Tag Archives: recruitment

Recruiting is Not Like Dating – More Like House Hunting

In the mid 1990’s a prolonged discussion between myself and a hiring manager was going on about why he should select his top candidate. He had interviewed five candidates and told me he had a top choice so I felt that there was not a need to see additional candidates. I quickly thought of a comeback after he stated that his reason for wanting additional candidates was just to be sure he was making the right choice. Seeing his wedding ring I commented “…so, when you proposed to your wife did you tell her that she is the one but that to be sure you need some time to search the market?” His response was a friendly explicative then the ok to extend an offer to our top candidate.

From that point I had compared recruiting and dating off and on with hiring managers over the years. When blogging became popular within the recruitment space I read several articles/posts also making this comparison and wish I had started blogging sooner to trump those that had written and broadcasted my shared comparison.

I now disagree with this comparison. I think a better analogy to the job search for candidates and recruiters trying to find candidates is the house hunting (or apartment shopping) experience. Consider these:

  • People start their house hunting search by going to the internet and either doing a general Google search or going to a site like realtor.com
  • People have specific wants when trying to find a home – location, size, local amenities, school district, culture of the neighborhood
  • People conduct research on the home and neighborhood by viewing the potential residence on-line, reading reviews of the neighborhood (or builder), asking their friends or family members if they know anything about the  neighborhood
  • New listings receive a good bit of activity when first posted then the activity slows considerably with only serious shoppers taking a look

Recruiters and candidates are using similar tools to find, research and gauge if they want to learn more about each other in ways that house hunters and realtors operate.

There is also one other factor that many people forget during both types of searches. The little annoying detail that gets glossed over by company reputation, salary, benefits or that the little annoyance can be fixed once they start (think move in).

What most people do not realize is that the little annoyance becomes a major frustration because just like in an interview or house hunt it only showed up for a brief moment. It could be a light switch in an odd place, or a squeaky stair only stepped on once or twice – it could be a clunky application process or a quick comment that changes were made recently. In these cases the savvy seeker will question what they noticed and typically the recruiter will have their response prepared to put any concerns at bay. However, just like in a home, once within the company that little annoyance is now with you all the time, it grows into a major frustration.

As recruiters we try to brush over the annoyances that might turn a candidate off or away from our opportunity. Sometimes we are confused on why a top talent candidate did not stay with the organization for very long and when asked they state what appeared to be small concerns during the interview ended up becoming major distractions. When boiled down it is that classic “fit” argument. The recruiter should recognize if the fit is not there and the job seeker should as well and be willing to pass on the opportunity.

Candidates are becoming more and more savvy around the job search process and can find out information about organizations through many channels. As recruiters we are typically prepared to answer questions around the small annoyances and are just as savvy in convincing the top talent to join our organizations. My advice is that when a seeker does bring up minor points to treat them as major because those are the ones that will make or break their decision and if you are honest with the candidate it will help move your organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Recruiting – It Has (almost) Come Full Circle

The last four years has brought on a change within the recruitment industry – corporate and third party – that at the minimum has sparked conversation around brand, candidate experience, how candidates are sourced or how they find open positions. Several articles have been posted stating how much recruiting has changed and that certain aspects of it will fade away or (gasp) are already dead. To me, it appears to have come full circle – almost.

During the pre-internet/applicant tracking (ATS) timeframe the strategy to find top talent included:

  • targeted campaigns in print advertising with select outlets that would drive the right talent to mail or fax in a resume to the organization
  • partnerships with schools and career service centers for the intern and entry level roles that included campus visits, presentations, interview days, meetings with professors and campus groups
  • research of key professional associations, industry conferences, and either attending events or finding a way to receive a directory of members
  • effective employee referral programs

These were typically done through manual processes, phone calls, letters and monotonous work of opening each paper resume and quickly scanning for fit. I remember spending hours with hiring managers developing recruitment strategies around finding the right talent to apply to our print ads in various niche magazines and newspapers. We did not want hundreds of people to apply because that meant a large amount of work going through the responses.

