Overcoming Recruiting’s Struggle for Influence

Recruiting gains power and influence when businesses face staffing shortages and fierce competition for talent. But that’s not the world we’re in right now. 

With rampant layoffs in the tech sector (including among recruiting staff), a fairly long time to hire, and even a recent report suggesting that HR is deemphasizing recruiting in favor of employee retention, the next few months (or quarters) could see recruiting’s influence diminish.

To keep recruiting front-and-center in executives’ minds (and priorities and budgets), TA leaders need to ensure that their messaging is exquisitely tailored to their audience, especially CEOs, COOs, and CFOs. 

To put this more bluntly, recruiting leaders need to replace some of their emotional words and stories with more numbers and data. Research reveals four primary communication styles: analytical, intuitive, functional, and personal.

  • Analytical communicators want hard facts and numbers.
  • Those with an intuitive style prefer the bottom line quickly, without lots of detail or backstory.
  • People with a functional style desire a step-by-step process breakdown.
  • And personal communicators like emotional language in a friendly and warm way.

Based on the research findings, we know that in HR 37% of people are personal communicators and 25% are functional; the language in HR departments (including TA) heavily skews toward feelings and then toward step-by-step detail.

Finance departments, however, are nearly the opposite, with 30% evidencing an analytical style and another 30% preferring the intuitive style. In finance, the language will involve lots of data, numbers, and getting to the endpoint as quickly as possible. While in operations areas, 30% use an analytical communication style, and that number is 35% in information-technology departments.

In short, if you’re a recruiting leader who needs the mental, political, and financial resources of finance, operations, or IT, it’s likely worth reframing your message to couch it in terms better suited to analytical and intuitive communicators.

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There’s a strong argument to be made for why a company needs to keep recruiting even during layoffs or an economic slowdown. But too often, that argument is focused on relieving overworked and burned-out staff, missing out on great talent, or declining customer service. Those are all very real downsides when an organization cuts recruiting, but those messages are less relevant to people with a heavily analytical or intuitive communicative style.

Imagine instead that the pitch for maintaining recruiting efforts contained messages like this:

  • This organization spent $1.4 million last quarter in excess overtime costs because we didn’t fill those hours with full-time staff.
  • The three departments with unfilled positions didn’t meet their profit targets because they couldn’t fill the orders within the 14 days required by our suppliers.
  • Every day that this position remains unfilled, we lose $12,000 in revenue (or it costs us $4,000 in contractor expenses).

Those are fictional examples, of course, but the point of those messages is to build a case based on hard data and specific numbers. The data and numbers do need to be accurate, however, as analytical communicators are notoriously distrusting of people that don’t appear to have a command of the facts.

Tweaking your messaging isn’t a cure-all, but in a year where things might get tougher for recruiting to stay relevant and visible in the minds of the executive team, every little advantage becomes important.

Mark Murphy is the CEO of Leadership IQ and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include Hiring For Attitude, Hundred Percenters, HARD Goals, and Managing Narcissists, Blamers, Dramatics and More. Mark’s groundbreaking leadership studies have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and U.S. News & World Report. Mark has also appeared on CNN, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, and ABC’s 20/20. He’s trained leaders at the United Nations, Harvard Business School, Microsoft, Mastercard, and hundreds more.

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