I love December for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that it’s a great month for recruiters to do some really important things. For example, it is an excellent time to renew and solidify relationships with hiring managers. It is also a great opportunity to reach out to the candidates you have your sights on in the coming year by making a call to wish them a good holiday season (please don’t do it by e-mail; recruiting is about relationships and relationships are personal). It is also a good time to:
- Take stock of what you have accomplished
- Look at where you need to make improvements
- Take inventory of where the closing year’s hires have been coming from
December is also a wonderful time to make whatever plans are necessary to hit the ground running next year, because “business as usual” is not the mantra of great recruiters. To those recruiters who believe that the New Year is not just another timeframe but an unspoken challenge to raise the bar, I salute you, because the future that we have will be the future that we make. With this in mind, I offer up six actionable items that forward-thinking organizations should begin doing that will result in hiring better employees and building better businesses. Forward-thinking recruiters, of course, will be the driving force behind moving these initiatives forward.
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- Hiring better recruiters. Recruiters are the employees who build your business. If you don’t hire the best possible recruiters then you are not giving your business the best possible chance to grow into the dominant force it is capable of becoming. I am sure we all know that the recruiter of tomorrow is a very different entity from the recruiter of the last millennium. ERE has run a number of informative articles on hiring great recruiters by John Sullivan, Michael Homula, and yours truly. I suggest you read them all before you hire your next recruiter. No organization can afford to make a bad hire, but they certainly can’t make one of the very person whose mission it is to see that the organization makes good hires.
- Branding the organization. I say “Microsoft” and you think of something; I say “Burger King” and you think of something else. What you think of when I say these company names is largely driven by that employer’s brand; therefore, working to create the best possible brand from an employment perspective is very important. Successful employment branding is a great first step towards being an employer of choice and in being able to hire the candidates you really want, as opposed to the candidates you simply settle for. Want to jump start the branding process? Why not start out by creating a world-class employment/careers module for your organization’s website. It is not difficult, and if you look at ERE’s great 37-part article series by Steve Rothberg, you can make it happen using his great ideas as a guide. (Or you can wait; I hear it is being turned into a musical!).
- Aggressively pursuing top talent. Talent is a word that is bandied about by almost anyone who can breathe, but there is often little attention or real commitment paid to either defining what talent means to your organization or vigorously going out, identifying, and attracting it. According to Hank Stringer, president and founder of Hire.com, “Your company requires better talent than the rest of market. If you have better talent than the competition, you win.” This concept seems so simple, such a fundamental and self evident truth that it is not worth mentioning. But year after year so many companies with no talent strategy wait until the last minute to devise one, bring on mediocre candidates under extreme pressure, and wonder why they can’t attract top flight talent. Is that absurd, or am I missing something?
- Looking at talent as opposed to workforce planning. Workforce planning is a useful tool, but it is more of an accounting instrument than the Holy Grail people believe it to be. Workforce planning projects the number of FTEs to be hired in each quarter based upon projected requisitions to be opened as related to anticipated growth. This is all fine, but it is not enough. The future belongs to those organizations that adopt a talent strategy to addresses long-term requirements before they become short-term nightmares. Rule of thumb: If you are going insane hiring for positions you needed to fill last month, your talent strategy is a car wreck (or you done have one).
- Creating better ERPs. “Of course we have an employee referral program. It’s outlined on page 194 of our employee manual.” I hate to be negative, but this is hardly a world-class employee referral program. I think it is safe to say that many organizations’ most productive hires have come from employee referrals because they are the employees whom someone in the company knew, whom someone in the company has worked with, and whom someone in the company can vouch for. (This is why start-ups are almost exclusively staffed by referrals of those employees who founded the company, and this continues until they exhaust their network.) I suggest all organizations that are serious about growth for the coming year take a long and hard look at their ERP. If it is not colorful, exciting, highly visible, and creative, it is time to re-architect your program and turn your workforce into the recruiting force it can be. (The other option is to pay third-party recruiters $20,000 a pop for each hire. Your choice.)
- Investing in employees. Everyone is looking for a good investment these days. I recommend that you consider your employees the investment you have been looking for, as they are all the assets your organization possesses. According to Roderick Wijsmuller, managing director of recruitment service Newmonday, “For a long time, the employment trend has been moving away from ‘job for life’ and towards more flexible working and more frequent migration between jobs… Skills are suffering as a result of poor investment in people, who are regarded as temporary business assets.” Is this true? Is loyalty between employer and employee as dead as a smelt? That’s hard to say. It is certainly a good subject for a future article. But like love or friendship or anything else of great meaning, if you want some, start off by giving some. I urge you to invest in developing new skills and abilities in those you employ. You will get in return a more capable and competitive workforce. Who knows, you just might get a bit of loyalty in return.
Writing is an interesting game; you put it out there and never really know who reads it and what, if anything, they do with it. But if you are in a position to affect, drive, or otherwise influence the change necessary to take recruiting to the next level, I urge you to do so. Anything less is simply an example of a person who is not doing their job — and it has become obvious to me that we spend far too much time living with employees that are doing just that.