When the internet and ATS usage gained speed and exploded in the late ’90’s the strategy changed a little but the core points above were still a strong foundation within recruitment plans. With the advent of key word search (boolean) on job boards and in ATS’s the mindset moved from ensuring the right talent applied to bring in as many as possible because maybe our methods before missed some really good talent. These systems could hold thousands of resumes and in time millions. Recruiters would brag to hiring managers that XX number of candidates applied to a posting and that number was typically in the hundreds. They would then add to their bragging that due to the internet or ATS technology they could whittle down the number to a select few and screen them for the role.

The use of the internet and ATS tools built a wall between the recruiter and the applicant. No longer was a fax number, mailing address or email address contained in postings. They were replaced with web site addresses or generic email addresses and phrases like “no phone calls please” or “no faxed or paper resumes accepted”. Recruiters (mostly corporate) were now behind a curtain that only privileged candidates who were contacted would be able to see behind it.

However, as the internet evolved and it moved from one-way communication to two way (web 2.0) recruiters were being exposed via tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google searches, or other on-line communities. Those that started in recruiting behind the curtain realized they needed to gain certain skills or use the skills they learned during college in social media settings to effectively communicate with candidates. The recruiters that started pre-internet spouted that the changes were not silver bullets but just another communication tool and recruiting is still the same thing as it was 15, 20, or 25 years ago.

I think it has evolved and is similar but a recruiter can be much more effective than pre-internet. The same foundation remains as my bullet points above. Take those points in today’s terms:

  • develop an employment branding campaign that will attract the right talent to your company – this could include social media, job boards, niche industry sites, video, mobile and believe it or not – print
  • university relations and campus programs that can now be managed through on-line tools directly with the school or through other tools that have significantly reduced the workload on building those partnerships but increasing the effectiveness of on-site visits
  • research of specific industry associations, contact lists and networking events can now be done in minutes instead of hours or days
  • automated employee referral campaigns making it easier for tracking, reporting and payments/recognition

There is a mantra I use in managing recruiters today that I know grates their nerves because it goes against the mindset of the “post and pray” days between 1999 – 2008. Less resumes, less interviews, more offers. That is how recruiting has almost come full circle. In 1995 I did not want 200 resumes mailed or faxed to me and today I do not want 200 resumes submitted to a non-high volume role. I want to make sure the role is marketed to the right candidate pool, enticing enough to have them apply and given today’s tools I can quickly and effectively identify top talent through the use of various internet resources. In addition, I want top talent to find me and connect with me about opportunities within my organization, no more curtain to stand behind.

As recruiters we have always adapted to new technologies and in some cases blown out the use of a tool that was not considered as it’s original intent. When developing a recruitment plan are you relying on spray and pray that will create a habit of sit and wait recruiting, or is it an active program that drives the right talent to your organization and a go out and seek mindset? I believe the latter will move your organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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A New Beginning

A whirlwind of activity the last two to three weeks for me. I have been working on a short term assignment for a cable company helping them find candidates for some of their key business class roles and at about the same time I started the interview process with a potential employer. My assignment officially ends tomorrow and I received the “official” offer today.

I am proud to announce that my personal job search has ended. I have accepted an offer from Comcast to be their Director of Talent Acquisition for their Freedom Region. This role is based just outside of Philadelphia and will be very similar to my previous position at Time Warner Cable in Texas. I am very excited because the interview process was quick, everyone I met or spoke with were impressive and overall the job and culture feel like a great fit.

This of course means that we will be relocating from Austin to the Philadelphia area. We will miss Austin. What a great town that we called home for three years. The people, unique restaurants, activities, culture, lakes, and the general Texas environment were spectacular. We never had a dull moment and felt like we only scratched the surface of what can be done in and around this city.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, leads, networking calls, emails, Twitter posts, Facebook posts, words of encouragement, resume tips and reviews. I would especially like to thank Kim Hollenshead, Bryan Chaney, Right Management’s Jo Lineberry, Recruiting Animal, Porter Shifflett, Susan Strayer, Michael Goldberg, William Uranga, Glenn Warner, Martha Bartlett (she referred me to a Comcast recruiter who sent my name on – extra thanks Martha!), Melissa White, Juan Munoz and Seth Feit. Without your actions the past five months might have been brutal but instead it was a very positive experience.

