4 Strategies to Address the Coming War for Talent

Before we experienced the 2008 economic disaster, the phrase “war for talent” seemed to be overused by every corporate and agency recruiter I came in contact with. It seemed to go away until the first or second quarter of 2011 and now seems to be back on every executive and recruiter’s mind. Recruiters across the country have shared with me the excitement they have about recruiting again — about building talent pipelines, implementing social media, bolstering up their LinkedIn connections, and creating new and compelling candidate value propositions.

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 new-fangled 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:

  1. What is your organization’s candidate value proposition? Does everyone involved in the recruiting process understand these points? How is this information communicated to candidates?
  2. Are you really using your social networks/connections? Are you continuously broadcasting your open positions to your networks? Are you growing your LinkedIn connections?
  3. Are you building talent pipelines? How do you create a talent pipeline? How do you communicate to and track those in your pipeline?
  4. Are you interviewing consistently and effectively? What questions is the recruiter asking? What questions is the recruiting committee asking?

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 focus areas.

Let’s go through the four questions I asked earlier.

What Is Your Organization’s Candidate Value Proposition?

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.

Are You Really Using Your Social Networks/Connections?

It seems that in recent years the badge of honor that recruiters wear proudly on their chests is the number of first-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 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 seven people, while only telling one or two 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?

  • Use your current employee population at all levels to create a balanced social media picture of your organization. People love to use Facebook, Twitter, and the like to convey their dissatisfaction with their previous or current employer. Encourage employees at all levels to post honest, positive, and encouraging information regarding their experience. An employee praising their internal mentor; an executive thanking an employee for their contribution; the CEO openly tweeting the success of their organization and thanking all team members.
  • Encourage staff to join and contribute to user groups on sites such as LinkedIn and others. Get your team involved with others in their specific function or discipline. Relationships can be made with future candidates while at the same time placing your company name front and center in each group.

Primary focus on taking without willing to give back

We have all seen this happen. Recruiter A joins LinkedIn, connects with as many people in a given industry user group, has six to nine 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 who 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. Join user groups where you actually have something to contribute in the form of information, statistics, trends, etc. This could include hiring statistics for a specific related position, or compensation trends based on recent recruitment data. Be seen as a valued member of the group who is not just sucking information from the group.

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 No. 1 cause for failed recruitment initiatives. Social media increases the issue since it seems to favor 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. 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.”

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In simple terms, there are basically two ways to approach a consumer or candidate when approaching them regarding a potential opportunity:

  • Selling what we have
  • Selling what the buyer needs

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:

  1. Fill the need (Pitch the value proposition — “Great Opportunity”)
  2. Ask pre-closing questions (Does the proposition fill the need?)
  3. Close the sale

Effective recruiting looks like this:

  1. Build a relationship — It’s tough to find out what motivates or demotivates someone if we don’t have some type of common ground.
  2. Identify the need — what does the potential candidate like about their current role/organization and what could be improved? (This is how to create a real value proposition)
  3. Overcome objections — If the candidate is happy and we just pitch a canned story about our great opportunity, how to we uncover their real motivation?
  4. Fill the need — now it’s time to deliver a tailored value proposition based on specific candidate desires.
  5. Advance the sale — if done correctly, your value proposition sets up the candidate in a way where it becomes very difficult to say no.

Are You Building Talent Pipelines?

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 who 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:

  • With the demand on recruiters to fill open positions, do they really have the time necessary to initiate, cultivate, and maintain these types of relationships?
  • What is the shelf life of a pipeline candidate? If the recruiter has successfully performed their job in developing a relationship and understanding the motivation of a candidate, they have also helped educate the candidate that better opportunities exist. At some point those developed as pipeline candidates will make the shift from somewhat passive to active and will proactively seek opportunities, quickly adding an expiration date to their shelf life.

Don’t misunderstand my point here. I’m in favor 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.”  Pipelining can include all of the activities referenced above: social media, user groups, etc.

Always initiating, developing, and maintaining relationships with those who 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.

Are You Interviewing Consistently and Effectively?

Whether a recruiting executive or hiring executive, have you ever interviewed a candidate who 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 mis-hires.

