What Successful Recruiters Are Doing Right

Aug 13, 2014

team_leader_free_stock_photo_bYesterday I listed seven operational habits that characterize unsuccessful recruiters. In this second part, I examine not only the actions that distinguish the successful recruiters, but also the talent mindset that must be adopted. It is the capacity to embrace a “paradigm shift” in your recruiting philosophy that really determines how successful you will be in your talent acquisition efforts.

First, let’s stop fooling ourselves. 

For the last 20 years, our recruiting game plan has been to post generic job descriptions, and to wait for the superior applicants, the “A Players,” to be drawn to our employment websites like moths to a flame. Sadly, many savvy recruiters have come to realize job descriptions designed for the compensation process are just not adequate for consistently recruiting world-class employees.

In has been my experience that successful recruiters typically:

  1. “Deep-Six” generic job descriptions. They focus on “romancing” the best passive hires through highly creative advertising and targeting referrals from the two highly effective sources — networking and employees.
  2. Realize no single combination of education and experiences define the “A Players.” Just because a candidate possesses the credentials listed on the posting, there is no guarantee the candidate can actually achieve the deliverables necessary for superior performance in the job. A much better strategy would be for us to work with our hiring managers to identify what success looks like in the position (success profile”). Identify the success deliverables that will be used in the incumbent’s annual performance review and recruit by them. The success profile will be used in job postings and advertising, mandated as an essential element of the cover letter screening process, used in performance-based interviews, and used in the final selection process.
  3. Prefer to have a high yield ratio for each phase of the recruitment process, zeroing in on a relatively small group of candidates who are highly qualified.
  4. Prioritize the only metric that truly matters to our hiring managers … quality of hire.
  5. Communicate a career opportunity and articulate a compelling employee value proposition). Otherwise, how can we motivate a top passive candidate to leave her current employer, uproot her family, and move to a strange city — just to work for us? Recruitment advertising should be written from the point of view of the candidate, not the organization. Good employment advertising describes the factors that are most attractive to “A player” candidates: challenging work that makes a difference, great supervision, advancement opportunities, and working with other stars. If recruitment ads do not contain this type of information (and most don’t), you will have an extremely hard time sourcing and recruiting the best passive candidates.
  6. Use performance-based interviewing rather than behavioral interviewing that is a) severely outdated, and b) focused on behavior and not performance. Volumes of research clearly indicate past performance, not past behavior, is the best predictor of on-the-job success.
  7. Understand poor diversity recruiting is simply a key performance indicator of the overall quality in your recruitment process — the solution is not achieved as an after-the-fact adjustment to your regular recruiting process. Diversity and quality are inseparable. By implementing a compelling value proposition for all your candidates, you will consistently increase the quality of your hires, and — with some minor tweaking — greatly improve the diversity of your hires.

Effective talent acquisition involves sourcing applicants who would not normally see your job ads, engaging candidates who would not otherwise apply for your positions, and poaching top employees from your competitors. If you are not accomplishing these basic objectives, you may want to re-examine some of the habits of the successful recruiters listed above.

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