Some Recruiting Tidbits from Recruiting Veterans

Mar 13, 2002

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin We’ve been up and down, and now it appears we’re on our way back up. Our recruiting and staffing organizations have suffered through downsizing and budget cuts, which means it’s a good time to consider if we have the right infrastructure and process in place to handle the next recruitment wave. Ideally the answer lies in a convergence of great recruiting basics and technology that allows greater scale, reach, productivity and analytics. In today’s article, we review some simple recruiting basics ó from some great recruiters ó that can ensure recruitment success. Great recruiters have proven techniques and processes they consistently use because they work. These include where they source, how they begin every conversation, how they listen, gather information, close, etc. If you have special ways of taking candidates and clients through the recruiting process and they work, congratulations ó use them. But it does help sometimes to compare notes, and maybe even more so in today’s changing market and economic climate. Talking to several recruiting veterans recently, I learned they’re facing a recruiting world today much more consistent with the early 1990s versus the recent bubble. In the early ’90s, candidates did not move as easily as they had been previously, nor did companies make decisions as quickly. I asked these three successful recruiting veterans (and good friends) recently to divulge a recruiting tidbit ó the business ingredient that keeps them successful in business today. Read on, it might be interesting. Remember, I’m not telling you how to recruit ó just sharing a few ideas that work. It’s in the Numbers I started recruiting with Cary Tobolka in 1979 and worked with him through 1989. We worked in a national agency environment and recruited by the numbers. I had an interesting discussion with Cary recently about his business. He has multiple agencies, recruits in high tech, and has successfully made market transitions based on changing business environments. But he told me that this last change was different. “When we were faced with market changes in the past we never got away from the numbers,” he said. “We constantly measured how many calls it took to find the right recruit, how many calls were made each day, and did the same with the number of interviews it took to fill a position for both the client and the candidate. But in the past few years, the numbers got so low that we lost the need to measure. A position that took five to ten interviews to fill got down to two. Recruiting got easy and we lost focus on the basics.” Cary’s firm is doing well today, and he attributes his success to running his business strictly by the numbers ó quality numbers. His team’s daily activity is measured and qualified. Some of you I’m sure have never gotten away from these key measurements. And whether you’re an internal, external, or contract recruiter, knowing the activity metrics it takes to be successful and measuring daily is very important. Here are some of the metrics that Cary uses:

  • Number of daily candidate sourcing calls
  • Call results
  • Number of position interviews
  • Daily interview feedback by position
  • Number of client interface meetings, by phone or in person
  • Number of new requisitions to be filled
  • Time to fill

Daily measurement of quality performance metrics leads to knowledge and success. Whether recruiting for a company or agency, understanding your activity will help you understand your business in sophisticated and strategic ways. Agree on activity to be measured and then put a process in place to understand daily performance. It works. I Need Your Help Bob Luben is an old friend who started recruiting in 1989. He literally called me one day when I was contracting at Tandem, told me he was starting in the business, and asked for my help. The person I encountered at that first lunch meeting was an old hippie and rags salesman with a great sense of humor and absolutely no fear. He was going to be a high-tech recruiter but needed to know the difference between software and hardware. A silly question to some, but Bob just needed the data in order to move to the next step in his quest. And his key tidbit to successful recruiting? No fear…he just asks for help. I helped Bob that day, but not much ó he didn’t need it. Within 18 months Bob was the number one recruiter for Management Recruiters. No small feat, and now he and his lovely wife live a wonderful life in Hawaii. Bob still recruits, but he may, at times, carry out a conversation with a candidate or client while gardening. Bob’s key ó the ability to ask the question ó is not unique in recruiting. We all do it or have done it. If you have not asked a source, prospect, candidate or client for help recently, get back to it. Bob taught me that recruiting is a daily and wonderful adventure, one where you meet the most interesting people and build lifelong friendships and relationships. I recently ran into one of the top project managers for a major semiconductor firm. I knew he had worked with Bob, and I asked him for his assessment of Bob’s recruiting skills. His eyes lit up, he smiled and said, “What a character! He gets me on the phone and engages me in lengthy conversations by asking me simple but great questions. Next thing you know he’s got all the information he needs. Hell of a recruiter.” If you’re stuck, or you’re not working at the pace you’re accustomed to, try asking for help. A door to an incredible and successful adventure may be opened. It’s All About Relationships Sally Pedley is one of the most successful recruiters I know, and she has one of the greatest reputations in our business. I’ll bet you know the type: always happy, nothing gets her down, always has business, and always doing something fun. So where is the recruiting tidbit in this one? Sally is unique in my book because she thinks about others before herself. I call it her “culture of reciprocity.” She does nice things for people with no expectation of anything in return and gets it back tenfold. Sounds biblical and maybe it is, though I don’t believe Sally would present it that way. It’s just the way she is. If a candidate calls and she has no position or need she will go out of her way to ensure they meet someone who can help. If she comes across a candidate and knows where they would add value to a company, but also knows they aren’t paying fees or doesn’t have a working relationship with them, she’ll help close the deal for nothing. Of course, she has the business from that day forward. Sally is a joy to work with, and clients and candidates thrive on the relationships they have with her. Great relationships can be built inside companies or out. It depends on you and your desire to do it. Think about your market, your internal hiring customers. Do they like your results? Do they like you? Have you gone out of your way to help them recently? Tragically, we were reminded of the value of neighbors and sincere relationships last September. Don’t forget. Take a hint from Sally: get results, but be a friend. What About You? There are more than just these few recruiting tidbits that ensure one’s success. I spoke with several of you out there, and consistently you spoke of:

  • Passion
  • Confidence
  • Listening skills
  • Hands-on Recruiting
  • Recruiting technology skills
  • Business knowledge

All of these are important. I believe we all agree that if you measure your activity, ask questions, show no fear, and work to build relationships, you will create a foundation of recruitment success. It’s important we understand, remember, and practice these recruitment skills, especially as we take the convergence of recruitment process and technology to the next level. Every recruiter has his or her own tidbit or process that makes them successful. If you have great stories and techniques to share and I’d like to hear from you. In the meantime, good luck and good business!

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