Systems, Processes, and Structure – Oh My!

Oct 1, 2007

I have, firsthand, experienced building a relationship from the ground up several times. I made one or two placements and before I knew it, I had made 20 or 30, or even 200 over a period of time. I am sure we have all had the experience of a very large account that, over time, uses us less or even stops using us entirely. In some cases, the hiring manager leaves the organization, and our relationship goes with him. In other cases, the company grows so significantly with our unique contribution that we work ourselves out of a job because they have added to their recruiting staff and can no longer justify our fees.

Either way, no matter how good you are or what great service you personally provide, companies change, people change, jobs change, responsibilities change, and often our key contact is out of the picture before we can blink an eye, and very shortly after that, so are we. We all know that relationships are critical in our line of business, yet that alone is not sufficient to guarantee our prosperity and long-term success as talent management professionals. It is the systems, processes, and operating practices that we utilize to deliver our services that withstand the test of time, personnel changes, and cost-saving measures.

There is NOTHING that differentiates and solidifies like standardized systems, processes, and service offerings. How many of us would be willing to promise or guarantee that our service consistently operates with and makes the best choices for their customers? For our industry to grow collaboratively in volume, VALUE must be present on a continuous basis.

For a moment use your imagination, the science fiction part of your brain, and go 20 years into the future. How will recruitment in 2027 be the same? How will it be different? Given the exponential growth taking place in the frontal lobe of the human brain over the past 300 years and the human mind’s capacity to expand and innovate, my theory is that some things will stay the same while everything will change.

Companies can and will find what they need through a myriad of alternative resources, other than a traditional 32% search and placement firm, and we as an industry must band together and innovate or we will see our fees, our margins, and our market share disintegrate.

I just read today in a leading staffing industry report that Adecco purchased a recruitment process outsourcing provider, which was no surprise to me after visiting the SHRM conference this summer and seeing 15 brand-new RPO providers exhibiting. Furthermore, I was recently advised to Google “baker’s dozen RPO” and came to find that again the industry leaders are jumping on the RPO bandwagon. These companies charge flat fees and conduct massive nationwide hiring programs; they systematize the process such that they can take advantage of the economies of scale. They charge much less than a standard placement fee and sign contracts with key members of the management team affording them exclusivity within multiple departments and with hiring managers within these companies. While other recruiters pooh-pooh these concepts, and companies, frankly their existence rocks me.

Recruitment outsourcing is here, and like, it is another means to commoditize what many of us have been doing to earn a living for a very long time.

Am I fearful that this signals our industry’s demise? Certainly not. What I am concerned about is the future perception of our industry, and that we continue to be respected as the founders, leaders, and experts in the recruitment field.

There are obvious advantages to incorporating functional and repeatable systems and processes within your company. It begins with using these types of processes to differentiate and separate yourself and your service from the sea of competition. It is sustained through systematic management of those operating systems and processes that serve to augment the delivery of your service efforts while enhancing your ability to deliver on the promises of your sales representatives. Addition-ally, another aspect of having solid systems and processes is that you will see a dramatic decrease in the time it takes for a new recruiter to make her mark and generate a financial return on your hiring investment. Finally, you can reengineer your internal staffing plan to include a person or two who thrives on managing and working within defined parameters, and it leverages your overhead substantially because the rainmakers make it rain and get paid for that.

The taskmaster plans and prepares for the rain, catches the rain in buckets, and utilizes the rainwater for a myriad of purposes, and gets paid in accordance with that contribution. This also leaves the rainmaker to focus on the profound privilege of making it rain.

Some of the systems that I have built within my recruiting firm are search processes, applicant screening checklists, a front office intake system, and interviewing systems and guides. I have also harnessed some of the leading assessment tools and talent evaluation programs, as well as developing some of my own, to aid my staff in recommending the very best talent for our clients’ needs. Additionally, I have implemented a “Sandler,” a.k.a. Alliance, Selling System, as well as a marketing protocol structure and a proven order-fulfillment method. Actually, all in all I have developed a comprehensive 26-step “A to Z” recruitment and sales system that itemizes every step of the day-to-day operation, creates maximum efficiency, and eliminates many of the pitfalls encountered in the staffing and recruiting process.

Whether we are competing against corporate HR with lucrative hiring and referral bonuses, or with Monster, CareerBuilder, and the like, or with virtual recruiting networks, offshore recruiters, or RPOs, things certainly are NOT getting any easier; they are becoming more challenging every day. My call to action is to arm yourself with what the big guys are arming themselves with – systems, structures, and processes that afford you the ease to leverage your time, money, and resources. See my article in this issue on the RPO function.

Best in success.

Margaret Graziano
Alliance HR Network, Inc.
85 West Algonquin, Suite 170 Arlington Heights, Il 60005
(847) 690-1312

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