Collaborative Recruiting — Making ‘Every Employee a Recruiter’ Improves Hiring Results

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Oct 21, 2019

Top firms use collaborative recruiting because it “turns every employee into a recruiter” and a brand ambassador. Expanding involvement also improves hiring results and lightens recruiter workloads. If you haven’t heard about this increasingly popular approach, collaborative recruiting (aka team hiring) is where you purposely expand both employee and manager roles throughout the recruiting process. Both play a larger and more impactful role in finding, sorting, assessing, selling, and retaining candidates. Unlike, the traditional manager-dominated hiring model that does not emphasize collaboration.

Collaborative Hiring Has Many Benefits

The obvious benefit is reducing the workload of your recruiters. In addition, during a tight job market, expanding collaboration dramatically improves your company’s capability to accurately assess and sell the most difficult to land candidates. When the candidate sees a high level of collaboration during recruiting, they are likely to assume that they are about to join a highly desirable collaborative work environment. As an added side benefit, everyone more thoroughly understands and appreciates the value and the difficulty of recruiting in today’s highly competitive talent marketplace. Expanding collaboration and participation also causes managers and employees to act more as if they “own” the hiring process. Feeling like they own the process increases employee “buy-in” in the final candidate choice.

Collaborative Recruiting Touch Points 

There are many high-impact points in the recruiting funnel where employees and managers can collaborate with recruiters. They are listed below, where they are separated into six categories, with the most impactful actions listed first under each category.

Pre-hiring involvement 

  • Collaborate to create job postings  employees who currently work in the job should be consulted before job postings and job descriptions are finalized. Their role should be to ensure that the best attraction factors are highlighted so that more people apply. Employees can also help to increase applications by posting job openings in their job family on their social media platforms. If the position has high turnover, HR should work with the manager, the team, and their generalist to tweak the job itself, to make it more desirable and effective.

Finding qualified prospects 

  • Providing quality referrals — the largest contribution that others can make is by continually acting like a 24/7 “talent scout” in order to generate referrals. If you have an effective referral program, nearly 50 percent of all hires should come from referrals. However, what is needed is not a high volume of mediocre names, but instead only a few referred prospects with exceptional talents in the critical skill shortage areas of the firm. Employees, managers, and corporate alumni should make referrals primarily “for the good of the team.”
  • Participate in recruiting messaging — managers and employees should willingly participate in recruiting videos. If they don’t create their own, they should participate in those developed by the recruiting function. Employees should also serve as 24/7 brand ambassadors by telling everyone at gatherings they attend and those that experience their blogs/podcasts about the many benefits of working at their company.
  • Convincing conference attendees to apply — when employees and managers attend conferences, seminars, and professional meetings, they should also continually act like brand ambassadors and talent hawks by proactively seeking out and then convincing exceptional talent to apply at your firm.

Help with resume screening and sorting

  • Resume screening — when recruiters are hiring for technical positions, they often have difficulty assessing an applicant’s technical capabilities in order to determine if they are qualified for the job. A technical employee from the hiring team can help the assigned recruiter determine whether questionable applicants are qualified. 
  • Resume sorting — recruiters also often have difficulty determining the appropriate job for each applicant. A volunteer from the team can help the assigned recruiter direct applications into the correct job opening. 

Help with candidate assessment 

  • Use a permanent hiring team — the second-most powerful collaborative contribution that outsiders can make to recruiting is serving on a permanent hiring team. Made famous at Google, they are now used by many other firms. They are effective because unlike hiring managers, hiring team members are not frantic with a selfish immediate need to fill their current job with butts in chairs. A permanent hiring team is more likely to make decisions dispassionately, based on data and in line with the big-picture future strategic needs of the firm. Because they are well-trained and they hire frequently, permanent hiring team members are much more likely to accurately assess and effectively sell candidates, compared to a manager who may only fill one job per year. 
  • Peer interviews for assessment — the third-most powerful collaborative contribution that employees can make is serving on peer interview panels. Peer interviews are interviews in which only coworkers participate (with no managers). These interviews are especially effective at candidate assessment because participating employees work in (or alongside) the actual job being filled. They are better able to assess a candidate’s technical capabilities. Another benefit is that when you add alternative and more diverse assessment, you lower the chances of making a major hiring error. In addition, because they were involved in the hiring decision, employees are more likely to feel like they at least partially “own” the hiring process and its results. Finally, if you believe in assessing cultural fit (which is extremely problematic) because peers live it every day, they are more likely to make an accurate assessment.
  • Involve major customers in selection — when you’re hiring a key person who must effectively interact with a few major B2B customers, some firms have asked an important customer to provide a representative who can informally participate in the interview process. Their input will likely limit the chances that you will make a major hiring error. The invitation alone might show key customers you are committed to continually meeting their needs.

