I’ve been advocating the use of the iPod as a metaphor for better hiring practices. If you have an iPod, you know that it’s much more than a music player. It’s a complete, integrated music system. You can quickly download music and podcasts, burn CDs, and plug it into your car, home music system or Bose speaker set. You don’t even have to read the instructions to do any of this stuff and get great music anytime, anywhere. By comparison, most hiring processes resemble a group of independent activities that no one even thought about integrating. IT provides minimal support to the candidate tracking system, which only loosely ties to the HRIS. Managers, recruiters, and other interviewers assess candidates using different criteria, and many aren’t very good at it anyway. In many companies, the selection process is less intense than the expense reimbursement policy. Competencies and behavior models are often in conflict, and they don’t tie to the real performance requirements of the job anyway. To make matters worse, candidates are treated as commodities, not potential future employees. This is apparent with poorly written advertising, difficulty in finding and applying for jobs, and a minimalist approach to candidate customer service when they do finally get involved. So if you’re not finding enough top candidates, collectively this is probably the reason. No wonder third-party recruiters are having a field day. If you were to prioritize every single hiring issue you have, and develop a project plan that would result in a completely integrated system in the next 12 months, where would you start first? My vote is with hiring managers. They are the weakest link in the chain. We just completed our Recruiting and Hiring Challenges 2005 Survey (http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB224DP4PX42X) to gain a sense of this. [Note: The survey is still ongoing and you can still take it yourself. I'll be hosting a free online conference to discuss the results on Thursday, August 4, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. PT. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-878-1388 to sign up.] Bottom line: Everyone found fault with their hiring manager clients. As a result, they suffered from moving job spec syndrome, had to redo searches over again, and had to find more candidates than necessary to complete their assignments. From my perspective, some of this complaining is unwarranted ó but much of it has merit. Over the past few weeks, I’ve conducted interview training programs for hiring managers in a variety of industries and positions. These ranged from auto dealers, financial advisors for investment products, electronic design engineers, bank tellers, jet pilots, and even students who give away free samples of Red Bull. My estimate is that only about 25% of the managers involved were good at interviewing. The bigger problem: over 75% thought they were. One senior executive even came up to me and said he had a great sense for talent, but wasn’t seeing enough top people. His belief was that the problem was sourcing, not interviewing. This is not an uncommon belief among the hiring manager community, and in its own way is the reason why companies work much too hard solving the wrong problem. Even if the recruiting department is perfect at sourcing, recruiting and assessment, overall the company can only be as good as its hiring managers. Surprisingly, even those who used competency models or behavioral interviewing fared no better than those who used gut feelings. When I asked these managers to rank their teams on an ABC scale, most indicated they had plenty of Cs and that they spent most of their time pushing them to become Bs. So on a big-picture viewpoint, why spend more time strengthening a stronger link in the chain (the recruiting department), when you have a link (hiring manager and other interviewers) that’s already broken? I’d like to use the iPod system analogy as a way to demonstrate how to do this. Let’s focus first on the music itself. Imagine an orchestra or band with each musician playing a different piece of music. Collectively, it’s going to sound pretty bad, even if you have the finest musicians in the world. In the world of hiring, the job description represents the sheet music. When I asked these hiring managers I was training what the person taking the same job had to do, everyone had a different idea. For sales, sometimes the answer was prospect, sometimes it was create a great customer experience, sometimes it was make quota, sometimes it was make 15 presentations a week. For engineering design, sometimes it was creative problem-solving, sometimes it was preparing design specs with marketing, sometimes it was designing. Regardless of the position, very few people agreed on the details, although 100% said they knew the job. This corresponded to our survey. Some 75% of respondents believed they knew the real job needs. Believing you know the real job is the real problem. The real job depends on what the person needs to do every day. This depends on the culture, the resources, the circumstances, the manager, the rest of the team, the territory, the stage of the project, the budget, the plan, the restraints, and so on. Starting to look for people to fill the real job when you don’t know the real job is like designing a product when you have incomplete specs ó or having everyone in the band playing different music. Having a different measurement standard is the reason why everyone can have a different perspective on the same candidate. If you want to make hiring a system, everybody must first start playing from the same sheet music, and it’s not the traditional job description. I’d suggest a performance profile as a way to communicate the real job to everyone involved. A performance profile lists the six to eight performance objectives of the job in priority order. For a sales rep, typical performance objectives are things like preparing a territory plan, identifying 10 potential customers per week, making five formal presentations per week, and closing three orders per month. For a software developer, some typical performance objectives are developing the GUI for the online application using Flash, completing a design plan for formal review in three weeks, coordinating the product specs with marketing, and completing and launching the interface within 120 days. With this list of things a person taking the actual job needs to do, it must be reviewed and agreed upon by everyone involved in the hiring process. Now everyone is reading from the same sheet music, leaving little room for ambiguity. Now each person on the hiring team (hiring manager, other interviewers, recruiter) must all be capable of playing the music. For hiring, this means conducting a formal assessment of the candidate’s competency and motivation to do the work. Read my one-question interview article (http://www.erexchange.com/articles/db/652B83B36BAC11D582F900105A12D660.asp) if you’d like more on this, but the essence is to ask the candidate to describe his or her most significant accomplishments in great depth. Spending 10 or so minutes each on three to four major accomplishments allows the interviewer to then compare the candidate’s accomplishments to actual job needs. During the fact-finding and peeling-the-onion process, behaviors, competencies and skills are quickly and naturally observed. Strong candidates like this interview method, since they have a chance to brag about themselves. Weaker candidates with few accomplishments find this approach uncomfortable, since in the past they’ve been able to get by on presentation and personality. A formal deliberative assessment needs to be part of the selection process. All interviewers must be required to justify their rankings, good or bad, based on facts, not feelings or emotions. Most companies don’t formally close this loop, leaving the necessity for conducting an accurate assessment up to the whim of the hiring manager rather than a higher authority. I’d even suggest that managers pass a competency test before they’re allowed to interview candidates. Now you need to get the audience to attend the concert. In this case, the audience is the top people you want to attract. If you’re not seeing enough good people, it’s probably because you’re advertising to the wrong audience with bad music. As an example, read your online advertising. Most of it is boring, describing what the company wants in terms of skills and experiences, not what a top person wants ó a better job! So if you want to hire better people, you need to offer better jobs, and if you want to hire great people you need to offer great jobs. This is what having an integrated system means. As part of this, better candidates also want to work for better managers. So if you have average managers, you’re probably hiring average people. Better managers and better jobs are the one-two punch in hiring better people, which is why this is where most of your focus should be. It starts by requiring managers to write better job descriptions emphasizing opportunities over requirements, describing a compelling employee value proposition, and highlighting what the person will be doing. Put the minimum list of skills and requirements at the bottom, barely visible. Then make sure you make these jobs easy to find. Reverse engineer your process and figure out how most good people look for work ó they probably use Google, a few key words, and a location. Do your jobs appear? Are they compelling? So to make hiring more iPod-like, start at the source: hiring managers. Get them to describe the compelling nature of the job. Teach them how to conduct a performance-based interview. Then start advertising to the right audience. Before you know it, you’ll have more than enough top candidates and you’ll be able to begin working on another weak link in the hiring chain.
