Stop Doing Searches Over and Make Twice as Many Placements

Jun 15, 2012

From what I’ve seen over the past 15 years, working with recruiting teams around the world, it’s apparent that too much time is spent on doing searches over again. This is a huge productivity drain, with recruiters having do the same search over and over again. Worse, most recruiting leaders don’t even measure it, control it, or try to fix it. If you need to send more than 3-4 candidates to the hiring manager, and the manager can’t decide, and wants to see more candidates, you’ve experienced the problem first hand. Solving this problem will allow you to make 50-200% more placements per month.

All solutions start by first figuring out the real cause. In the case of “too many candidates per hire,” it’s most likely one of the five problems described below. However, knowing the cause doesn’t mean it can be easily solved. This is especially true when the problem requires the recruiter and the hiring manager to both admit each might be the cause of the problem, rather than the person with the solution.

To address this, we’ve come up with a rather unusual solution: we’re going to force the recruiter and the hiring manager to both attend a “stop wasting your time” online hiring workshop. This type of program has never been before, but I promised ERE I would present the results at its Spring 2013 Expo (April 15-17, in San Diego). Here’s the idea: we’ve created a new tandem workshop for recruiters and hiring managers to attend together. To get ready for the Expo, I’ve made a deal with ERE so that a few of its members can attend at no cost if they bring one of their hiring managers to the program. (If the July course is filled you’ll automatically be added to the waiting list for the August course.) The course is online, consisting of two two-hour modules. These special seats are limited, so you’ll need to sign-up now to reserve your place. Influencing hiring managers starts with convincing them of the severity of the problem.

Review the five problems below. If they seem common and reasonable, have a frank discussion with one of your hiring managers. Then sign-up for the two sessions. If you have any of the problems, but can’t convince your hiring manager to attend, you have a bigger problem. The big benefits from attending: the hiring manager will stop meeting candidates who won’t get hired, and the recruiter will be able to more searches per month.

Typical problems causing the  “seeing-too-many-candidates” per search:

  1. The recruiter or the manager doesn’t understand real job needs. If neither the recruiter nor the hiring manager knows exactly what you’re looking for, how will you know when you’ve found someone? Here’s the primary cause of the “Waiting for Godot” problem — hiring managers procrastinate, waiting for the ideal candidate to arrive, with the glib comment “I’ll know the person when I see him.” Some say “her,” but either one is an indicator that the search will take far longer than necessary. I suggest using a performance profile to at least define on-the-job success before you start looking.
  2. The hiring manager isn’t too good at assessing competency. If the recruiter uses skills and experience as the primary screen-in or screen-out filter, it’s up to the hiring manager to decide what on-the-job competency looks like. The problem is that people come in all shapes and sizes and many with imperfect experience matches turn out to be perfect candidates. Behavioral interviewing won’t help much on this score either, since these minimize all of the situational fit factors in the assessment. These factors which have been shown to dominate on-the-job performance (e.g. Google Oxygen and Gallup’s Q12) include fit with the job, manager, and culture. In my book Hire With Your Head I suggest using a 2-question performance-based interview to address these fit issues. More important, it gives recruiters the information need to prove the candidate is fully capable of handling all of the job needs described in the performance profile.
  3. The hiring manager is afraid to make a mistake. Newbie managers are especially prone to this problem, but even more seasoned managers who have been recently promoted or have a track record of making bad hiring decisions also find the yes/no hiring decision to be an agonizing one. The Performance-based Hiring process described in Hire With Your Head describes a Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard the hiring manager can use to minimize the risk involved in making the hiring decision. This type of structured yes/no decision tool is often all that’s necessary to get the manager over the fear of making a bad hiring decision.
  4. The recruiter isn’t very good at screening candidates. This problem could be due to overreliance on the job description to weed out weaker candidates. In the process you also might be weeding out the high-potential person the hiring manager actually would like to see and potentially hire. In our Performance-based Hiring training course for hiring managers, we ask them if they would be open to trading off 10-20% of the skills and experience listed on the job description for significant upside potential … and 75-80% say “of course.” Then we demonstrate that using a performance profile to define real job needs in combination with the Achiever Pattern is all that’s needed to make the tradeoff. Recruiters should ask the same question and then incorporate this same technique into their screening process. This is one sure way to improve quality of hire while improving time to fill and increasing productivity.
  5. Good candidates opt out for one reason or another. Let’s be frank: it’s easy to hire an active candidate who has no other options. A top-notch active candidate adds a layer of complexity and competition into the mix, and passive candidates are another breed entirely. If you’re offering lateral transfers to fully-experienced people with multiple options, they’ll opt-out on first contact. Others will opt out if they find out the details behind your job are career enhancing. The rest will opt out at the offer stage if your offer is not competitive on all fronts. Minimizing this cumulative opt-out effect requires strong recruiting skills coupled with hiring managers who understand the difference between hiring for talent and filling seats with the last person standing. Bridging the Gap, writing career-oriented job posts, and using a formal candidate career-decision trade-off process are all effective recruiting countermeasures to minimize the impact of these fallout problems.

If you’re a recruiter and believe you’re presenting too candidates for each search assignment, one of the above problems is likely the cause. If you’re a hiring manager and believe you’re not seeing enough good candidates, how you specify job needs or assess competency is something you should evaluate. At our new recruiting and hiring manager team training workshop, we’ll describe some unusual solutions you can try out right how on one of your current searches. You never know — you might just find a new way to stop doing searches over again.

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