Let me start by giving one word of advice – STOP!
If you are serious about recruiting the best talent, take this as an opportunity to build a recruiting culture throughout the entire organization – up to and including the CEO. Don’t make the mistake of throwing all of your time and money into newfangled technologies, building talent communities or costly social media campaigns unless you have the basic principles of recruiting drilled into both your recruiting staff and your hiring executives.
Let me ask a few questions:
Most of those reading this can probably provide a detailed answer as to what they are doing in each of these areas. For example, every time I ask the question “Why would someone want to join your organization” I get a very lengthy answer. Whether I ask the CEO or the recruiter, both can rattle off 10-15 bullet points of why any particular candidate should pack up their current offices, quit their jobs, and walk across the street to a new, fantastic, opportunity.
In the same way, everyone talks about growing their social networks, particularly LinkedIn, and the value this brings to their recruiting effectiveness.
On the surface both of these issues seem like great news – but are they really?
As the competition for finding, engaging and attracting the right candidate heats up, every organization needs to reassess their understanding of, and strategy for, implementing each of these key focus areas (In my opinion there are additional key areas that I will address in future articles – these seem to be the 4 most prevalent today).
Although we need to understand the perceived selling points of our opportunities, relying on canned pitches identified by your marketing organization or some third party branding organization does not really provide you with the edge you might think.
The best answer to this question is not that you have “bring your dog to work day”,or that lunch is free each day. The best answer is in fact a question – how many of us ask potential candidates what is important to them before we tell them why they should work for us? Few recruiters or hiring executives can tell me with certainty what the hot buttons are for any candidate they are potentially courting, with the exception of very few superficial issues.
Although it is always important to understand the selling points of the organization we are recruiting for (value proposition), the key differentiator as competition increases is being able to deliver a more compelling value proposition based on information gathered from the potential candidate.
Learning what to ask candidates, when to ask candidates, and how to ask candidates about their motivation is the key to unlocking the door to their minds. Understanding what makes they tick and crafting an appropriate value proposition is much more effective than a mass marketed value proposition.
It seems that in recent years the badge of honor that recruiters wear proudly on their chests is the number of 1st level connections that they have on LinkedIn, the number of friends on Facebook, or the number of followers on twitter that they have. Unfortunately when you look at many of the statistics on source of hire, these same tools still lag behind other more traditional recruitment tools.
Expanding your network for the sake of claiming that you are the most connected is a bit like saying you have the most friends, but when it’s time to move, no one shows up to help, leaving you to fend for yourself. Sheer numbers do not guarantee success as many organizations have discovered since social media hit the scene.
Why does social media based recruitment often fail? Let’s look at a few of the reasons:
Disregarding the branding aspects of social media
In today’s age of technologically savvy consumers and candidates, social media is a key tool often used to uncover more about an organization then often known by its recruiters and hiring managers. It used to be joked that a consumer who had a negative experience with an organization’s service or product would tell 7 people, only telling 1-2 about a positive experience. With social media, one negative hiring experience can now be tweeted to thousands of others in seconds. Other sites like glassdoor.com provide a dedicated medium for potential candidates to learn about the darkest secrets of your hiring process, management staff, and other company related dirt.
So what do you do? Here are a few suggestions:
Primary focus on taking without willing to give back.
We have all seen this happen time after time. Recruiter A joins LinkedIn, connects with as many people in a given industry user group, has 6-9 months of success identifying candidates and then complains that the well has dried up.
Social networks are all about relationships that include give and take. Always being the friend that asks for help but never offers to help others eventually leads to the lone mover syndrome I mentioned above. In a similar way, joining user groups solely as a way of recruiting candidates without providing some benefit to the group is the same way.
Primary focus on building contacts and not relationships.
Quantity over quality of relationships is an ongoing battle in recruiting candidates. Whether a recruiter, hiring manager or company executive, this is often the #1 cause for failed recruitment initiatives. Social media increases the issue since it seems to tout numbers of connections over quality of relationships. The intent of social media was to foster relationships, yet its poor application usually detracts from its success.
Building real relationships that foster an exchange of ideas and a willingness to refer others should be one of the primary goals of tools like LinkedIn. Consider this – qualified candidates are being Inmailed on a daily basis from multiple recruiters and hiring managers regarding the “great opportunities” that they have. How does a potential candidate decide which unsolicited request they will respond to?
Potential candidates have an overwhelming propensity to respond more often to a request that is based on developing a relationship then on selling a “great opportunity."
In simple terms, there are basically two ways to approach a consumer or candidate when approaching them regarding a potential opportunity:
The problem is that most recruiters and hiring managers make assumptions about why candidates should be interested, rarely uncovering the real needs of a candidate. The right value proposition in recruiting must be tailored to the unique needs of each individual, especially when they are being courted by multiple organizations – namely your competitors.
Most recruiting processes look like this:
Effective recruiting looks like this:
First we need to define what an effective talent pipeline is versus the traditional understanding of pipelines. More than 95% of the time I ask the question “What is a talent pipelining I get a similar answer: 'Talent pipelining is having a stable of candidates that are qualified for our positions and open to a call from us when a position becomes available".
Although I don’t necessarily disagree with this statement, there are obvious issues putting this type of philosophy in place:
Please don’t misunderstand my point here – I am a supporter of developing pipelines. In fact my definition of pipelining is: “All activities that result in developing relationships with contacts in a given function, company, or field that can be sustained, and result in future candidate development or referral attainment.” In essence pipelining can include all of the activities referenced above – social media, user groups, etc.
Always initiating, developing, and maintaining relationships with those that you can return to at a later time to assist in a search directly or indirectly is a more consistent and successful strategy when candidate pipelining.
Whether a recruiting executive or hiring executive, have you ever interviewed a candidate that the other had met with only to come up with a completely different view of the same candidate? Why does this occur?
Inconsistency in the interview process is often the main factor in miss-hires. I am not going explain the different interviewing techniques such as Behavioral Based Interviewing (Saving this for a later topic); however I am going to suggest a systematic approach to consistency regardless of the specific technique you employ.
Interviewing inconsistencies generally stem from one or more of following areas:
If the intake meeting does not result in agreed upon candidate requirements, what do the members of the interview committee base their interview questions on? What do they compare the candidate with (More on this one to follow)?
Example: Let’s say that you interview 3 candidates and decide to hire/recruit the best of the three as compared to each other. Six months later the new employee is failing – he/she just does not seem have what it takes to do the job. The employee is unfortunately terminated and a post termination review of the employee is made in comparison to the required skills and competencies. Although the candidate may have been the best of the three, he/she did not meet with the required skills and competencies.
This is a common issue at all levels however it seems to be even more prevalent as senior leadership levels.
A best practice is to have each interviewer rate each candidate on each individual skill and competency required – say a 1 to 5 rating with 1 being the highest. Upon completion of the interview, results from each interviewer are lined up side by side for comparison. In an event that the ratings are more than 2 points apart (one indicated a 1 rating while the other indicated a 3 rating on the same individual competency or skill) it becomes obvious one interviewer saw something the others possibly did not. This difference spurs on discussion and healthy debate if handled appropriately.
If there is only a single interviewer and the recruiter, the same comparison should be done only AFTER each has an opportunity to interview the candidate.
It seems the war for talent is slowly returning to a pre-recession fervor. How we position our brand, engage candidates, and select only the best will determine the success of each and every organization that has employees. Happy Hunting!