This week, we once again continue our analysis of the case I presented a few weeks ago about a recruiting director named Ross and the challenges he faces as he grows the recruiting function in a medium-sized, fast-growing organization. Today I will focus on what a “new” or modern recruiting function should look like and what roles recruiters play. Many readers gave their opinions on these questions, and I have included them along with my own commentary. The primary response was simple and powerful: Recruiters need to be business-oriented and deeply understand the business. One reader wrote, “Become the recruiting business partner who has a seat at the table. To maximize effectiveness, recruiting needs vision, knowledge, and an ear so that plans can be implemented by recruiting staff.” Another wrote, “I would add to Ross’s ‘new’ recruiting approach a specific effort on the part of the recruiting staff to really get to know the internal hiring management community and the corporate business plan. By doing this they can deliver the correct resources sooner.” More and more recruiters are becoming talent managers and advisors. They are being asked for talent supply information and for data about turnover, possibility of internal placements for key jobs, what the best geography is to find talent, and so forth. This requires a recruiter with a much different background and set of competencies than ten years ago. The abilities to conduct interviews and be administratively efficient are less important than market and supply chain knowledge. Recruiters with broad market knowledge, large personal networks, the ability to build talent pools, and the ability to educate and persuade managers and candidates are the ones who will remain employed and successful for the next decade. Several readers felt that the recruiting function could be split into two parts: one to do the usual recruiting activities of screening, interviewing, dealing with hiring managers, scheduling and so forth ó and another part to focus on sourcing. As one reader told me:
The traditional recruitment model should be broken down into two distinct roles: recruiters and sourcers. Recruiters are the key business partners and leaders. They absolutely embody and represent the company culture. They are responsible for driving workforce planning, requisition management, interviews, offers, business partnering with key stakeholders, internal transfers, and referrals. Sourcers are also key business partners and leaders. They too represent and market the company culture. But they are volume focused, providing real-time market analysis expertise during workforce planning sessions. They are both identification experts (using the Internet, networking, cold-calling, name generation) as well as industry experts.
In this article, I am going to address only folks who want to know more about the benefits of hiring the right employees but are uncertain how to explain the need to management. I strongly believe the future belongs to HR people who:
- Value verifiable facts more than unsupported opinions.
“Have your people call my people. We’ll do sushi.” No, I don’t mean relationships like the Hollywood kissy-kissy sushi gathering above. I mean real relationships. It’s a cliche, of course, to say that recruiting is all about relationships. But it’s a cliche because it’s true. Why? I’ve talked so often about your value as a staffing professional recruiter to the company you work for. This time I want to talk about your value to yourself, to the world at large. Because when it comes to that, for recruiters, it’s all about relationships. “Okay, but what does that mean, Jeremy?” What that means is that your success is dependent upon your ability to go out and connect with people to get information you need, to give information to others so you preserve your pipeline, and to deal with difficult situations when conflict arises. Right now, in the world of staffing and recruiting, there’s lot of talk about technology, tools, the power of the Internet, blah, blah, blah. That’s all well and good ó I’ll touch upon those tools later ó but the point is they’re tools, tools to get you to the most important thing: Talking and connecting with other people. So it’s time to get back to basics in the world of recruiting, because in this world, there is one fact that is unalienable: Great recruiters, the ones who stand out and succeed, are great relationship-builders. Here’s the thing about building relationships: You can’t wait for them to come to you. Just because you’re a service provider either inside or outside an organization, that doesn’t mean you should wait for the service to come to you. The best internal recruiters I have ever seen are the inquisitive, proactive ones, the ones who don’t wait for the hiring managers to call but pick up the phone and talk to people running the various businesses to understand the issues, goals, and objectives of their divisions. “How can we do that? We’re too busy,” you respond? Well it turns out that if you make time to do this, you actually save yourself time later on, because when the requisition does come in, you already understand many elements of the need. As an example, I hired someone once whom I knew was a great recruiter but who had no experience in the business area she joined. She came in and made it her job to know that business on her own. She didn’t wait for the requisition order; she sought out key people in operations to help her understand the business. She did a lot of this in her off hours. When she first started, she would do this two or three times a week. Soon, not only was she well prepared to be a business partner to the managers, she became respected. She went on “their turf” and made the division managers comfortable ahead of time. These are just the kinds of activities recruiters think they don’t have time for. But if they don’t make time, eventually they’ll lose. Whenever I talk about real relationships, not the kissy-kissy Hollywood ones, recruiters always fidget uncomfortably, because to deal with and develop relationships with any substance means to deal with conflict and difficult situations. Staffing professionals and recruiters hate this because, as we all know, recruiters like to be liked! By nature, recruiters are not set up for conflict and confrontation. But we must get over this and disarm the big green scary monster over the hill. You know what I’m talking about: bad relationships. There are a couple of different types of bad relationships I’d like to address. The first are ones that we often times generate, in the form of candidates whom we need to sign off; the second are the ones that we must deal with: those who have a negative bias towards recruiting inside of an organization. Maintaining Relationships With Candidates You Turn Down Regarding the former, there was some myth created by someone in the ’70s (it had to be, because they were old school) that says never give bad news to a candidate and tell them they won’t be going any further in a search. This had to have been created by a recruiter, because only a recruiter, in their desire to be liked, would avoid the off chance of conflict in this way (conflict, by the way, that only comes up perhaps 5% of the time ó but just the chance of that is enough). The truth is, while many recruiters indeed don’t follow up and close the loop with unsuccessful candidates, this has the opposite effect of relationship building. It alienates former prospects. What recruiters have to remember is that every time we talk to candidates, it holds the potential for a possible relationship in the