Interviewing inconsistencies generally stem from one or more of following areas:

Not understanding the required skills/competencies of the position. After conducting hundreds of post interview briefings, it is painfully obvious that many recruiters, hiring managers, and interview committee members are not looking for the same skills in each candidate. The recruiter can be looking for skills A, B, and C while the hiring manager is looking for skills D, E, and F and so on. Much of the disconnect actually finds its roots in the position-intake session between the hiring committee and the recruiter — if the meeting ever happened! The goal of the intake meeting is to:

  • Define the short term and long term objectives of the role.
  • Define realistic skill requirements of the candidate — ranked in order of preference.
  • Define the realistic preferred skill requirements of the candidate — ranked in order of preference.
  • Define the realistic competency requirements of the candidates — ranked in order of preference.
  • Define the realistic preferred competency requirement of the candidates — ranked in order of preference.

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 against (More on this one to follow)?

Improper candidate comparisons. Comparing candidates to each other is a recipe for failure, unless the candidates are compared to the agreed-upon skills and competencies first. The natural tendency of interview committee members is to only compare candidates against each other and not the actual agreed upon candidate requirements — a mistake that often leads to choosing the “best of the group,” and not the “best of the best.” Example: Let’s say that you interview three 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.

Interview committee interviewing for different criteria. This is much different than not understanding the requirements or improper candidate comparison. Although the interview committee may understand the position requirements, there is not formalized comparison and discussion of their opinion of each required criteria. A best practice is to have each interviewer rate each candidate on each individual skill and competency required — such as 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 two points apart (one indicated a 1 rating while the other indicated a 3 rating on the same individual competency or skill) it becomes obvious that 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!

With nearly two decades of experience in the recruitment industry, Steve Lowisz is a highly regarded trainer and speaker on all things talent. A leader of sourcing and staffing engagements for companies throughout the world, he has a unique perspective of the industry, its challenges, and its present and future opportunities. His passion is to educate and equip recruitment professionals and hiring executives with the tools and techniques required to create e?ective recruitment functions and processes. His unique and sometimes unconventional delivery style is engaging, challenging, and thought-provoking for recruiters new to the industry, all the way up to the seasoned CEO seeking the best talent. He is also the force behind the Recruitment Education Institute and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Recruit or Get Out of the Way.”


32 Comments on “4 Strategies to Address the Coming War for Talent

  1. Sometimes you read something that through its content, its context and through ringing true in every possible sense just makes it a joy to read.
    This one such piece to go into the vaults of wisdom and best practice along many of the other fine blog posters on ERE.
    Loved every word of it, – thank you.

  2. Stephen, I wish I had as much space to comment on your article!

    I would love to be able to train new recruiters on the points you make above, before they become like me, battle-scarred and cynical! I think at the very least a background in social media usage and pipelining is extremely important but another point that becomes obvious is you don’t have any experienced recruiters who can mentor newer ones because they simply don’t have the skills themselves.

    You make some good points but the things you suggest would happen in a perfect world where the recruiter wasn’t under a time crunch to get the job filled. Many of the things you suggest take a lot of time that recruiters simply don’t have. From that standpoint, they are unrealistic and the ‘war for talent’ is only going to increase.

    Your article makes for good reading but implementation of your suggestions simply isn’t practical.

  3. @ Paul: Well said.

    @ Stephen:
    The so-called “War for Talent” is an ongoing salesy/markety hype designed to appeal to desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices and beliefs. It’s snake oil for convincing these folks that by just doing whatever is told (or more likely, sold), they’ll be able to get the very best people to come and work for their wannabe/also-ran/not-special companies for far less money, benies, stock, etc. than the people can get elsewhere. If you want to hire the best, you’ve got to be the best or have the best. Most of the “warriors for talent” don’t…


  4. @Keith
    Never missing a moment to think and let us know that the world has gone mad and that most people out there in the wrong and all snake oil and hot air.
    Come on Keith when you have people like Dr. John Sullivan, Lou Adler and a range of others like Stephen say what they do, you have to give what is being said some credit and belief. I am sorry to say but I think you are the one that is out of touch in this respect.

  5. Keith: right back at ya!!

    Jacob, are you serious? Keith said the absolute truth and his words are 100% accurate. Why are you hiding behind ‘Dr. John Sullivan, Lou Adler, and a range of others like Stephen’? Their comments and thoughts are generally accurate and certainly good reading but why do we have to bow down to them, as if they carry the most credibility of all?

