grow! This is why inclusion must be first!!

Internal alignment is key.  Get Executive buy in!

Obviously building a dream team starts at the top. The executive team must see diversity as a priority! If diversity isn’t a real and actionable priority to the top brass then there is no hope for change. All company functions must be aligned toward a common goal of creating an inclusive workplace.  To move the needle everyone has to understand that filling the top of the funnel does not create a diverse organization.  The top of the funnel is simply the entry point for people into the hiring process… the question that must be asked is are all candidates given an equal chance to advance?

What if diversity is a circle, your company just favors squares.

Engineers at an intake meeting?!

Whenever you open a new position to hire HR, Recruiting, Engineering, and Business must come together for meeting.  This is the chance to establish the inclusive tone… If the hiring manager expresses the notion that they have some good options in network, it must use the same structured process.  Employee referrals are awesome, and help close quickly with known talent, however in the long run it does not promote diversity. This produces uniformity!

Like breeds like and the only way to foster change is to explore new avenues of success.  In this meeting it is critical to come armed with pipeline data. This will allow an organization to see people progress through hiring pipeline and show where new assets and initiatives may aid in creating a diverse workforce. Organizationally it must be recognized that hiring a diversity recruiter or buying access to a diversity database is akin to writing a 20 page research paper on the wrong topic if another aspect of the hiring funnel enforces bias.

It is critical to track diversity percentages at every stage of the pipeline. In order to find the area where diverse candidates are not progressing. From the companies I have worked with data shows that this generally occurs at the resume and phone screen stage often at the behest of a hiring manager.

If the top of the funnel shows a diverse selection of applicants than other areas of the process must be addressed.   Some red flags include hiring manager discretion and cultural fit. Any time cultural fit is mentioned it should be noted what aspect of the company ethics the candidate lacks. If the notes seem like social fit, is completely biased should have no bearing on the process.

Tools (Nikos Catchy Line)

Every organization has a tool to help with diversity! The main question is it supporting the function where there is need? If you see gender bias at the top of the pipeline Textio can help. Your job description may be biased and disenfranchising possible hires at the get go.

One of the most innovative tools referenced by Steve was Andela.  The idea that “talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not” had a profound relevance to me.  They provide top talent with resources to master their craft in Kenya and Nairobi then offer opportunities for remote work with top companies in the US.

This idea echoes our mission at Buzz, that people should be judged on skills not labels.  Once companies delve into the top of the funnel metric it will become apparent that quality candidates are falling out early on in the process. Many companies review less than 10% of inbound resumes!!

The only way to rectify this is fight unconscious bias by letting skills tell a person’s story early on.

So one of the many pleasures of launching a company like Buzz Technologies has been the folks who have mentored us along the way.  One of our strongest advocates has been my friend Steve Wells, Head of Talent at Twitter and he was nice enough to be featured on our webinar in conjunction with Greenhouse Software.