future. Candidates don’t go away, so it’s vital that if they won’t be going any further in a search, the recruiter must call them (not email or letter) to turn them down. All that needs to be said is that the hiring manager decided to pursue candidates he or she felt were more appropriate. If there is a specific skill set that’s missing, that can be mentioned to. Here’s one of my favorite experiences: Once, I was hiring a vice president of human resources for a division of a large company I was with, and I had built a relationship with a candidate who interviewed and ultimately didn’t get the job. Six months later, there was another opening, so I called him again. He came in, went through a fifteen interview process, and again, still didn’t get the role. But each time, he appreciated my honest and direct feedback in following up as to why he didn’t get the role. Still, he appreciated my candor. Eventually, he moved on and got another job, and I moved on and did a variety of my own things as well. But we always kept in touch. So when I started my consulting business many years ago, I called him and he engaged me for a two-and-a-half year project, all because our relationship is based on how things were handled during his two unsuccessful attempts at joining my prior company. Dealing With Bias Against Recruiting The other type of bad relationship is a little trickier: Dealing with those in your company who have a negative bias towards recruiting. This isn’t a bad relationship really, because chances are you don’t know them and they don’t know you. This is simply a bad impression. But there is a way to turn this bad impression into a relationship tool and have it work to your benefit. When I was at a technology company, there were some who hated recruiting and others who loved it. But there was one person in particular who was very talented as a technologist but a nasty screamer when it came to internal staffing. Since this was an important person in the company, my job was to disarm him. How did I do that? I involved him. I put together an internal “advisory board,” where I brought together those who hated us the most with those who loved us the most, and engaged them in a dialogue. I posed various questions to them, including: “What should we be doing to improve our standing? What would you need to see that would enhance our credibility?” Eventually, the screamer stopped screaming long enough to give us his thoughts. We were already doing much of what was suggested, but that’s not the point. Just by engaging him in dialogue, we now had him vested in the process. Eventually, he ended up helping us solve the problem. After that, he had some ownership in our staffing efforts and eventually became an evangelist. Undoubtedly, the best relationships are the ones you foster that benefit you both and that can help you achieve your end goal of becoming a business partner in the business and increasing your own personal value substantially. Here are some other tips and tools for fostering good relationships:
- It goes both ways! Remember, always remember, that the networking game goes both ways. If you’re looking for someone to help you build your network, you have to be able to give something up to do that. It could be proactively helping them, but more likely it could be as simple as following up with them on the people to whom they referred you or looking back with them to update them on the people they know. Follow up is the magical seed that sprouts in unexpected ways.
Calculating the cost of a vacancy (COV) is a critical activity, one that’s necessary to determine the actual business impact of talent shortages that result from a gap between the time talent is needed and the time required by the recruiting function to supply such talent. As a metric, it can be configured to measure the dollar impact of voluntary turnover and involuntary turnover, or the impact of a slow recruiting process that’s incapable of meeting the organizations growing talent needs. Calculating COV is critical, because organizations are unlikely to place the requisite emphasis on addressing recruitment issues if they are unaware of the negative impact such vacancies may be generating. So many organizations these days have become so laser-focused on cost containment that they often overlook the possible longer-term detrimental impacts their actions regarding talent may have. This is especially true in organizations where the HR budget is controlled by a CFO who continues to see the function largely as an administrative one. Cost-focused organizations end up seeing a position vacancy as a short-term reduction in expenses; after all, salaries do show up on the balance sheet as an expense (not an investment.) That’s why it’s so critical to demonstrate the business impact of not having a performing employee in key positions. Even the dumbest finance person realizes that without having a single employee, no matter what the cost savings, the firm would produce zero revenue. If you have the time, I strongly recommend that your organization calculates the actual costs of having a vacancy in key roles. In some key jobs ó particularly in industries where time to market is a key factor in driving corporate success ó the cost of a single vacancy has been calculated to be between $7,000 and $12,000 per day. In one unique case, it was as high as $200,000 per day. Unfortunately, calculating the actual COV for all positions in an organization would be ultra complex and time consuming, which is why many organizations opt to use a simplified formula that estimates the cost. (For key roles, should you want to calculate the actual cost, many of the factors you would need to include in your formula are discussed later in this article.) It is important to note that there is no magic or even standardized formula for the calculation of the cost of a vacancy, because the factors that must be considered are largely dependent upon the position, the industry, and the current stage in the product lifecycle. Whatever formula you select, be sure to develop it in conjunction with the finance department. Their early involvement is essential, in that it adds credibility to your calculations and preemptively eliminates any resistance or doubt they would cast on your efforts otherwise. Part 1: The Simplest Formulas If you just want a simple, direct means of calculating COV, here are a few basic formulas you can use:
- Average revenue per lost employee. When you have no position-specific data available, take the company’s revenue per employee (which is the company’s total revenue divided by the number of employees) and divide that by the number of working days in a year (220). This provides you with the average revenue produced by an employee on a daily basis. The principal here is that if an employee is not in place, you cannot generate the revenue that that one employee would have generated on average.
Since the beginning of the year I’ve spoken with over 500 corporate recruiters, asking them to describe their biggest hiring challenges. As part of this, we also conducted a Recruiting and Hiring Challenges 2005 Survey to get a better understanding of what’s really happening and to see if any major trends were developing. [Note: The survey is still ongoing and you can still take it yourself. We'll be having a free online conference to discuss the results on Thursday, August 4, 2005, at 11:00 a.m. PT. Email me (email@example.com) or call (888) 878-1388 to sign up.] Here are some of the findings so far:
- Just about everybody contends that they’re not seeing enough strong candidates, and things are getting worse.