    Didn’t you notice that Stephen didn’t really say anything new or original? He gave us a reminder of what many great recruiters already know, that we have too many openings and not enough time. While the writing is good and the thoughts important, his four strategies are merely a theoretical expression of what a perfect world would be.

    Keith’s words ring ever truer! It may hurt me to hear them, but I couldn’t agree with him more.

  6. @ Jacob. Who says the world has gone mad? I think most people do the best they can with what they’ve got. I DO think that the typical recruiter, sourcer, scheduler, etc., knows more and better about what would make their work more effective and efficient than all but a very few of the peddlers and their high-level customers do, and that the high-level customers would rather listen to the peddlers and buy their wares than listen to the people actually doing the job and follow their suggestions. Maybe I’m out-of-touch at the 30,000-foot level, but I’m not out of touch on the ground. How do I know this? Because I’ve worked in the “down-in-the-trenches” real world of recruiting for over 20 years. I’ve worked at large, medium, and small companies- some incredibly functional and wonderful to work in and some dysfunctional, political snakepits. I’ve seen how far reality typically varies from what we’re told is the way things are, or how they should be. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work, based on the evidence, not because some well-healed, well-groomed peddler comes up with something that’s worked for them (or maybe just made up) and says its “God’s Truth for All Mankind”. I’ve also seen that many solutions that originate from rich, famous, “employers of choice” wouldn’t work as well (or at all) for us who work for the 99.9% o companies that aren’t…. As far as to what is being said, maybe it’s my Mid-Western relatives or my scientific training that has me say: “Don’t give me your pitch, show me your proof,” and”extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.



  7. @ Paul

    Thank you for the comment and view. Here is the interesting thing that I have seen play out over and over as organization focus on what recruiting was really meant to be,not what it has become. The issue of not enough time seems to be the #1 or #2 complaint of every recruiting organization. Those that have correctly implemented many of these tactics have seen an increase in available time and productivity. Why?

    Here are a couple of reasons:
    * If you really understand the motivation of the candidate the cycle time to close the candidate has proven to be quicker.
    * If you really understand the motivation of the candidate and create the proper relationship, referrals are higher for other open positions with a faster cycle time.
    * If you provide some value to the social community, they will in turn provide greater value to you with referrals, contacts etc. It much easier to receive at that point then to always be looking to reinvent the wheel.
    * Many recruiters spend hour upon hour surfing social media sites with no replies, no real networking, a clear waste of time since they focus on short term results only.

    Comparing candidates to the identified spec and not just to each other should not only be in a perfect – it should be every day in your world and in mine!

  8. @ Keith
    I think you missed the point Keith. The article states:

    “Recruiters across the country have shared with me the excitement they have about recruiting again — about building talent pipelines, implementing social media, bolstering up their LinkedIn connections, and creating new and compelling candidate value propositions.

    Let me start by giving one word of advice: STOP!”

    I agree that snake oil is not the solution. Real recruiting based on real recruiting principles is what makes for an effective strategy in times of economic peril and shortages of talent. If we look at the 20-60-20 rule, only 20% of the total candidate population are the top players and the war is always going on for them.

    The point here is that the recruiter has the greatest impact to the success or failure of any recruiting organization – its been studied and reported on by the Corporate Executive Board. Bite the head off the snake and get back to the basics that make successful recruiters.

  9. @ Paul

    You are correct that the steps in the article are not new – that is the point! As recruiters we often look for the easier way out. The fact is that without the basics being implemented consistently, nothing else matters. We blow off the basics as antiquated methods that create no value – Really? Lets ask the executive teams and see what they expect.

  10. @ Keith

    I too have been, and am still in the trenches – recruiting daily for companies large and small, desirable and unknown, high paying and low paying, etc. I also see recruiters at some of these small, unknown, resource lacking companies run circles around recruiters that have plenty of resources, tools,and well know names. This is not to say I don’t see stellar recruiters at these big, well known, throw a BMW at you if you sign today companies. The difference is that the stellar recruiters know that they are in the people business and the business is based on understanding your customer and candidate.

  11. @Keith
    Apologies if saying that you think the world has gone mad, – as you know Keith you and I have several parallel ERE discussions and I think I may have mixed up one of your other strong opinion comments with this post.

