Tag Archives: strategy

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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Heisman In The Workplace?

Over the last few years I have read plenty about “top talent” and how to recruit for these elusive candidates or organizations will go into a death spiral never to recover and fall off the face of the earth. While I agree that companies can fail because of poor talent in the ranks or the lack of leadership within the top ranks, I disagree with the notion that certain sources or certain types of candidates are the best available.

Unlike the sports and entertainment world where there are a finite number of players with a very formal funnel process in place to ensure that the best of the best win awards and supposedly make it on our TV screens, ipods or tablets, the “working world” does not have such a process. We do not have the Heisman, Golden Glove, MVP, All-Star, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Tony awards. We have an infinite pool of workers and it is nearly impossible to determine who the best of the best is and even then it is subjective. There is not an annual awards show that comes on during prime time viewing to go through the various categories. Business magazines and blogs may try to rank individuals but each one has their own method of ranking and usually there is some kind of flaw or a “pay to play” nomination process.

The common question I see out on LinkedIn group discussions, or blog sites is “how do I know I am attracting top talent”? In my opinion the question comes from those that lack confidence in their ability to recruit effectively, or feel that they are somehow missing out on something, believing the hype about passive vs active or secret sources versus common candidate pools.

As a recruiter if you know your company culture, understand the business/industry, believe in where the organization is going and can identify a solid slate of candidates that meet the requirements, have documented success in their field and fit the culture then you have identified top talent. Keep in mind how many Heisman trophy winners failed miserably at the NFL level. Sure some have gone on and done great things and the point is that though someone may have top talent within their organization it does not mean they will be in yours.

When I conduct a search I look for key things on the resume that will give me insight but I keep in mind the candidate created the resume. Therefore, when I pre-screen them I challenge them on points, make them explain the projects or claims of success listed and rarely accept answers at face value. It is my role to investigate the candidate and flush them out. I pick up on nuances while they explain their answers to determine fit or see if there is something I should ask to ensure I have as complete a picture of the candidate as possible.

It would be great if when someone applied they were ranked like tennis or golf players by looking at a central list of every player. Our roles would be very different. We would be more like sports and entertainment scouts with contracts and exclusivity and less like investigators with a sales twist. We do not have the rankings on every accountant, sales person, call center rep, or recruiter.

So, we do our best to source, screen and identify the best available talent for our organizations. This means that I will evaluate candidates from any source, keep abreast of industry trends, not dismiss a candidate because of the source or status and not get caught up in hype but evaluate its fit into my sourcing strategy. By doing this I will move my organization forward confident I have identified great talent.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Can Sourcing Be Automated?

Recently I delivered a webinar for the Human Capital Institute called “Is Your Sourcing Stuck In Manual?” It was an interesting webinar for me to develop because when I was contacted by Amy Lewis from HCI we had mostly talked about process improvement within a corporate recruitment environment. Amy came back after our initial discussion and suggested the theme of how process improvement could impact the sourcing function. I agreed that it does have a significant impact on the recruiter’s ability to effectively source. The title suggests that the sourcing function could be automated and it can be to a certain degree but it will always require a human element to evaluate fit.

The key points I discussed centered on the need for:

*a documented sourcing strategy that is approached methodically
*sharing the strategy with the hiring clients to build partnerships and potentially uncover new sources
*a streamlined process that is constantly reviewed and a drive to reduce inefficiencies
*the review of the recruiter’s structure for the day and time management approach to their requisitions
*research on a regular basis new tools that can increase efficiency or replace outdated tools

I realize that this is not new or groundbreaking information. By focusing on the five points and eliminating as much wasteful time, policies, or process roadblocks the corporate recruiter should then have ample amount of time to source for talent. Once they have the time then how they use it effectively is the next step.

If you are a leader, in my opinion, then a goal should be to help remove these barriers. If you are a front-line recruiter, take the initiative and ensure your approach to the day, reqs and sourcing is the most effective and efficient it can be for you and your organization.

A recruiter today has access to many tools that help search their company database and the broader internet. The tools can automate the sourcing function to a certain degree by helping cut through the thousands of profiles available. However, the recruiter still needs to know how to create an effective search string and have a strong sense of curiosity to keep digging and not just accept the first returns.

I greatly enjoyed delivering my first webinar outside of an employer and I hope the savvy attendees were able pick up a couple of take-a-ways that will help move their companies forward.

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