Disruptive Recruiting: Rethinking What Recruiting Is All About

Jun 17, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. –-Andy Warhol

It is time to change the recruiting game. Someone has to reinvent a process that is aged, inefficient, and marginally successful in procuring high-performing employees.

Over the past 20 years recruiters have been given magical tools starting with applicant tracking systems, then the Internet, job boards, recruiting websites, and now an array of social media tools. Yet, it is a sad fact that a single recruiter can deal with no more open positions than he could two decades ago, still feels overworked, and is deluged with unqualified candidates.

It is time to challenge our assumptions and reinvent the entire recruiting process. Let’s start by asking dumb questions: why does recruiting exist as a function? Is it to hire people? Surely given our technology, hiring managers could be trained to screen and select the people they need. Is it to screen candidates, schedule interviews? All can be automated. Is it to sell the organization to the candidate? That often happens prior to any recruiter contact through the products and services you offer, through fellow employees, through brand and reputation, and through your location. What the recruiter adds to this is useful, but probably minimal.

So, then, how can recruiters add value?Automation and Process Simplification

The recruiting process is made up of somewhere around 10 sub-processes which include employment branding, communicating with a hiring manager and developing a position description, sourcing, screening, assessment, candidate communication, and marketing (CRM), offer negotiation and presentation, closing, and in some cases onboarding.

Each of these sub-processes need to be examined and assessed for their efficiency and value. You should ask yourself whether that process needs to be done at all, and if so should it be done by a recruiter, and if not, by who? You should also ask whether that step could be automated, even partially, and even if it would be less than ideal. You need to apply the 80/20 rule to recruiting automation: if a tool, system, program, or application can do at least 80% of what a recruiter does, than you should switch to the automated process.

I believe that much of what the average recruiter does can either be simplified, eliminated altogether, or be done by automated systems. For example, is it really necessary to interview all candidates? Why can’t you develop and use a screening test of some sort and rely on that alone? Why does every potential candidate need to complete the usual intensive application process when all you need to know are one or two things in order to move the candidate forward? Why can’t you develop and use good CRM techniques and processes to ease the communication problem. There is a lot of room for improvement in the basic processes we follow rather blindly. By adopting a simplified and more automated approach, you free up recruiters so that they can really add value and improve the reputation and significance of the recruiting function.

Redefine the Need

Recruiting should not be a reactive function, only responding to the mandates of hiring managers. Recruiting needs to be the talent partner within the organization. It needs to have the labor market and available skills knowledge to help managers make the best decisions of the type of people to hire.

The model recruiting functions should work very closely with hiring managers, human resources, and other internal professionals to redefine the positions most commonly open. One method is to interview good employees, as defined by hiring managers and performance reviews, and then construct profiles of these employees that can, in turn, be used to construct screening questions. Building a profile of success saves hundreds of hours of recruiting trial and error. This process also affirms which roles are really important and which ones may be less so. Less-critical positions can be outsourced or put on a lower priority. Many times this process identifies changes that need to be made in the skills, competencies, or experience required for a particular role. Looking at the positions that you are being asked to fill in a constructive but positive way, adds to your credibility and aligns the needs more closely to the market.

Workforce Planning

The next step has little to do with traditional recruiting and is usually called workforce planning. It the skill of building forecasting capability and ensuring that the organization has, or can quickly get, the talent it needs to achieve its business objectives.

It requires some knowledge of demographic, economic, and business trends. It also requires a deep knowledge of the talent marketplace and familiarity with the level of education and experience available in the appropriate geography. It means collaborating with the internal training function, senior management, compensation, and human resources in general to agree on which talent is best sought externally, which is best sourced and promoted internally, and which needs to be developed by the company, because recruiting them is difficult and expensive. These tradeoffs and discussions have almost never happened in the past, yet they are becoming what differentiate a great recruiting function from an ordinary one.

Predicting who you will need, what skills will be important, or what experience will be best aligned with needs is not possible. What you can do by combing workforce planning with a talent community is build the potential — a capability to meet future needs — that did not exist before.

Building Talent Communities

Following all of this, only then is it productive to start sourcing and attracting potential candidates to a talent community. My article last week pointed out how a community differs from a talent pool or a database, and the distinction is significant. Talent pools are inefficient and in the end leave you where you started — with a large pool of unknown people who need to be further screened and qualified. A true community screens by the way people interact, by how they communicate, and by who they are connected to.

When an organization has a talent community, it has a dynamic and ever-changing pool of talent, skill, and experience to meet almost any need that might arise.

Recruiting is in dire need of change. Disruptive recruiting will showcase technology and apply it in a practical way toward improving and simplifying the processes that make up recruiting. Disruptive recruiting will also mean that recruiters need different skills, including those of networking and community-building.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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