I spoke the other day to a midsize group of recruiting professionals on guerilla recruiting tactics and high-touch talent relationship management. After asking several questions of the group regarding their most critical recruiting challenges, I asked what they hoped to learn from our session. The answers I received all focused on process improvements, technology enhancements, and ways to use the Internet better to find candidates. I knew it was going to be an interesting morning. It became very apparent that I was in a room full of recruiters who were far to involved in process and not concerned enough about results. It dawned on me later that their challenges ó or, more importantly, their perceived solutions to the challenges ó were not unlike what I hear from most HR-type recruiters. Being so process driven, they have become short sighted in solving real world recruiting challenges. The HR recruiters at my presentation all wanted some elusive magic formula to solve their recruiting woes. They all asked for more technology, more data mining tools, more social networking tools. “Give me the keys to the recruiting kingdom,” they sang in unison. Well, they didn’t actually sing, but if you added a little music to their questions and cries for help the rhythm of the discussion was already in place. More and more recruiters have forgotten, or never really knew in the first place, the true art and craft of recruiting. They read all the great ideas and theories from ERE authors and other recruiting industry leaders, try a few of them (often failing at the execution of the ideas), and then give up in frustration, returning to the less effective yet more comfortable stability of resumes, job boards, and Internet searches. I see more and more recruiters banging away at their keyboards, conducting one more search to find a few more names. Recruiters are becoming too reliant on data, rather than strong relationships, as the best source of high performing talent. Today’s recruiter frequently squanders resources already available by failing to leverage relationships into referrals. I don’t blame them totally. They are promised great things from the Internet wonks and technology gurus. These empty promises have resulted in the true art of recruiting becoming an endangered species. The craft has gotten lost in the minutia. The best talent, as Dr. John Sullivan recently wrote, has to be searched out and found, and all the technology in the world won’t solve the problem that name generation is only a name. So what is the next great “weapon” in the war for talent? It is the innovative, creative, and hard-working recruiters who see their work as an art, not just a job. These recruiters are no longer content with letting the recruiting profession remain an entry-level position into HR; they instead see it as a role that everyone could or should aspire to. The great ones get this. The traditional HR recruiters, and many in the HR space, don’t. CRM or TRM? One need only look as far as the comment section of any ERE article or discussion group with a topic of candidate relationship management (CRM) to know that most recruiters simply don’t understand how engaging in strong relationship management generates talent. Some really want to do it but just don’t know how. Over and over again we read the lamentations of process-driven recruiters who claim they do not have time to manage all these relationships. The truth is, if you are serious about finding talent efficiently and effectively, you don’t have time not to. The air of ERE is thick with those that claim the likes of Kevin Wheeler and Dr. John Sullivan have great ideas on CRM, but that these are nothing but the latest ramblings of consultants and educators seeking a utopian recruiting world. Those who continue to think that high-touch CRM is simply theory will only fall further behind the recruiters and companies that don’t. Those who do get it will continue to forge ahead and leverage their competitive CRM advantage into better talent, while those who don’t will fall further and further into recruiting obscurity. The real quandary for many recruiters is that it takes extra effort to build a relationship. The extra effort requires them to stop processing things and start building relationships. Another hard truth emerges: good recruiting requires the relationship in order get the best talent to interview and take a new opportunity. There is an old adage in the sales industry: “Friends buy from friends.” One could just as easily say, “Talented candidates take jobs from friends.” Think about the people you consider your friends. Do you have a relationship with them? Of course you do. You don’t have to have relationships with all candidates. In fact, you shouldn’t have relationships with all candidates ó just the talented ones. The focus must shift from candidate relationship management to talent relationship management. Cold Calling: The Snooty Recruiter’s Classified Advertisement Don’t get me wrong. A certain degree of cold calling is necessary as a recruiter. But when it becomes your staple for identifying candidates, you might as well be dragging a net through the Hudson River for fish. Relying on straight cold calling to find talent will drive you nuts. Instead, establish quickly the top two or three talent individuals in a specific space and build a relationship with them. They will lead you to others like them. Winners hang out with winners and losers hang out with losers. It’s that simple. Get Straight to the Source If you had to bake the world’s best apple pie, you wouldn’t go to the orchard and pick up apples off the floor of the apple orchard would you? No, you would pick the apples off the tree. The more serious you are about baking the world’s best apple pie, the more likely you are to climb up in the tree and get the apples from the place in the tree where they get the most rain and the most sun. The best apples make the best pie. Getting to the best talent is not unlike baking that pie. To find qualified talent, it is far more effective to relationally link through a series of recommendations than it is to cold-call a widely scattered collection of prospects generated from Internet or social network research. Football teams that win year after year don’t win because they throw 30 yards down field on every play. Rather, they engage in a well-balanced approach. They know they are more likely to score a touchdown from a sustained drive. The message here: Stop trying to score the best talent on every call. For example, the best talent can be found simply by taking the time to ask the client (what most call hiring managers) for referrals. At FirstMerit, we always ask our clients, “Who in your market space is beating us to deals?” We then set out to network with them to find out who else is good. If we really do our job, we are able to lure them away from our competition and hire to hurt. Hiring to hurt ó one of my favorite things to do! Ever hear the old adage, “All’s fair in love and war”? If there really is a war for talent, than you need to hire your competition’s best talent in order to better your team and hurt theirs. All is fair in love, war, and recruiting! By deposing the client/hiring manager before you even start the search, you can eliminate many hours of unnecessary research and data collection ó i.e. process. Here are some simple questions to ask your client as you profiling your next search:
- Is there anyone you know in your industry space who might be a high performing prospect or referral source for this position?
A couple of weeks ago I presented a case study about a recruiting director named Ross and the challenges he is facing as he grows the recruiting function in a medium-sized, fast-growing organization. I posed several questions and asked all of you to give me your thoughts and to provide Ross with some advice. To recap, here are the questions that I asked:
- What is the value of internal recruiting versus outsourcing? Is it really cheaper or better?