We are looking forward to a new beginning in my career, a new place to live and the experiences yet to come. The kids are looking forward to snow days again. My wife is looking forward to her job search in a new city. I am also looking forward to meeting the team, the challenges and rewards and having an impact on the TA function to help Comcast move forward.

Now it’s time to update my LI profile!

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Are You Productive or Just Looking Busy?

A CEO of a small firm I used to work for told me, as he handed me an out of cycle stock option grant “You are the type of employee I like. You are not one of those that spends his day looking busy and talking a big game, you get it done – you are productive.” For this reason I was granted an additional 25,000 options as the sole recruiter and I had just finished assisting the organization in filling 100 positions across multiple disciplines in less than six months. I felt great. I had made my mark and had an impact on an organization where my efforts were recognized.

That was 10 years ago, the options never amounted to anything and the company went bust with the rest of the tech companies around that time. However, the CEO’s comments have never left me for a couple of reasons:

  • As a recruiter I know that we are a cost/overhead – and no matter what arguments are presented we are what we are and not a revenue center – so I have to outperform my revenue peers in supporting them to ensure that they can generate as much revenue as possible
  • To be recognized by a CEO, no matter the size of the firm, not only validated what I was trying to accomplish as a recruiter but has motivated me to NOT be that employee just looking busy

To keep myself motivated I have forced myself to have a structured day.  I am naturally unorganized and a go with the flow type person – the hundred or so assessments have confirmed this time and time again – but when it comes to my profession I am very organized.  Organized in how I will approach a new requisition, old requisition, research of new tools and implementation of tools.  It is painful and sometimes very challenging for me but the payoff is well worth it.   

I ask myself a lot of questions during the day – goofy, yes but it keeps me focused – they are usually along the lines of these:

What you are working on right now, is it adding valuing to the organization?  Is it helping you complete personal or departmental goals?

Am I working as efficiently and effectively as possible?

Have you analyzed your work day to see what is truly producing results for the company and what is just busy work?  Do you know the difference?

When was the last time you asked for feedback from your hiring managers about your performance, or how the recent new hires are doing?  It’s scary but the reward will be a much stronger working relationship that will make the next placement that much easier.

Do you promise your candidates or hiring managers’ follow-up but then fail to do so?  Guess what, your credibility now equals that sludge at the bottom of the break room coffee filter. 

When was the last time you sent them a productivity report of your recruitment activities?  Did it bring them value and build the relationship?  If you did not receive a thank you or nice job response you missed the mark.

I hope this helps because we all know and witness the people that love to look busy but are really only collecting a paycheck – while those of us that produce have far more job satisfaction and enjoy moving our companies forward.

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It’s a Garden Not a Grocery Store

Over the last two weeks I have used this analogy when talking to recruiters within my company that recruiting via the social networks is more like a garden and not a grocery store. It seems to have connected with them and I know there are hundreds of other analogies out there describing “social recruiting” and this one just came out of my mouth during a conversation. My point is when a recruiter is using the social networks to find candidates and engage them either in conversation or to direct source, the mindset is different than before.

This change in mindset is a challenge for me. I am used to the grocery store approach where I would go to my company resume database and search those that directly applied or to a job board database and pick out the candidates I felt were the most qualified and contact them. This is like going to the store where you know what you need and in what aisle it is located. The choice is then determined on fit, price and need. Do I go “generic” because the salary range will not allow me to select the name brand? What store seems to carry the best produce that is fresh?

