Hiring the Best Is a Team Sport

If you want to hire top quality candidates in the shortest period of time at a reasonable cost, you’ll need to organize your team to meet the ever more challenging recruiting demands of your company.

In my opinion, most corporate recruiting departments have been created using the Lone Ranger model. Hiring third-party recruiters and allowing them to play using their own rules is a losing proposition. It’s inefficient, results are unpredictable, and doing this leaves your recruiting efforts at risk if one of your starters leaves. If you want to scale “best practices and best processes,” you have to start with a well-organized team of specialists doing the right things every time.

With this in mind, here’s how I’d field a team for a corporate recruiting department. Of course, if you’re a big company, you might have more than one person in each position and if you’re smaller you might have one person doing everything. I’m drafting my fantasy team right now (you’ll see some of my selections below), but go ahead and email me your nominations and we’ll make them public at a future ERE event.

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The Basic Positions on a Corporate Recruiting Team

  1. Workforce planner. There is no way a company can hire top people on a consistent basis unless it can forecast its hiring needs using some type of rolling 12-month planning process. The key to this is to require that all department heads submit their hiring needs by quarter during the annual budgeting process. Changes (up or down) to this forecast need to be made on a quarterly basis, adding one additional quarter so you always have one-year visibility. With a good workforce plan, cost and time to hire will decline while candidate quality increases. The extra time allows for the use of complimentary and lower-cost sourcing channels. To fill this role, I’d select someone from the operations side of retail, hospitality, or distribution. Top people in these industries understand the importance of accurately forecasting resources (people, capital, facilities) to meet changing business needs.
  2. Web analytics and metrics expert. The recruiting department must have sophisticated analytical information to measure every aspect of its sourcing and recruiting efforts. Select someone for this position outside of recruiting/HR ? probably in consumer-products marketing ? and have the person optimize each page in your website process to maximize visits, retention rates, and candidate quality. On the metrics side, get someone from manufacturing or distribution who knows how to implement process control metrics, not historical metrics.
  3. Active candidate advertising expert. This person needs to maximize the number of top people who respond to your advertising programs. Working with the workforce plan, this person will lead your advertising strategy efforts ? including selecting the best boards and directing your recruiting advertising agency. Select someone for this position who has successfully led Internet-based consumer-product advertising programs and knows how to reverse-engineer your sourcing process.
  4. Passive candidate researcher. Getting names of passive candidates requires Internet data-mining experts. If you can’t hire Shally Steckerl, you need to find someone just like him to provide reams of names for every hard-to-fill spot in your company.
  5. Passive candidate networker. This person must make 30 or so calls a day to these cold candidates, recruit them, and get two-to-three top-quality referrals on each call. This will probably be the most important person on your team. I don’t like fearless cold-callers for this position. From what I’ve seen, the best people are confident, low-key, extremely professional, have great job knowledge, and are very comfortable calling and engaging people as part of their research.
  6. Full-cycle executive recruiter (i.e., account manager). This is the person taking the assignment, writing performance profiles, counseling your candidates, coaching your hiring team, and negotiating the close. Part of this is leading panel interviews and the formal debriefing session with the hiring team. When selecting people for this position, look for people who are orchestra leaders who can influence senior-level executives and have successfully completed difficult searches.
  7. High-volume candidate customer-service rep (i.e., recruiting advisors). You don’t have time to hand-hold every single candidate, especially when you need to hire dozens of people a month for the same position. However, if you want to hire top performers for these entry-level or critical high-volume spots, you do need someone who can advise and counsel them during the process. These recruiting advisors need to provide career advice, answer questions, extend and close the offer, and follow-up to minimize no-shows.
  8. Recruiting process and technology expert. If you want to get more out of your technology, you need someone who knows all aspects of high-volume recruiting processes and can walk the talk. This person must be seen as a recognized expert and one who has a strong backbone, since the person will be leading all discussions with your IT department and your technology providers. This person’s performance needs to be measured on how well your company automates good recruiting processes, not doing bad stuff faster. Carl Bradford is the prototype for this type of person.
  9. Employee referral program name solicitor. This is the person who meets with your employees and asks them for the names of the best people they have ever worked with. Instead of hiring one person to do this, why not have every person on your recruiting team personally meet with five to 10 employees every week and track their results? Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds of names of top performers. Then turn these names over to your passive-candidate networker to get even more names of great people. This might be all you need to do to fill every position in your company.
  10. College recruiter. Everyone does this already, so too much doesn’t need to be said here, other than how important this is to your company’s long-term success. Key: hire a person who can interface as a peer with the career directors and the top professors at the best schools in the country to get the names of the best students. Select this person wisely.
  11. Diversity recruiter. First, I would hire a diverse person to lead this effort. Then I would start meeting college freshmen and high-school seniors as part of a four-year diversity hiring initiative to ensure that your company hires the lion’s share when they graduate. From what I have seen, the best diversity-hiring programs are based on a long-term process, not a series of one-time events. Equally as important: the line-management team must be fully engaged at every step in this process, and you must demonstrate how diverse people are making a difference at your company.
  12. CRM and resume-database-mining specialist. Don’t wait for your applicant tracking system vendor to come up with a solution. Dump all of your resumes and passive-candidate info into some large database and overlay this with a basic high-volume email manager (why not use salesforce.com?). Together, develop a series of drip marketing and automated email programs to touch these future employees every few weeks. Provide company and industry updates, practical “how to do the job” information, and an offer to check out the hot job of the month. Also, add a “find a friend” to IM/email/chat about career opportunities at your company. You may fill 5% to 10% of your jobs this way with some top performers.
  13. Assessments leader. Skills-based assessments are great tools if you don’t lose top performers in the process. If you don’t need a full-time person for this role, get Charles Handler to give you the straight scoop.
  14. The coach. If you’re a recruiting manager, evaluate your team along these lines to see whether you have the best people assigned to each role. Your job is to field the best team possible and track their performance. If you’re the person responsible for hiring a recruiting manager, you need to judge them on how well they’ve put the team in place and whether they’re winning the hiring game. Here’s a link to a self-assessment test your recruiters can take to see how they rank themselves. You can score them yourself using the same test and compare the two evaluations.
  15. The hiring manager and the hiring team. Too bad you can’t select your clients, but a good process in place can help you win the hiring game. In my opinion, to get hiring right, everyone on the hiring team must agree to the real job needs and they must all adhere to some type of objective assessment process. The key here is to have some “rules of the game” in place before you begin playing; otherwise, you’ll never win.

Combine positions or hire outside experts to set up the initial process depending on the size of your company and its hiring needs. You can “time share” these skills, using one person to handle multiple jobs, as long as you have a good workforce plan in place to prioritize projects.

Bottom line: hiring top talent is a team sport, but I haven’t seen too many corporations who have organized their teams to win this way. Worse, every manager and every interviewer follows their own rules, there are no referees or umpires and no instant replay, so you’d better wear your helmet and protective gear if you want to play the hiring game and you’d like to win.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).

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