The Return of the Recruitment Fundamentals (Psst — they never left!)

Apr 8, 2011

The newest, shiniest recruitment tool is …. fundamentals. There, I said it. For some employers, fundamentals are the things we do while we try to get budget and buy-in for the cooler, more fun stuff. Certainly over the last 15 years especially, recruitment has been upended, then right-sided, then upended again, depending on the economy, the state of our businesses, sector growth, talent shortages and surpluses, recruitment solutions du jour, globalization, etc.

Amidst this ongoing constant of change, common themes remain that must be addressed. Fundamental challenges that employers faced before the most recent recession and the proliferation of purported “silver bullet” media options (read: social media), challenges that predate the Internet even < insert gasp> still and will always exist to varying degrees.

Fundamental challenges sometimes require fundamental solutions. They may not be the sexiest solutions or what everyone in our networking groups are talking (sorry, I meant micro-blogging) about, or even what most recruitment marketing firms are proposing, but their impact is far reaching and their value is lasting.

As many employers are evaluating their recruitment and retention challenges, more than ever before are looking inward first for fundamental solutions.

What “fundamentals” am I referring to? They include:

  • The honest and compelling articulation of your employee value proposition. No one can develop your EVP. It exists already. What we can do is define it then determine how to position it honestly and consistently.
  • The constant engagement and re-engagement of your employees. They are your most credible and visible employer brand touch points.
  • The nurturing of a relationship with the right candidate that is facilitated by your immersive and user-focused career website. Assimilate, assimilate, assimilate. Communicate in the manner that your target audience requires. Build for them.
  • A well-promoted and managed referral program.  There’s lots of excitement around referral programs recently as employers are able to tap into their employees’ online networks much more easily. Let’s make sure that program promotion, communication, and energy are equally maintained.
  • Using your existing assets before expending resources externally. That can mean leveraging your consumer/corporate web or social presence; piggybacking on corporate marketing; engaging your PR group to tell the recruitment story; actively maintained alumni outreach programs, etc. All of these little things will add up and reduce an employer’s reliance on paid recruitment tactics.

Believe me, I know that these items are not earth-shattering, but I couldn’t write about anything more important as it relates to an employer’s true recruitment success. I applaud the many employers who continue to work on optimizing these cornerstone fundamentals. This inside-out approach is never done.

In order to illustrate the importance of an inside-out approach, let me call upon the oft-spoken-of but nary seen iceberg. I bet that many of you know that the vast majority of an iceberg, about 90%, is submerged, and you can only see about 10% of it above the surface. Now think about your company. Are your external recruitment activities (the visible 10%) fully supported, reinforced, and bolstered by your internal culture, value proposition, and employees (the 90%)? If you can’t answer “yes!” today, and many employers can’t for valid reasons, it’s something to be discussed and certainly prioritized. What would the visible 10% be without the 90% supporting, reinforcing, and bolstering it? It would be without foundation.

What further clouds the view is the genuine excitement around many of the cool, powerful new tools and tactics that employers have at their disposal. These items do warrant discussion and evaluation. But those discussions must be held in the context of the larger picture. Employers going back to the beginning, optimizing their foundational elements that must bear the heavy lifting required to achieve their objectives. The discussion then becomes how can we strike the right balance — optimizing the foundational elements and augmenting the foundation as appropriate with these new tools and technologies.

Regardless of market conditions, a thoughtful, balanced, inside-out approach will always be needed to recruit and retain top talent. Employers who solely rely on optimizing their foundational elements to recruit and retain the right talent will consistently outperform those employers who are applying the bulk of their focus to the “visible 10%.” In both scenarios, however, without the right balance being struck, not all objectives will be met. Determining the right balance and plan of action is critical.

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