Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. –Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von
As we emerge from the strains and exertions of 2012 and look to manage our recruiting efforts in the New Year, we are all sure to suffer one ongoing problem: distractions that will eat away at our time and our productivity. Too many things both online and off scream for our attention and too many people want a piece of our day. This is not good.
I believe that the time to clear off your desk and start afresh is now, and even more then the physical aspects of cleaning house are the mental aspects of knowing that if you have a job of any significant responsibility, the watchword for renewed success will be productivity. One’s ability to get their recruiting done despite the madness and the noise that puts us in the zone Stephen Covey referred to as “the thick of thin things” is an ongoing effort with which we all struggle. (If you have not read Covey’s seminal book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People yet, I can’t imagine a better way to kickstart the year off in your favor.)
With this in mind, I offer 10 insights that will surely contribute to enhanced success as a recruiter in the year all of us are about to enter.
- Guard Your Time. Time is all that we have. It can be neither created nor increased, and the physics of time is the same for all of us. We wake up with our 24 hours of it and how we use it is up to us. At the end of the day, how we spent your time will be a determining factor in how successful we will be. Keep meetings short, one-word answers to email is just fine, and conversations in the offices of other people are best as you can leave when you are done. (Far better then throwing them out of your office when they jabber on.) Your time is your money and your career and your success. Guard it judiciously from those who will not just waste their time but your time as well.
- Plan Your Day. It matters little when you plan. The end of the day is fine; the morning before work is fine as well. Do it when it is best for you, but by all means get it done. (If you are taking more then 15 minutes to plan, you are being obsessive.) Just rough out your day and the things that need to get done with priorities on top. Use an app or use a pen or use a to-do list. Plan your work and work your plan. I am well aware of the fact that you come in and some days are madness. Your plan gets thrown off. That is OK. Better to go back to a plan that has taken a hit then to have no plan at all. Plan out 15 minutes for planning. It works well if you treat it as an important appointment. Truth be told, it is.
- Social media … Respectful and Mindful. Endless people abuse social media in a way that is almost obscene, and most do not realize they are doing it. I know this because I was once one of those people. Try to be aware, respectful, and observant of boundaries. Social media is most effective when it is used as a tool that can inform, influence, and raise awareness. This is easiest to accomplish when the audience is carefully targeted and appropriate for your message. Learn to use social media to listen and to gauge the needs, the sentiment, and the mood of those you wish to engage. How many followers you have matters far less then the results you can attain by adding real value to the right audience at the right time. Think hard before you reach out. Do not spam, scream, or create noise. Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he would spend four of those hours sharpening the ax. Does that make sense to you?
- Understand the Job. Simplistic perhaps, but it is easy to forget. Before you go out and try to fill a job, you must know what it is that person is going to be doing and the requirements that are associated with that job. Even if you have filled it before, things change based on endless factors, so take the time required to understand what the hiring manager needs that candidate to do and what is most important in that job. If a candidate asks you what they will be doing all day after they come to work, you need to know this. If you don’t, you really do not understand the job, and this will make it far more difficult and time consuming to fill. Invest time to save time and be more effective. Shortcuts seldom work in recruiting.
- Understand the Candidate. At some time in the recruiting process the candidate must be presented to the hiring manager. How and when is up for conversation, but sooner or later, it must happen. Never present a candidate who you do not understand. Take the time to get to know your candidate in a way that is more then just matching their resume to the job description. Once again, a simple rule of thumb is that at a minimum you should have no problem discussing the following three points: What does the candidate do in their current position? What does the candidate want to do in their next position? Why is the candidate looking/open to make a change? If we all spend a bit more time on the phone getting to know our candidates we will all benefit from the time we have invested.
- Think Binary. Recruiting is a binary function. Either you fill the job or you do not fill the job. Unlike the person who does benefits or the HR reps, there is little room for opinion on your performance. The number of jobs you filled last year is known and the number you will fill this year is to be determined. The message here is simple. Get an edge and do not be afraid to use it. Time wasters of any kind must go. Hiring managers who are not responsive must be coached. Candidates who you know will never be hired must be cut lose fast. Jobs that are not approved for hire should have none of your time. Ask questions. Pre-close candidates. (If I get you the $100,000 salary you want, will you take the job? Not sure? I am sorry — do you want me to tell them you are not interested? No? OK, help me to help you and button this up so all of us can win.) Can you see the line of thinking here? Get an edge and use it because a candidate who almost accepts your offer is of little value to you in terms of a track record.