The response to my last two articles on the topic of requisitions was informative. Most recruiting professionals who responded via the ERE Forum thought I had missed the point entirely, while those people who wrote me directly expressed gratitude for stating something they struggle with everyday. But everybody’s basic point was the same: requisitions run my life and define my job. Some people seem to like that, some people don’t. No matter where people fell down on the issue though, they all hinted at the next question: “Okay, smart guy. If requisitions are so bad, tell me how you live life without them!” The answer? Integration! This article will explore “integration” the way people with pocket-protectors and broken horn-rimmed glasses mean it, as in, “The integration of multiple subsystems within a heterogeneous compute environment is a necessary condition for end-to-end transactions.” I know, it’s pretty hot. But since this is a family publication I will try to keep such a sexy subject as dry as possible. There is also the metaphor of integration, which is about how you integrate what you do with your client’s business. I’ll address that only briefly at the end of the article, since my main focus is on technology integration. Moving away from a tactical requisition-based environment to the more ideal strategic partnership scenario requires the integration of various technologies that you may already be using inside your organization. In fact, in order to move beyond requisitions you (or your HRIT partner) must work towards making sure that all your data sources are integrated into one seamless information system. Even if your organization doesn’t have the types of systems that I discuss below, they probably will at some point in the future. The technologies that drive workforce planning include workforce planning tools (including project management, resource allocation, new product modeling, and IT governance), performance management tools, contact management and candidate relationship tools, and financial central-planning tools. At present, most of these tools live in their own universes and don’t talk to each other. For instance, if you have a project at your organization that you are staffing, it is likely that the project management team used some form of tool to create a scenario whereby they would need to go off and hire someone. These tools range from the very old (manual spreadsheet analysis) to the very advanced (new product modeling features in resource and project management tools). The project planning tool helps the business leader model some scenarios around staffing: the expected launch of the product, what types of skills are needed on the project, which individuals inside the organization are available to be staffed on a new project, and financial/budget constraints on what the project can pay for any particular skill. The business lead creates these plans and then runs them through various approval processes and checkpoints in order to end up with an approved plan. That plan says, “The company needs to hire these types of folks, with these types of skills and experiences, around this time, for this much money.” The project manager will then typically contact their HR or Recruiting representative to tell them about their needs. Because the HR/recruiting rep wants to make sure that they have the information right, and since they usually don’t have access to the original planning tool to see the various approvals, they must create a requisition to confirm that the need is real, as well as to initiate a conversation with the hiring manager about his or her “actual needs.” But what if the planning tool and the ATS talked to each other? Using the present level of sophistication of integration tools (at EA we use a tool called Tibco, but there are many others out there), your HRIT department can help you create business rules that determine whether a “TBH” (to be hired) has gone through the appropriate authorization channels and whether the proper information is contained in the resource request. Assuming the needs of those rules are met, a virtual requisition can be created in the ATS, which then can trigger the hiring process. The need description, budget allocation, skill requirements, and timing of the request should all be contained within the modeling tool database. Yes, sometimes you will need to go back and double-check the information, or change the job description language to meet a specific geographical or employment challenge. But that is more about the marketing side of recruiting, and less about administration. In other words, integration between the project management tool and the applicant tracking system takes requisitions and moves them from the administrative side of the business process to the communication side of the recruiting/selling process. Of course, this integration won’t solve world hunger or hold back the tides. Recruiters must still be accountable for understanding their client’s needs by specializing in what Kevin Wheeler calls “expert thinking” and “complex communications.” Integration won’t solve for a lack of these skills. In fact, a simple test of how “integrated” a recruiter is with the company’s talent processes is to remark their level of surprise when a new requisition magically appears in their fully integrated ATS. A recruiter who is well integrated into his or her clients’ business planning process will already know the requisition is coming. On the other hand, a recruiter who uses requisitions as a way to avoid hiring managers will continually be surprised when new requisitions appear. Of course, project planning tools aren’t the only source of TBH data. In fact, most organizations are just starting to move towards a “project work model” (as opposed to the functional model of work, where you just repeat a task over and over, but never get to see the final outcome). But all organizations talk money. So often times new hire planning is done in central planning tools, usually in finance. Most companies (and almost all public companies) must provide a budget for headcount prior to the start of the fiscal year. In the post Sarbanes-Oxley era of company governance, headcount is a common metric that Wall Street uses to evaluate the expense risk of a company for the coming fiscal year. You have probably had to deal with this through your company’s budgeting process: how many people, in what types of positions, for how much money, are you going to need for the year? Again, in most companies today, this information is accessed through the finance department during the requisition creation process. In other words, the information is only available to the finance department, because only they have access to the budgeting module of the financial system. So a requisition becomes a way of getting finance to approve something they already agreed to: that a position has budget approval as of a certain date. As we discussed in the previous articles, the approval of a requisition by finance is redundant, because they have to do it again when the offer gets issued. But again, imagine for a minute that your ATS and the central planning and budgeting system are integrated. Your position description (note that this does not have to be a requisition) already has a job code, a department number, and hiring manager number. Guess what? That’s the same information in the planning system! So once you are ready to send an offer out, you can initiate a request to the planning system to check that the position is budgeted and open. This protects the company from making the mistake of hiring someone off plan. It doesn’t require a requisition, and it has successfully automated a manual process. Finally, I would like to reiterate something I brought up at the start of the article, which is that integration is both a technology and a metaphor. From a technology perspective, integration means reducing the administrative workload of the recruiting organization through seamlessly meshing different information sources into one cohesive hiring management system. This will enable recruiters to shift from being tactical administrators to strategic consultants and partners. But technical integration only provides an opportunity for becoming more strategic. The metaphor of integration is the way to maximize this opportunity. Integration as a metaphor means that the recruiter is a seamless part of the business system they are supporting. Moving beyond requisition is the first step from technical integration towards “business integration.”
