Recruiting & Candidate Development
The jellyfish, having little means of propulsion, is at the mercy of the ocean’s currents. Where the currents go, so does the jellyfish.
While for millions of years this arrangement has served jellyfish well, it is bad news for anyone in business¾especially corporate Staffing professionals. In today’s fast-paced and hyper-competitive economy a passive approach is doomed to fail. The sharks will gobble you up.
In the Staffing industry order-takers are like jellyfish. They respond to conditions after the fact. When the boss suddenly announces, “Smithers has given his two weeks’ notice! We need to hire a new vice president of marketing!”, the order-taker sees this as something totally unexpected. Nevertheless the order-taker dutifully responds by putting a notice on the company website and purchasing a classified ad. Then the order-taker waits for the phone to ring.
Two weeks later the boss knocks on the door. “Have we found anyone yet for that vice-president job? This is Smithers’s last day. I need someone!”
The order-taker shrugs. “Sorry, boss. We’ve gotten a pile of resumes but they’re all from high school dropouts. No one is qualified.”
Sadly the clueless order-taker has put the company’s future in jeopardy.
The key is to lead a team of Recruiting professionals who take a consultative approach...the RecruitCONSULT philosophy. They cannot be mere order-takers. The team’s task is to be clairvoyant and proactive.
Clairvoyant because you need to be able to see into the future. You need to know that Smithers is unhappy even before he knows it.
Proactive because you need to have a pool of candidates ready to contact the day Smithers announces he’s leaving.
Unless your organization is small and you are a one-person Staffing shop, you will need a team. Your team needs to be as dedicated as you are to providing the best possible value to the organization.
Assembling your consultative Staffing team is not unlike putting together a sports team. You need to find the most highly skilled players who have the drive to win and the willingness to set egos aside to reach the common goal…the RecruitCONSULT philosophy.
Talent Acquisition Skill Sets
I’m a big believer that if you focus on a core set of skills necessary to do a job any number of people with varying backgrounds can fill the role (of course you’ll have to determine if they can fit into your culture). In this instance, whereas the recruiters in the 1990s (and even still today) need great relationship, communication, sourcing, searching and technology skills, recruiters today need to add skills in project management, social networking, teamwork, and political savvy capabilities, among others. Below is my quick and dirty list of some of the core skills necessary in hiring recruiters:
- Communications skills (written & verbal)
- Relationship skills
- Project management abilities
- Ability to be a strategic partner
- Self-starter/takes initiative
- Political savvy
- Computer/technology skills
- Social networking skills
- Searching, sourcing, other technical skills
- Creativity/innovative thinking
With this skill set in hand we can broaden the horizons of our profession and bring in new blood.
But before we search elsewhere let’s take a moment to look in our own backyard and the issues one might face in Recruiting from other Staffing environments. What are some of these environments:
- Third-party Recruiting vendors (contingency, retained search firms)
- Human resource departments/internal Recruiting and Staffing teams
- Recruitment outsourcing firms (RPOs)
With respect to these professionals, the most critical issue you can address is what you can do whereby a good Talent Acquisition professional would want to leave their company to come work for yours. Here are two suggestions:
1. Ensure that the job you’re offering is one in which a recruiter gets to recruit. Full life-cycle recruiters (full life-cycle recruiters handle everything from the intake with the hiring manager to sourcing the candidates to assessing the candidates and to presenting and closing candidates) really don’t want to deal with “administrivia”—coordinating candidate travel and interviews, running reports, dealing with applicant tracking issues, and so on. (Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are very important to the process.)They want to recruit. The more that someone has logistical and administrative support (especially compared to their current role), the more attractive the opportunity to perhaps make a move.
2. Enable the Staffing professional to deal directly with the end client and be a strategic partner. Whether it’s an in-house or third-party recruiter, invariably they’ve had to go through at least one other party (such as an HR generalist) before getting to the client. Enabling them to work closely with the ultimate client will be catnip to the high quality Staffing professional.
Okay, this is all well and good, but we can only dip from the same well and recycle the same water for so long. To further the profession we need to attract and develop the next generation of great Talent Acquisition professionals and bring in people with the skills we need. From where, you ask? Here are some other areas that may be attractive:
Project management—A key skill set that we explore in greater detail in this chapter. These would be individuals that could come from purchasing, logistics or operations planning areas, among others. (I actually know a company that actively recruits project managers from construction and architecture firms to become recruiters. It works immensely well, and this company has nothing to do with construction or architecture!). These professionals have great initiative, relationship management, and, likely, technical skills and could also come from engineering or design firms or advertising agencies.
