As you know, I suggest that recruiters prepare a performance profile whenever starting a search assignment. A performance profile describes the top six to eight performance objectives a person taking the job needs to do to be considered successful. It differs from a job description in that it doesn’t describe skills or traits, but rather what the person needs to accomplish with his or her skills and traits. For example, rather than saying that a person must have five years of accounting experience and a CPA, a performance profile would say “Complete the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements by Q2.”
To accurately assess competency and motivation, it’s always better to define what the person taking the job needs to do, rather than what the person needs to have in terms of skills and experiences. The hiring team should prepare these performance profiles together and put the top six to eight objectives in priority order. This way, consensus is reached on job needs before the search process begins. Clarifying expectations up front not only increases assessment accuracy, but it also is the prime reason why top people select one job over another. It is also much easier to prioritize and agree on performance objectives than on skills, experiences, personality traits, and academic background.
The following is a performance profile for a recruiting manager for a typical company. To start preparing any performance profile, first figure out the major objective. Then uncover the problems and challenges that the person is expected to face the first year. You can also ask the hiring team what the person taking the job needs to do to be considered truly successful. From this, a performance profile can be prepared that includes assessing the problems, putting plans together to solve the problems, and then implementing solutions and achieving objectives. Here’s an example of a good major objective, and some typical problems most recruiting managers face.
Major objective: During the first year, convert the recruiting department into a flexible team that can meet all of the hiring needs of the company with top quality people within three to four weeks of any opening. Typical hiring problems faced by a corporate recruiting department:
- The hiring team doesn’t see enough good people for most positions
- Hiring managers aren’t as involved or cooperative as they should be.
- It takes too long to interview, select, and complete the hiring process.
- Recruiters are handling too many requisitions and have too much non-recruiting stuff to do.
- Managers are too picky; sometimes, for dumb reasons, the best candidates don’t get hired.
- The candidate tracking system requires too much effort to keep it up to date.
Here, in priority order, are the critical performance objectives for the recruiting manager taking on this role. As you’ll see later, you’ll only need to ask two questions to determine if a candidate is both competent and motivated to do this work.
Prioritized List of Performance Objectives for a Typical Recruiting Manager
- Evaluate and rebuild the team. Within the first few weeks, meet with all key team members to determine each person’s ability to handle the challenges of the job. From this, develop and implement an action plan to strengthen the department to meet the company’s aggressive hiring needs. (Here’s a link to an online recruiter assessment form you might want to use for this part.)
- Identify the real hiring problems. Quickly understand the hiring challenges the company is facing, and with key company leaders put together an aggressive recruiting plan. Determine budget needs, additional resource requirements, and obtain executive buy-in and approval.
- Prepare a process flow chart of the hiring process. Working with the team and IT, prepare an end-to-end process map of the company’s hiring process. Identify key bottlenecks and problems. Implement short-term fixes as necessary to improve performance.
- Reorganize the recruiting department. During the first 45 days, determine the optimum department organization. Evaluate different organization approaches ó considering centralized vs. decentralized, process vs. function, and high volume vs. high value.
- Establish a workforce-planning process. Within 120 days, put together a rough workforce plan based on the sales forecast and the company business plan. This plan needs to identify key hiring needs by job type for the next four quarters. Revise recruiting plans and processes to reflect key hiring requirements. Establish a means to update this rolling 12-month plan on a quarterly basis, based on forecasts from key managers.
- Upgrade technology. Lead the effort to evaluate existing technology for adequacy. Determine if problems are due to user competency or weak technology. Implement training programs as necessary to improve performance. Begin a two-year plan to overhaul the technology platform to improve both productivity and hiring performance by at least 50 percent.
- Completely revamp the sourcing process for active candidates. During the first year, rebuild the career website to reflect the needs of good people who don’t have time to look. Rewrite every online job description to ensure that each one is exciting, compelling, and easy to find. Create a “wow!” experience for all candidates at every step in the hiring process — including online and onsite. Cut the time to process candidates by 50 percent.
- Develop and implement a passive-candidate sourcing program. Develop a small, in-house executive search team to handle all critical positions. Staff as needed to ensure that candidate quality is the primary objective. Hire a top-notch research team in combination with executive recruiters who can network with senior-level executives and key technologists.
- Get hiring managers totally involved. Quickly determine the general ability of hiring managers to both assess candidate competency and recruit top performers. Begin the implementation of necessary training. Work with the senior executive team to upgrade the importance of hiring to ensure line manager buy-in and commitment.
- Convert the recruiting department into a line function using performance-based metrics. Within 12 months, develop a series of metrics to track real-time performance of all critical steps in the hiring process. Work with IT to develop a web-based dashboard that all managers and recruiters can use to track the status of each search. Specifically monitor incoming candidate quality by sourcing channel, time-to-fill, recruiter vs. hiring manager quality variance (this compares the assessment among different interviewers) and sendouts per hire. Set up improvement programs for all critical factors.
There are probably a half-dozen more objectives that could be added to this list — including tasks like upgrading the employee referral program, improving the university recruiting process, and establishing the use of performance profiles as the core of the onboarding process. Regardless, if every member of the hiring team doesn’t understand and agree to the use of performance objectives before interviewing, they will not assess the person accurately. Rather than using a performance profile, they will use some combination of intuition, a rough understanding of job needs and one or two key traits to assess the person. The chance of getting the assessment right using this approach is remote, especially if they vote yes or no before hearing what other members of the hiring team think of the candidate. When all members of the hiring team understand the real job needs as described in the performance profile, interviewing accuracy increases and consensus is much easier to reach.
As part of the two-question performance-based interviewing process I recommend, interviewers need to spend 10 to15 minutes digging into a candidate’s comparable accomplishments to determine relevancy, fit and interest. Here’s an earlier ERE article for more on this interviewing approach. Maybe one of the objectives above should be to convince hiring managers to use performance profiles instead of job descriptions when starting each new hiring assignment. This alone will increase individual recruiting productivity by 30 to 50 percent by ensuring that good candidates don’t get excluded for bad reasons. There are three to five times more top people available who can ace the performance profile but not the job description. Now imagine what would happen if you use the performance profile as part of the onboarding process and even expect your new hires meet the objectives defined once they start.
A performance profile can have a profound positive impact on just one hire, or on thousands. Start by creating one for your own job and on your next assignment to see the difference. Before you know it, you’ll have converted the recruiting department into a flexible team that can meet all of the hiring needs of the company with top quality people within three to four weeks of any opening.