Now, with social recruiting, the mindset feels more like planting a garden. I am doing research on where should I connect with people, setting a strategy with goals that need to be very flexible and seeing where I might want to go for future needs. Unlike the grocery store, the people I am connecting with are not necessarily looking for a new position and will most likely wither away if I over fertilize them with job opportunities.

There are hundreds, maybe a thousand posts on what a recruiter should do in the social network space – listen, engage, ask questions then approach. I do not disagree with this approach, but the recruiter mindset changes in this environment. There is rarely a quick hit or a one and done phone call, but more of a chain of connections through one or multiple networks. It is not a mindset of post and pray or wait and see but going out, seeking and being vulnerable. It is a mindset that I had when I first started recruiting and in order to find candidates I had to cold call, develop leads and relationships and attend networking events in person.

To me we have come full circle with our transparency, engagement, social networks and connecting. The key difference now is that it is so much easier than digging through phone books, association directory books and cold calling into companies. Now I can “lurk”, listen, perform far better research and searches before making the decision to contact. I can follow someone and determine if they really are a guru, expert, rock star or ninja (all terms I dislike) and then decide whether to contact or hit the unfollow button.

As you conduct your searches and social recruiting tactics remember the mindset is different – it’s not a store but a garden. By changing the mindset you can move your company forward.

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#socialrecruiting summit – my recap

I returned from Minneapolis where Best Buy hosted the third #socialrecruiting summit at their headquarters.  My overall impression is another solid event put on by ERE with some reservations – check that – concerns for future events.

I had tough decisions all day on which concurrent sessions I should attend.  Some decisions were based on the description and some were based purely on the speaker.  The good news is that I will be able to watch the videos and based on the Twitter stream #socialrecruiting I never felt that I made the wrong choice.

As is true with all conferences the conversations between sessions and during the networking/happy hours tend to provide the most value for attending the event.  In addition to finally meeting in person Paul DeBettignies (@MNHeadhunter), Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter), Launce Haun (@thelance), Kris Dunn (@Kris_Dunn), Joel Cheeseman (@cheezhead) and Glen Cathey (@BooleanBlackBlt) I met some very interesting new people.  People that are just dipping their toes into the space or maybe have been at it a while but have had limited exposure due to a variety of reasons. 

During the post summit happy hour and after making the rounds with those I already knew fairly well I did my typical move – I walked around until I found a group where I did not know anyone and introduced myself.  I met four people coming from a variety of industries and stories of the challenges they face using the social tools.  We started interviewing each other and then the brainstorming began on how to solve or change the approach to hopefully yield better results.  Thanks to John Creech, Michelle Topolinsky, Marianne Kulka and Marni Hockenberg for your friendliness, professionalism and sense of humor.

The concurrent sessions were very informative, thought provoking and well delivered.  As the day progressed it was easy to see that the speakers were borrowing comments from each other and an underlying tone was that a strategy was necessary before getting into social media.  This is very interesting because just this past November at the second summit the rally cry was go rogue!  When it comes to social media, jump in, experiment, find out what is and isn’t allowed and push the envelope in order to move your organization ahead.  That was all thrown out the window a mere six months later.

My concern is that the small to medium companies were not taken into consideration or those large organizations that do not have sizeable recruitment budgets.  The presentations I heard would be more suited for the Fortune 100 organizations or organizations that have such strong brand recognition but not sure how to approach social media.  I heard from too many attendees representing the small to medium company that what they were hearing was never achievable whether it is time, resources or funds.  Personally, I think a true “unconference” session would be to ask a small organization to come and talk about what they are doing, what are the limitations and then let the audience help them figure it out – crowd source a solution not just for the case study but for several of the attendees.

I am looking forward to reading pages of notes, watching the videos and re-reading the Twitter feed to digest the great ideas, comments and recommendations because when I do I know I will be better able to move my company forward.

Oh and never ask Paul Jacobs the New Zealander to imitate a (American) Southern accent – I think my ears are still bleeding. Good on ya Paul, Matt Alder and Glen for hanging at the bar after everyone left – the conversation was priceless.

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