From the Front Lines: Part 2

May 2, 2002

In Part 1, we explored the ways a recruitment agency is working to scale its practice through technology and proven recruitment methodologies. Today we visit the corporate side, in an effort to understand how recruitment processes there are working, changing, and converging with new technology. There may be ideas here some of you can use, just as there will be practices and technologies outlined that some of you have been using for some time. The world of recruitment is going through some changes ó and understanding how they are taking place on the front lines can help all of us improve our daily activities. Advent Software is a good company. Advent has been in business for 19 years serving the financial investment community with software to help run their business. They sell portfolio management software and automation solutions to firms of all sizes, small to global, and six years ago took the company public. In the last two years, the company has grown from 550 employees to just under 1000. Advent’s current recruitment strategy, as outlined by the company’s senior technical recruiter and staffing strategist, Mason Wong, is focused on:

  • Cost reduction and control
  • Scalability through technology
  • Sourcing, recruiting and hiring quality talent

I visited with Mason recently and got straight to the heart of the matter, asking him specifically how he and his team of five recruiters recruit today. He gave me a list of their current recruitment practice methodologies, and told me about some of the changes they have put in place since 2000:

  1. The recruitment team has moved to a centralized function to better manage all staffing.
  2. They build strong relationships with hiring managers by attending meetings and by inviting managers to their own.
  3. They have educated all recruiters on Advent’s business model and plans for the future.
  4. They have reduced utilization of recruitment agencies while increasing quality hiring through centralized vendor management. By reducing agency usage from 18% to 8%, they managed to reduce staffing costs from 70% to less than 45% of budget.
  5. They have eliminated costs on career fairs, newspaper advertising, and ineffective career websites. Instead, they now concentrate their Internet postings on HotJobs and Monster and have increased college recruitment from two to eight percent of budget.
  6. All recruiters receive quarterly bonuses based on the number of positions they fill.
  7. Senior recruiters receive an additional annual bonus for keeping hiring cost down.

Advent’s recruitment team understands that in order to keep costs in check while driving quality recruitment results, they must scale their own internal recruiting engine. To accomplish this Mason, and team have implemented technology that allows them to approach their hiring and retention needs in a more strategic manner. Specifically, they are turning to Advent’s website as the place to build a pool of talent to satisfy current and future hiring needs. “Staffing needs good current data,” Mason told me. “If we can automatically get clean and immediate data on candidates who are interested, qualified, and available, it allows us time to do what we do best: recruit and close great candidates.” Advent began inviting its website visitors to profile their career interests quickly and anonymously, if they chose, in hopes they could build a pool of talent to hire from that included both active and passive candidates. “We launched our new career site Jan 23rd,” Mason said, “and since that time we have built a pool of over 12,000 interested candidates who we can now market to. Recently, we sent a press release outlining our recent financial successes to everyone in our community ó passive and active. We had great response and expect to hire candidates from our pool as a result of this marketing effort”. Making these methodology changes and technology decisions were not easy, though. It took coordinated effort and time. To define how they wanted to move their recruitment organization forward, Advent’s team used the following matrix: Here you can see how they delineate those activities that have high or low cost and high or low administration. They have ascertained that their internal administrative costs and success rates indicate where and how they should spend their money and time. To date it’s working. One note. Mason indicated that the company is moving to a fully automated referral system this fall that will give a higher degree of self-service to employees who refer candidates, to candidates who are referred, and to those who administer the solution. This referral technology will fall in line with the principles Mason and his team have put into place. Mason has a few suggestions for any corporation scaling their recruitment efforts through new technology. Once the decision is made:

  • Embrace the technology you’ve chosen
  • Overcome any fears of the technology
  • Execute on the plan

Again, for many of you there may not be a great deal of news here. For others the example is an affirmation for processes and systems you’ve put in place or are considering. But the interesting point here is that companies and agencies alike are working to find new ways to source, recruit, and hire quality candidates. For Advent it comes down to cost control, technology, and a great group of recruiters. A note: Advent, like a number of other companies, is working to reduce agency usage and cost. This could be an indication that the market is asking for new services from traditional recruitment firms. As mentioned in Part 1, some are considering unbundling their services while approaching the market with different pricing models. I don’t know that anyone has the answer yet. But it does appear that if more companies turn to their own internal recruitment organizations to lower costs, the agency market may be in for a bit of a change. Thanks for taking the time to read. Hope I stimulated some thoughts and ideas. In the meantime…good recruiting!