This is a case study profiling the benchmark best practices and strategies at FirstMerit Bank. After a six-month study, I have found it to be the best and most aggressive recruiting function anywhere in the world. Having advised more than 200 companies in over 23 countries, this is not a statement I make lightly. The only other organization that has come close to accomplishing what the FirstMerit team has was the Cisco Systems “recruiting machine” established by Michael McNeal in the late 1990s. In addition to my assessment, their efforts were also recognized by a panel of recruiting industry thought leaders when they received the prestigious 2005 ERE Excellence Award for the Most Innovative and Effective Recruiting Process. FirstMerit earns these distinctions because their strategy and approaches are so aggressive that most corporate recruiters would shy away from even trying them ó and would most likely argue that they stretch the so-called limits of ethics in recruiting. The differences between the FirstMerit approach and that of most organizations comes down to the complete integration of two key recruiting concepts into every thing they do. The two key concepts that guide recruiting at FirstMerit:
- It’s a war. While corporate recruiters occasionally use the term “war for talent,” most act as if everything is business as usual, continuing to implement archaic recruiting tools and processes. In war speak, most corporate recruiters are walking into a jungle filled with the most advanced guerilla fighters using the latest weapons ó but they’re armed with homemade bows and arrows. FirstMerit, on the other hand, actually acts like they are in a real war, complete with both strategic and tactical battle plans (I’m sure, at least in part, that this is because their leader spent some time at the famed military academy, West Point).
What if everything you thought was true wasn’t? Here’s one point: The July 18, 2005, edition of Business Week has a study evaluating the impact of our investment in healthcare in the U.S. in comparison to other developed and undeveloped countries. One conclusion pretty much says it all: “The U.S. spends two and a half times as much as any other country per person on healthcare, but that doesn’t translate to better outcomes. Indeed, there is compelling evidence that more healthcare and more aggressive treatment are not necessarily better.” My Recruiting and Hiring Challenges 2005 Survey revealed some similar non-truths that hit closer to home. (I’ll be hosting a free online conference call to present and discuss these results on Thursday, August 4, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. PT. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-878-1388 to sign up. For one thing, you’ll discover why the world is getting flatter.) Here’s a comparable hiring issue that’s worthy of discussion. Over the past 10 years, we’ve made a huge investment in improving the recruiting and hiring process in the U.S. But serious questions are now being raised on whether it has it paid off in improved candidate quality, reduced cost, and improved time to fill. More and more senior-level HR and recruiting executives are starting to think the answer is no. For some personal proof, just compare the recruiting performance of your overseas counterparts to headquarters. Our semi-scientific survey last quarter indicated that companies in Europe and Asia, with less technology and fewer hiring resources, seemed to do no better or worse than their U.S. counterparts. Maybe the reason for this lack of progress is because the world is flat. At least that’s what Tom Friedman thinks, and he’s the most balanced reporter/columnist on the planet. Friedman reports on business conditions, economics, and politics from a truly objective perspective with no hidden agenda or left/right bias. Here’s an edited Amazon summary of his new book, The World is Flat:
What Friedman means by “flat” is “connected”: the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete ó and win ó not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you’re going to be trampled if you don’t keep up with it. His book is an excellent place to begin.”
You cannot truly lead or make a difference at your company without all the qualities ERE authors describe every day in their articles. But there’s one more thing you must also have: an absolute passion for what it is you are trying to do. It’s this passion that my colleague Mark Mehler and I wanted to capture as we discussed with ERE the concept of partnering on a series of web-based audio conversations with staffing leaders who make a real difference in how their companies find and recruit great employees. Click either audio format to listen to this webcast:
Windows Media | RealAudio Presented by ERE, this series of interviews will attempt to shed light on how staffing leaders, in many cases working behind the scenes, overcame the challenges in front of them and led their organizations to implement best practices in recruiting. All of the interviews in this series will be conducted by either myself or my colleague at CareerXRoads, Mark Mehler. Anita Gutel and Chris Himebauch of Red Lobster Red Lobster’s Anita Gutel and Chris Himebauch have tackled an age-old problem: translating boring job descriptions written by equally boring analysts into engaging and relevant literature. They did it with a world-class approach that more firms should replicate, as Red Lobster’s results clearly demonstrate. I sat down to talk with Anita and Chris recently about job descriptions. Have a listen. Click either audio format to listen to this webcast:
Windows Media | RealAudio [If you experience any technical difficulties in accessing this webcast, you may need to work with your IT department to resolve firewall issues. Send us an email at email@example.com if you experience any other technical difficulties.] About Anita Gutel Anita Dahlstrom-Gutel, SPHR, has spent her career in the hospitality industry, with a majority of that time at Darden Restaurants Inc., the world?s largest casual dining restaurant company. Anita has over 20 years of experience in business operations as a multi-unit director of operations with Red Lobster Restaurants, where she was responsible for $30 million in annual sales. She has spent her most recent six years in human resources with assignments in the areas of organizational development, performance management, and strategic staffing. Her staffing responsibilities encompassed over 65,000 crew members and managers in over 650 locations, and included oversight for sourcing, selection, staffing, and retention of Red Lobster’s human capital. She currently is charged with an enterprise-wide job analysis project for Darden?s leadership. About Chris Himebauch Chris Himebauch has been with Red Lobster since June 1995 and current serves as its director of crew relations. Chris and his team are responsible for managing employment issues, legal compliance, and mediations for 65,000 managers and crew members in over 650 locations. Chris joined Red Lobster as a divisional employment manager in charge of staffing 120 restaurants in the Southeast. Two years later he was named manager of university relations and employment. In this position Chris successfully built valuable partnerships with key universities, implemented a faculty and student internship program, and increased the hiring of college graduate management recruits. One year later, Chris was promoted to director of staffing, overseeing the sourcing, selection, staffing and retention for all 65,000 managers and employees. During his time as director of staffing, Chris was responsible for creating and implementing a new company-wide selection process that helped Red Lobster receive industry recognition as a leader in reducing turnover and improving diversity.