Sales and Marketing—Sales and marketing professionals have many of the skills I have mentioned. They’re self-starters with strong relationship and project management skills. They’re not as team-oriented, typically, but the trickier issue is you’re sort of in a bind with sales people in the following way: if you recruit from within your own company you don’t want to “take out” the best sales people (also if they’re true sales people and doing great they probably won’t want to move) and yet you don’t want a failed sales person. However, if anyone on your staff comes from sales it’s often best to have sales people recruit other sales people.
Operations—Operations people may have many of the skills we seek, in particular project management and team/strategic-orientation skills. But the real advantage to having operations professionals as recruiters is they typically recruit in their area of expertise. So for instance, engineers recruit engineers, technology experts recruit technology experts. This expertise gives them a built-in credibility with hiring managers.
Management trainee programs—Many “academy” companies, such as consumer packaged goods, hospitality, retail, and rental car have some sort of training program where they bring in newly minted college grads with promises of someday running the world¾and getting paid handsomely for it. The problem (or opportunity for us) is not everyone can be a manager and often after one or two years (the ideal time to approach someone from this area) a certain number of trainees will have realized they don’t want to be in the industry they’re in. Perhaps they could fit into our world?
Professional service pros (legal, accounting, management consulting)—It is very natural for someone from one of the service areas above to make the leap into Recruiting. In fact this is the area from which large search firms draw upon the most. People from these areas understand a service/strategic orientation, have solid communications skills, and are the ultimate project managers.
Stock brokers/real estate professionals—These individuals share many, if not most, of the characteristics of sales people. So if they’re a solid performer compensation issues could be a factor. However, if they have struggled in a competitive market or the market suddenly cools, they could still have what it takes to be a great recruiter. And bringing someone like that in-house, especially from the real estate business, would give them the stability they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Journalists—Journalists are great communicators, have strong sourcing and research skills, and are innovative self-starters. They also typically have competent interpersonal skills and are great project managers. In addition, compensation would likely be a lure to them. These include freelance and staff writers. I can tell you about several people I have personally hired in my past experience that I found from simply looking at the masthead of my local weekly business journal and introducing myself to the poor researcher who had to call up businesses day in and day out to qualify them for the ubiquitous “book of lists.” These people have been very excited to learn about an opportunity they never considered and have been successful. (You may need to start them out in the sourcing process and then later move them into full-cycle Recruiting.)
Technical education teachers—Those from a community college or business or technical institute (they even may be part-time or adjunct faculty) have many of the skills required. What they may lack in business experience they make up for in substance. Communication, project management, and creativity/innovation skills are all strengths.
Political campaign workers—They are the ultimate project-managers, with savvy, great sourcing capabilities, and great relationship skills. A natural leap from the volatile (and not the most highly paid) world of politics.
College admissions professionals—They read a lot of backgrounds, they meet a lot of people, and they have lots of projects. They’re not as savvy with corporate environments, so technical schools would be ideal.
The key to identifying and hiring outstanding team members is to think outside the box and look at the personality of the potential team member. Technical skills can be taught. You can teach any intelligent person how to build a database or read a resume. What you cannot change is attitude. Is this person proactive or do they sit around and wait to be told what to do? Are they naturally gregarious? I hate to use the old cliché about the potential team member needing to be a “people person,” but it’s true. If you aren’t genuinely interested in people¾their hopes and dreams and vision of the future¾you need to be in another line of business.
Of course, you’re not running a school for recruiters. You want professionals who can bring value to your team. Once you have identified a pool of prospects who have the right attitude and team spirit you can focus on those candidates who can hit the ground running.
(Excerpted from “RecruitCONSULT! Leadership—The Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader’s Field Book”, www.RecruitCONSULT.net )
Jeremy Eskenazi, SPHR is Managing Principal of Riviera Advisors, Inc., a global Human Resources management consulting firm that helps organizations improve and enhance their internal talent acqusition and staffing capabilities. For more than a decade, Jeremy and his team have partnered with organizational staffing and HR leaders to create strategies and tactics to make their recruiting, staffing, and talent acquisition processes, systems, and organizations more effective to achieve business results.
Prior to founding Riviera Advisors in 2001, Jeremy spent almost 20 years leading talent acquisition and staffing teams at Universal Studios, Amazon.com, and Idealab. Jeremy is a proud professional member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Institute of Management Consultants-USA, and serves as the Vice President, National Membership for the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment (IACPR). Jeremy served two terms on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Staffing management special expertise panel and on the Workforce Planning Standards Workgroup.
A highly-sought-out speaker on the value of the corporate staffing function, Jeremy speaks to many audiences at conference, seminars, and organizational meetings. Jeremy is the author of the book, “RecruitCONSULT! Leadership – The Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader’s Field Book”, published by STARoundtable Press in 2011. Jeremy is based in Long Beach, California.
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