- Let Me Wait to See the Offer Letter. This makes me crazy and it should make you crazy as well. The candidate must make a decision on the position before the offer letter is drafted. Please forgive my stridency on this issue but the candidate mulling over an offer letter with their coffee and eggs is seldom a good thing. The offer letter should be a summation of the conversations you’ve been having with the candidate, not a starting point for negotiations because that is a very dangerous road to travel upon. (Can I get a signing bonus? No signing bonus? How about I work from home on Fridays and can we add another $10,000 to the base and can I wear my Captain America outfit when coding? This is no way to close a deal and this is no way to hire a new employee.) An offer letter is a legal document that should be seen as an outline of the conversations you have had and the agreements you have reached. It is not a time to haggle and create stress for all concerned. Talk money before the offer letter goes out. Send the candidate a “benefits at a glance” summary before you send the offer letter. Give the candidate all of the information required to make a decision before the offer letter goes out.
- People Like Results. The biggest mistake I made early on in my career was that I wanted to be liked by everyone. It ain’t gonna happen for you either. Bill Cosby said that he does not know the secret to success but he knows the secret to failure: try to please everyone. Most of us want to be liked. I certainly do, but I would rather be liked because I get results and make good hires then because of my semi-charming personality and great hair. As much as you are a member of the team, you as a recruiter stand apart from the rest because of the nature of your role. There is clearly an aloneness to recruiting. You are there to hire people and that is the only reason you are there. Should you be nice? Of course. Should you grab the occasional drink after work? Certainly, but we live in a world that is increasingly transactional. Focus on results, get results, and they will love you in a way that is very rewarding.
- Drive Your ERP. Few people out there have as much vested interest in their organization’s employee referral program as a recruiter because it can be the very best tool that you have. Contemporary thinking reflects a philosophy that 33% of your new hires should come from your ERP. I think that number is a bit high and believe that it is probably closer to 25%, but still and all, that is a big number. That means that one out of every four hires you have to do will be from the ease and simplicity of an employee referral. I see this as a very good thing. Regardless of the current state of your organization’s ERP, do what you can to improve it and milk it for every single referral. Work it aggressively and make sure it is visible. Push hard to see that those who recommend a candidate are rewarded and recognized. If you do not like your ERP, work to make improvements and build a business case that backs up your recommendations. I can’t write an entire article here about ERPs here but I hope you get the idea. One more thing; do not ever think that a successful ERP  is competition for your efforts. A good ERP is born out of your services and the driving force you infuse into it on a daily basis. An aggressive ERP is a very good tool.
- Coach Everyone. Until you really get to know what you are dealing with, coach every person who is candidate facing. The receptionist should be smiling; someone should offer the candidate coffee; and the candidate should be escorted as opposed to being pointed. (“It is the third conference room on the left near the file cabinets across from Phyllis” is not a good way to direct a candidate.) All those who interact with candidates need to be on their best behavior. Candidates need lunch and a bathroom and a moment to clear their head. Those who interact with candidates need to be upbeat and see that the candidate is well cared for. Those who interview need to be respectful of the candidate and have sensitivity to the fact that the candidate is probably nervous and possibly tired. As a recruiter, you know all of this but you need to get this across to those individuals to whom you will be handing off your candidate. Call candidates after the interview and ask them what they thought of the interviewing experience. Ask how they were made to feel. Patterns will begin to emerge over time and those patterns will tell you who needs coaching. See “Make Believe They are Coming to Your House ” as an enhancement to this concept. (The author is simply brilliant in his debut article.)
2013 is clearly going to be an challenging year for our economy and an interesting year for the business community that continues to adjust and readjust to this new world order. Recruiting needs to readjust and calibrate as well. Recruiting needs to make the changes required to deliver value by delivering results.
Many out there see themselves as recruiters who are doing business. This is no longer sufficient. We now need to be business people who do recruiting. The difference is subtle but hopefully, it is clear. If we tighten up our game, we will be more successful and if we are more successful, we will improve the quality of our lives.