How do managers measure the success of recruiters’ efforts? In a quick survey of the companies I work with, I discovered the shocking fact that most of you don’t measure whether your recruiters are doing their job or not. Some measure the number of people hired, or the time it took. Others focus more on cost. And a few measure retention over some time period. While tracking the number of people hired is a nice administrative activity, it adds no value. Time to hire is a useful measure of efficiency and satisfaction, but only if those hired turn out to be good employees after some time. There is only one real measure of the success of recruiting efforts: how well the people recruited perform. The problem with this measure is that it takes time to see if the people you hired are good performers or not. Both recruiters and managers want to get some idea of success as quickly as possible. Measuring performance also means that a company has to have a process for defining performance and a way to assess each employee. Only a handful of companies that I have worked with have a robust system. So, given this, how should managers measure the success of recruiters? Here are a few ways: 1. How much time does the recruiter spend with you defining and understanding your needs? A good recruiter will take as much time as needed to clearly define the job the employee will have to perform. However, you as the manager have to be a major participant in this process and ensure that you are focusing on the few critical skills you need and not the many “nice” ones you’d like to have. They will push back on any vague answers and demand objective proof that a particular competency is really vital for success. Most managers treat recruiting sort of like Christmas. They make a wish list of impossible or unlikely things they would like and assume they will have to settle for much less. It is far better to rigorously analyze what skills and traits your best performers have and then try to find others with the same skills and traits. Help your recruiters by identifying employees who are extraordinarily good and a few that are average so that a comparison can be made. 2. Is your recruiter responsive, and does he or she have prospective candidates to you within a day or two? Really effective recruiters will have candidates in the pipeline, prescreened and interested in your company as a possible employer. This requires that your recruiters develop good sourcing techniques and know all the really good people in a profession or job at a variety of companies. The recruiter should have anticipated your needs, proactively pre-recruited a number of candidates, and be able to put them in front of you quickly. To do this, they need your help. When you go to meetings or conventions, you can start to identify people who might be good candidates at your company. You can keep your eyes open and recommend people to the recruiters. Your can let the recruiter know who among those that work for you are the best employees and try to define why. If you do this as an ongoing activity, even when you aren’t hiring anyone, you will help your recruiter to always have a pool to draw from. 3. Do you agree to interview candidates in a timely way? If not, you are hurting your own ability to recruit good people. Even in this slower time, most quality candidates have accepted an offer within a few weeks of starting their hunt. Every day you delay an interview you send two messages: one is to the candidate, saying that she isn’t all that important or necessary; and the other is to the recruiter, saying that his efforts and expertise are not that important either. Time is the key to successful recruiting today. 4. Are you empowering your recruiters with the tools and budgets they need to be successful? Candidates today require customized and personalized offers. While most good candidates are motivated by the work they will be doing, it is still very important to craft an offer that meets their needs as exactly as possible. With many offers to choose from, the days of standard offers are almost gone. When an empowered recruiter can work with a candidate to put together an offer that combines the right pay and benefits, you are all winners. Use you influence and power to ensure that your recruiters have what they need from human resources and from your department to make the best offer possible. While there are many other things you can do as a manager to make sure you have only the very best candidates and employees, these four will get you started on the right road. Your recruiters will appreciate your cooperation and understanding, and your candidates will find the recruiting process inviting and quick.
Hiring is an emotional issue. No matter whether we admit it or not, use tests or not, or use a professional recruiter or not, we all go through a multi-step psychological decision process to decide who gets hired, which generally looks something like this:
- Do we clearly know what we are looking for?
article By Dr. John Sullivan & Master Burnett Sales professionals long ago realized the value of developing approaches that helped them identify potential customers (leads) as a way to improve the productivity of their sales process. Today, the art of lead generation has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. In nearly every developed nation around the globe, businesses can purchase leads targeted to almost any conceivable audience, including lists specifically generated for recruiters. (Before you cry out that such services are not available in your country, take a look into it; we have yet to find a country where sales lead services are not available!) If you had an unlimited budget, purchasing sales leads is a quick and easy way to rapidly source candidates. However, if like many other recruiters you have yet to prove your value and improve your budget, chances are you may need to look at developing your own lead generation function. Numerous world-class recruiting departments have developed some degree of centralized sourcing. Often such functions can be staffed with college students, interns, and other low cost forms of labor. What follows is a listing of the most common online approaches lead generation firms use to build up their databases. All lead generation approaches share a common goal: to identify and to some degree prescreen potential customers, or in your case potential recruits. To ensure that your approach accomplishes this goal, it is important to craft a strategy that clearly articulates your target lead profile. Who exactly is it you are attempting to identify? What are their most likely interests? Who or what is capable of influencing them? The answers to these questions will help you determine what tools to use in populating your database. Lead Generation Is Not Advertising If you have any friends or colleagues in the marketing function, ask them if they consider lead generation approaches as advertising. What you will most likely hear is that the two accomplish something very similar, but that each is often budgeted separately. There are many reasons that drive this perspective, the most common of which include:
- Lead generation is often owned by the sales function, but occasionally relies upon marketing for insight and execution.
The continued groundswell of interest in the use of assessment tools brings with it many positive things. First of all, it is really great to see that an increasing number of companies are beginning to experience firsthand the value that a well-planned and properly implemented assessment strategy can provide. What has me even more excited is that the continued integration of assessment with other technology-based hiring tools ó such as sourcing tools and applicant tracking systems ó is an important step in the continued development of a process-based approach to hiring. I really do believe that this is where the future lies when it comes to the intersection of hiring and technology. But while continued interest and advances in both technology and consumer mindset are encouraging, there is still a great deal of hesitancy among potential consumers of assessment tools. While many folks have been sticking their big toe in the water, a large number are still unwilling to dive in. This is understandable, as there are many reasons why thinking about the use of assessment tools can be a bit scary. One of the biggest reasons for this hesitancy is the fact that one of the first steps in using assessment, the simple act of choosing an assessment provider, can be a daunting proposition. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Low level of knowledge. Assessment is a complex subject matter that takes some effort to fully understand. My research has shown that a lack of knowledge about assessment has continually been the main reason for hesitancy to consider using these measures.
