How do I validate tests?

Tests that fail a disproportionate percentage of members in a protected class may have an adverse impact and therefore may be considered discriminatory unless validated. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doesn't require that tests be ''validated,'' your company could be held accountable for validating the tests used if it can be shown that they produce an adverse impact.

As a result, all tests should be validated according to the Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures (1978) published by the EEOC. The Guidelines make it clear that any selection process that adversely affects employment opportunities for any protected group must be validated if possible. All testing instruments, whether published or employer created, should be checked for relatedness to job duties. This needs to be done for each type of position.

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An employer policy or practice (like testing) may cause a disproportionate adverse impact on the employment opportunities of any race, sex, disability, or ethnic group if the selection rate for that protected group (say, women) is less than four-fifths, or 80 percent, of the selection rate for the group with the highest selection rate (for example, white males).

If adverse impact has been established, you should consider test validation for job requirements and performance. Three validation methods have been approved by the EEOC:

- Content validity studies establish that the content of the test is consistent with the job's duties and responsibilities. A typing test for secretarial candidates, for example, has content validity.

- Criterion validity studies, in comparison, measure the relationship between the test scores and some measure of job performance. A test is considered valid if there is a significant statistical correlation between the test results and the individual's job performance.

- Finally, construct validity studies are complex and not used very often. This testing methodology attempts to correlate a match between the test taker's individual characteristics and a job's requirements (for example, leadership).

Keep in mind that pre-employment tests must adhere to the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If these tests tend to screen out those with disabilities, then the company will have the burden of proving that the exams are job related and consistent with business necessity. Even if the test is job related and consistent with business necessity, you'll still have to provide a reasonable accommodation for the test takers if their disability prevents them from taking the test or negatively influences test results. Possible accommodations include modifying the test or testing conditions or even eliminating the testing requirement altogether.

Therefore, you should always check with federal and state laws and regulations before implementing pre-employment testing programs. Employment lawyers and testing professionals will help you through this somewhat complicated field of the law. Remember as well that testing should supplement, not supplant, your decision to hire or reject candidates. After all, the purpose of aptitude testing is not to tell you whom to hire; it is to tell you whom you are hiring.

What are the benefits of working with recruitment advertising agencies?

Recruitment advertising agencies are a wonderful resource to help you attract quality candidates, lower your company's cost-per-hire, and provide value-added services that save you significant time. Recruitment ad agencies come in all shapes and sizes, from sole proprietors to large corporations with thousands of employees and offices in all corners of the globe. Traditionally known only for helping companies place ad copy in newspapers, these consulting firms have broadened their services to include:

- Branding and employment image development

- Sourcing and recruitment strategies in print, broadcast, and the Internet

- Market, media, and competitor research

- Internet data mining

- Web site development, hosting, and maintenance

- Resume database and applicant tracking systems (including response handling and activity reports)

- Salary surveys and relocation comparisons

- Executive and contingency search, as well as recruitment contracting services

- Focus group research

In short, the benefits of working with such marketing partners could be incredibly valuable to your company.

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Because traditional help-wanted classified ads are seeing a significant decline in their effectiveness, alternative marketing and branding strategies are becoming necessary to attract talented candidates. Recruitment ad agencies will help your company develop ''Run of Paper" (also known as ''Run of Press'') ads that are printed outside the classified ad section (for example, in the business, sports, or main event sections of a newspaper) in order to reach a more targeted demographic. National advertising agencies will have insights into particular markets that could prove very valuable to your expanding business.

In addition, larger ad agencies have the research capability and available human resources to learn all about your company from the outset. They will thoroughly study what staffing strategies you have been using and to what degree you have been successful. Turnover analysis will reveal where you're losing the most people. Cost-per-hire studies will show where you're getting the most bang for your buck in terms of your recruitment spending. And, for an additional fee, group exit interviews can be conducted by the agency to learn where the real management or compensation problems are— issues you might not be hearing about directly from your departing employees.

Free services typically include media recommendations, customized activity reports, and secondary (i.e., prepublished) market research. Charges for agency services may include the following:

- If a media rate is "noncommissionable" (in other words, the newspaper won't pay the agency its 15 percent commission), that 15 percent markup will probably be passed along to you, the client.

- Certain invoices may include a line service charge to help the agency offset the costs of copywriting, creative, research, and ad placement that are part of the basic fee structure.

- Production costs for display ads typically cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per inch depending on column length size. (Of course, you will have to pay separately for media space, which can run $50 a line or $300 a column inch in a major metropolitan newspaper.)

- Internet postings may be marked up to $50 plus the cost of the ad.

- Creative services such as creative direction, design print, copywriting, or HTML may cost from $100 to $150 per hour.

- Separately stated charges may include fax, telephone, production, typesetting, photostat, finished art, Federal Express charges, or other administrative fees.

One other thing: As you're asking questions to prospective vendors about these costs, be sure to find out whether their account people are salaried or commissioned. Remember, commissioned salespeople make more money if you run bigger ads because they get a piece of the sale; salaried account executives, on the other hand, have nothing to gain by making a client's ads larger than necessary. That could benefit you over the long term.

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