Recruit Faster, Better, Cheaper: Re-engineer your Hiring Process

What slows down the recruiting process? Why can’t we make offers faster, better, cheaper than we do? Well, maybe we can. Let’s take a look at our 5th requirement for a world class recruiting function: the only constraint to filling a position almost immediately should be caused by legitimate scheduling issues. To refresh your memory, these are the qualities that MUST exist for world-class status: 1. PAPER IS NON-EXISTENT (Discussed on Wednesday October 7th) 2. MANAGERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECRUITING PROCESS (Discussed on Wednesday, October 14th) 3. THE ORGANIZATION USES THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPLOYEE IN THE RIGHT POSITION (October 21st) 4. DEVELOPMENT OF TALENT IS PART OF THE RECRUITING MINDSET (October 28th) 5. THE ONLY CONSTRAINTS ON FILLING POSITIONS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY ARE CAUSED BY SCHEDULING DELAYS (November 4th) 6. STAFFING IS PART OF THE IMAGE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION (November 11th) 7. THE ORGANIZATION MEASURES RECRUITING SUCCESS (November 18th) Whenever you analyze the recruiting/hiring cycle within an organization, you will find things that constrain or slow down the hiring process. In many traditional organizations (those far removed from the world-class functions we have been talking about for the last several weeks), you will find numerous constraints. Through the effective use of technology and business process planning, world-class organizations will have reduced constraints and will face only the limitations imposed by managers’ schedules, sickness, travel, and other factors which are hard to predict or control. And even these should be minimal. But most organizations face at least 5 major constraints. Let’s take a look at these and see what solutions may exist. The first constraint is NOT HAVING ANY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES ALREADY IN THE PIPELINE for a position. Whenever this happens, days or weeks may pass before you have even found likely candidates, and then many more weeks pass as you go through your recruiting process. World-class organizations have eliminated this constraint by having a proactive approach to sourcing. They have established a process that has them constantly reviewing, screening, and maintaining contact with good candidates. They use internal referral programs and have developed a talent pool of college interns (and even high school interns) that can immediately be placed in productive positions with almost no delay. World-class institutions have the ability to tap their own databases of candidates that have been found thorough internet searches or who have identified themselves as likely candidates through on-line screening, which is part of the corporate web site. If you look at the web sites of organizations such as Cisco Systems, 3Com, and IBM, you will find numerous ways they screen and find passive candidates to approach. Take a look at Recruitment Enhancement Services, a part of Bernard Hodes Advertising, which is developing software applications that identify and screen people based on the criteria and needs of the organization that uses their services. They also have developed techniques and software to attract the person who was not actively looking for a job until he discovered the corporate site using this software. A very innovative idea indeed! The second constraint is SCREENING AND INTERVIEWING. The tools are now becoming available that allow you to actually interview candidates in real time, via two-way web-video and audio. Screening can be done using tools, similar to those developed by Recruitment Enhancement Services, mentioned above, or by using tools developed by other companies. As this is such an exciting area, I am going to wait and devote an entire column to just this topic soon. Let me just say that world class companies are beginning to explore how to use these tools to lower costs and to eliminate the constraints that are automatically there when you have to arrange travel, set up appointments with numerous managers, and coordinate several schedules. Simple process improvements can also make the need to bring candidates into the office many times unnecessary. You can schedule one set of appointments and have an internal agreement that those who interviewed will be empowered to make the decision. You can let ONE person make a hiring decisions without having the committee approach. Companies need to examine their interviewing process and decide if multiple interviews are really adding value or just escalating costs. Do those who have had more interviews stay longer? Get better performance reviews? Do better work? Meet more goals? I really believe you need to examine all your recruiting practices; ask the tough questions about how useful they really are; and make it a goal to eliminate any that do not add real value. The third is DECISION MAKING AND OFFER PREPARATION, which is almost always an easily eliminated bottleneck. How? Simply decide to remove layers of decision making – establish some routine practices that are flexible enough to let a manger make the decisions she needs to make. Empower managers to make decisions. After all, they are responsible for the output of their functions and need to be able to hire the people they need to do the job. In a world-class function this activity of offer development and preparation should take no more than 4 hours. Offers should be made on-the-spot, at the end of an interview cycle whenever possible. You should have enough trust in your screening process to be able to make decisions easily. If you don’t trust your screening process, what are you doing to fix it? The fourth is BACKGROUND SCREENING. Proactive organizations have outsourced this or automated it and drive theoutsourcing firm to a 48 hour turnaround or better. Many people are wary of the automated background screening process and prefer to go through a provider that uses more traditional methods, e.g. phone, paper, etc. I will examine some of the major services who do background screening in an upcoming column as well. The fifth and final constraint is ORIENTATION AND ENTRY-LEVEL TRAINING. It seems that many new hires are either left to swim without any guidance at all or are subjected to an orientation that is mostly administrivia – paper work, benefits choices, and a lecture about how happy we are they have joined our organization. Do you have a system or process designed to get a newly-hired individual up to speed quickly? Do you make it point to strive for productivity in some period of time, or do you let a new hire flounder around and, in effect, waste time and dollars? Great companies help a new hire by providing training — useful training — right away. They assign mentors for a few weeks to help the new hire get established and they ensure that any problem is dealt with quickly. Remember, as in any relationship, you only have ONCE to make good impression. After that it’s too late to make them feel better. When companies have put in place systematic processes for assimilation and orientation, they all report higher productivity and better morale among the new and the more experienced employees. So in summary, streamline the way you recruit. Use systems and tools to eliminate nonvalue-added activities. Examine and question everything you do, and make changes whenever you can in favor of simplicity. Complexity is rarely a good solution. Set a goal for how long it should take to fill a given position and then work to achieve your goal. And make that goal tough enough that you will have to change something very profoundly to reach it! I suggest you start by saying you will cut whatever time it now takes you to hire for a particular position in half. From 4 days to 2, from 2 weeks to 1 week. Then figure out how to do it without compromising on quality. It can be done. General Electric under Jack Welch has been doing this for years in almost everything, and they are a better and more profitable company today than they were when he first took over. It’s not easy, but it can be done. See you next week.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at