A medium-sized organization is in the midst of rapid growth. Through a series of small acquisitions and a vigorous hiring campaign, the firm has added more than 200 people to its staff over the past six months. Projections are to add at least equal that amount over the next six months, and if the economy is improving, to move beyond even that. Ross Simon, the director of staffing, is faced with many decisions. Perhaps the largest and most strategic is a decision about whether to engage a recruitment process outsourcing firm or to build more internal capability. Under his tutelage, the firm has created an award-winning recruiting website that allows a candidate to learn a great deal about the firm and the particular job they are interested in, and also to go through online evaluations to determine whether or not they can move on to interviews. Building this website has been an ordeal. Several consultants, as well as the internal IT department, evaluated vendors for months and worked to integrate many disparate systems into a seamless whole. Ross has learned a lot. His first major “ah-ha!” was simply that no single vendor could provide what his firm needed. He was forced to hire a project manager to go quickly through the many vendors and select those with the tools that were closest to what they felt they needed. This was a major win for Ross, as he was fortunate to get a consultant with IT expertise and HR/recruiting knowledge to head up the effort. This gave him objectivity and reduced his need for permanent headcount. His second “ah-ha” was that none of the applicant tracking systems he evaluated was able to handle the candidate relationship management he felt was essential to success. He wanted to build talent communities and be able to send emails, newsletters, and other communications to select candidates on a regular basis. He also wanted to keep track of unsuccessful, but well-qualified, candidates so they could be presented again. He remains at a loss for a solid system that can provide this capability, as well as provide backend tracking and scheduling. This has further driven him to seriously consider recruitment process outsourcing. After all, large organizations like Kellogg’s have outsourced everything for some time with success. RPO looks good from a budget point of view, as expenses are predictable and negotiable and he can get a guarantee on service levels and quality. That is more than he can get from his internal staff. If he is going to improve his internal recruiting function, Ross wants it to be very strategic and to focus on workforce planning, talent supply chain development, branding, and internal selection and placement. This will most likely mean that several current recruiters will be laid off and several new ones, with a different skill set, brought in. This will be expensive and stressful and will definitely lower morale and productivity for a while. What would you do if you were Ross? There are many interesting challenges and assumptions in this case:
- What is the value of internal recruiting vs. outsourcing? Is it really cheaper or better?
The bulk of recruiting is far more tactical than it is strategic, especially since most of the heavy lifting takes place between recruiter and candidate. Unfortunately, the endless details of dealing with candidates, resumes, interviews, and feedback ó while also trying to close the deal ó can have you running from pillar to post in a completely reactive style on a daily basis. This bizarre existence is played out in countless companies across the country, and it is probably the primary reason recruiters lose productivity, become jaded, and burn out. After they snap, corporate America’s brilliant response is to replace them, which allows them to burn out new recruiters. As an added bonus, the crowd that’s on its way out now has the dubious opportunity to ply their trade at another company and have what usually amounts to same experience. This is one of the reasons why there are very few 100 year-old recruiters around. Things do not have to be this way. But if recruiters want life to change then they will have to be the ones to drive that change. Change requires power, and power is never granted; power is only taken. The first step towards empowerment for recruiters is to acknowledge that they are professionals and need to run their job as opposed to having their job running them. Unless you call the shots, you will continue to be hammered by the forces and whims of those dilettantes who believe they know your job better than you do. Your time and energy will continue to be drained by those who are more than happy to burden you with the blame when an offer is turned down, while bestowing you very little credit when it is accepted. If you have days where you go home exhausted and feel as though you have almost no control over anything, migrating towards a strategic recruiting model might save both your sanity as well as your career. Strategic recruiting starts with a belief that running around like a kid on too much sugar is no way to live, be productive, or build a company. It is reactive as opposed to proactive, governed by things that are urgent as opposed to things that are important (for those of you familiar with Covey, I am obviously talking about quadrant one versus quadrant two existence). Interested in getting a bit of control into your function and meaning into your recruiting life? Consider the following three points:
- Stop all activity for a day or two (or three). Find a quiet conference room away from the madness of the phones and email, huddle with your team and do some thinking. An offsite would even be better. This is to be a quiet and reflective time to look at and examine your role, your priorities and how you run your business. If you say that you have no time to stop for a few days then I say you have to follow this advice more than you will ever know. (Charles de Gaulle said “the graveyards are filled with irreplaceable men.” Think about it.)
This article was originally published on July 16, 2004. The single best way to become a more effective recruiter is to become a true partner with your hiring manager clients. And the single best way to become a true partner with your hiring manager clients is to know the job. If as a recruiter you don’t know the job, you’ll receive little respect from your clients. However, as most of you know (or will soon find out), I believe that traditional job descriptions are the most useless documents ever produced. So don’t use the traditional job description to learn about the job. Disavow it instead. Other than a few buzz words, you won’t learn much about the job using traditional job descriptions. In fact, by themselves traditional job descriptions prevent companies from ever seeing and hiring top performers. A list of skills, required experiences, academics, industry experience, and personality traits have absolutely nothing to do with the job. At best, typical job descriptions define people. They certainly don’t define the job. More importantly, top performers ó whether they’re active, passive, or somewhere in between ó aren’t induced to apply when reading these types of requirement-intensive job descriptions. So if you want to become a partner, stop using traditional job descriptions and start using performance profiles. A performance profile eliminates all of the problems associated with typical job descriptions by defining the actual work that needs to be performed (certainly an odd and radical concept). Not only do recruiters who assist in preparing performance profiles demonstrate their knowledge, but the process itself opens up the job to more diverse and other high-potential candidates. Most top performers don’t possess the artificial list of prerequisites found on traditional job descriptions, but they do have comparable accomplishments. Some background is in order. Every job has six to eight performance objectives that define job success. These are things that the employee must do to be considered successful ó not what the person must have in terms of years of experience, industry, academics or skills. A performance profile is nothing more than a prioritized list of the most important six to eight performance objectives. Here’s an example of a performance objective for a project manager:
During the first three months, prepare a detailed review of the project, including an appraisal of all critical action items and potential bottlenecks. Identify key technical challenges, including _________, and determine all resource needs.