Assisting with selling/closing candidates

  • Peer interviews for selling candidates — in addition to being used for assessment purposes, peer interviews are extremely effective at convincing and selling candidates. Peer evaluators “live the job every day.” Candidates generally consider them to be authentic, knowledgeable, and believable. As a result, employees are likely to know the concerns of candidates and how to successfully counter them. With no manager being present, a few of the negative aspects of the job are likely to come up. This may surprisingly help convince the candidate that they are getting the real picture about the job environment. 
  • Selling candidates during regular interviews — during standard interviews, employees participate alongside managers. Individual employees can help convince the candidate by effectively providing stories and giving examples covering each of the exciting aspects of the job and the team. Their positive and enthusiastic reactions to candidate answers can also help build the candidate’s confidence (which makes them more likely to accept). Employees who participate in interviews can improve and speed up the hiring process by filling out their interview scorecards and submitting them on time. And finally, when assigned, individual top-performing employees can hold one-on-one meetings with top candidates in order to further sell them. 
  • CEO calls — literally the most effective single selling approach is when the CEO calls an individual finalist in order to encourage them to say yes to their firm’s offer. These senior executive calls are most effective when the caller is thoroughly familiar with the history and the work of the individual.
  • Profiles of teammates — team members can indirectly help to sell candidates if the manager provides each finalist with a packet of brief profiles covering every team member and the manager. Segments of LinkedIn profiles are often all that is needed. These team member profiles can help convince a candidate that they will be able to learn a lot from these exceptional teammates and their manager.
  • Encourage managers/employees to share comparison selling points — employees and managers are more effective at proactive selling when they are provided with effective selling information. So, consider providing them with a categorized story inventory that employees can choose from in order to impress candidates with stories about why this is a great place to work. In addition, providing everyone with a “side-by-side company sell sheet” (which compares the compelling attraction factors that your company offers with those of your competitors) also helps managers and employees quickly sell both potential applicants and candidates.

Helping after the offer is made 

  • Encouraging the finalist to accept — employees can help recruit using the Hampton 5 approach made famous by the Golden State Warriors. This is where employees, when encouraged by their manager, proactively contact the finalist in order to convince them to accept the firm’s offer. This approach is especially effective because it authentically shows the finalists that team members need their contribution and welcomes them with open arms. The mere fact that one or more top employees are willing to take time out away from their job to make this follow-up just by itself sends a powerful welcoming message to the candidate.
  • Preboarding and anti-ghosting actions — these days there is a large chance that a new hire might not show up on their first day. Managers and employees can help to stop this ghosting by maintaining contact with the new-hire in order to keep them engaged to alleviate any of their fears and to reinforce the sale.
  • Onboarding can reduce early turnover — the role of the onboarding team is to help to get the new employee up to speed quickly and to alleviate any concerns. However, beginning the first day, teammates can also proactively set aside time to help the new employee adjust, to solve any encountered problems, and to help them get the speed even faster. Offering to be a “buddy mentor” (a Google approach) can further help in creating success for the new-hire.
  • Retention support — throughout their first year, the manager and teammates can help support the new hire to proactively alleviate any issues that might negatively impact their productivity and short or long-term retention.

Final Thoughts

Firms like Google, Intuit, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter have used elements of the collaborative recruiting approach. This collaborative process is so effective in part because it spreads out the ownership of the hiring decision. Innovators, top performers, and many in the next generation now expect and even demand that they work in a collaborative environment. If candidates don’t see widespread collaboration in their first encounter with the company (during the hiring process) they might mistakenly assume that collaboration does not exist in other aspects of the business. Involving others in more aspects of recruiting, obviously, also helps to lighten the horrendous workload of most recruiters. But the main selling point for executives and recruiting leaders should be that collaborative recruiting increases the chances that your firm will recruit and hire better performing employees.


Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please take a minute to follow or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn and subscribe to ERE Daily.

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