    @Keith, Paul and others
    The reason why I declared my admiration and subscription to what Stephen has written is that although we far from live in an ideal world and surely reality of the daily grind is short of time, lack of understanding (from management), inadequate tools and compromises and other shortfalls galore (I have seen my fair share of these) what we must all try to remember is that there is an ideal and levels we can aspire to.

    In my opinion what Stephen has written quite comprehensively about is an inspirational checklist.

    I shall shortly have the privilege of taking on a role as globally responsible for all matters talent acquisition for a progressive and expansive IT company active in 40 countries worldwide. When I take this position I shall have a mind-set of attempting to do everything the very best I can, utilising all available knowledge thought leadership and best practice. It would be naive of me to think that I can achieve all I set out to do or that I will not meet obstacles and challenges on the way, not to mention compromises, but I will sure make a go of getting as much as in my power right.

    Great entrepreneurs are signified by setting themselves sky-high almost un-obtainable goals and then relentlessly working towards them (example Steve Jobs)

    As with all great things and leaders without that shining lighthouse or recipe as I to some degree see what Stephen has written to be, if we can all get to a point where we slowly but steadily get first 30%, then 40% and gradually more and more of this and other thought leadership right, then we are on the right path and able to achieve great things.

    Paul you mention bowing down to the likes of Dr. John Sullivan and Lou Adler etc. If you make a closer examination you will learn that that these gents are in fact pretty down to earth individuals who have been at the grindstone or at least have a very strong understanding of what happens on a daily basis.
    We need to have someone who can climb on-board the helicopter and provide well written well thought through ideas and perspectives, and I think their voices carry big weight, it is relevant, it is often based on evidence and it carries clarity and perspective.

    Indeed there may be not be that much new under the sun and if you look at management theory within HR, much of what is being practised today was first spoken about 20 years ago!!

    However as with many things repetition appear to be necessary when the adoption is so slow.

    The subject of candidate experience is one of the most discussed and debated subjects across the world. Never have we in the last 25 years had more tools and options available to get this right, – yet never has it overall been as bad as it is now! Examples are plenty worldwide of man not learning much from the past or to ensure better practices (wars/conflict or business conduct) why we have to apply a structure of repetition.

  12. Jacob, my thoughts about Sullivan, Adler, etc. is not directed at them personally. It is directed at those who think that what they is the final word on recruiting and that is simply not so.

    I see the same things over and over again on this board. Maybe I am cynical or think I have seen it all/heard it all (which, deep down, I know I haven’t) but I just don’t put the same importance on most of what I read here as it is always the same. For example, Lou Adler wrote a critical opinion on the recent ERE Expo, saying exactly what I have been saying for a long time: It is more of the same and needs freshening. However, Mr. Adler then posts a piece on how to get 3-4 qualified candidates in 72 hours using Linkedin! Yeah, so? A fresh idea? Not to me. Where is the originality in that? We all know how to do that! It is more of the same and needs freshening! I expect more from someone as respected as Lou Adler is and who has been a vocal critic and champion of recruiters and our profession for so long. Again, nothing at all personal against Lou Adler! My point is that I see the next generation of recruiting thought leaders on this board saying what we already know and naive recruiters thinking and saying that it is eloquent and inspirational.

    With all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, it’s not.

  13. While Stephen comment is the same old drudgery,it has merit. The old relationship pipeline recruiters were unable to adapt,to a changing world and mainly died off. The few that survived struggled. I have a 61 year old guy on my staff I iWork with every week to grasp this world not the world per 2000. .he is a good solid fundamentalist,what Stephen talks about. That is not enough to survive and thrive. In the downturn he was discarded . We picked him up, took a gamble, I liked his fundamentals ,his hunger and felt his desire to succeed would overcome his fear of change. He struggles with the pace of 350 reqs a month. He struggles with the pipelining time restrictions and recognizing the talent levels,who to cultivate who to make a “Facebook” or distance relationships.Keith’s point is Valid in that it is not about returning to basics but about the new paradigm of teaching what was almost lost (relationships) and melding it with the new reality of filling many reqs a month AND pipelining/relationship building. It is easy to teach them to pipeline or build a relationship with a few hundred,but how do u teach them to to build, and maintain the relationship with a few thousand, so u can find the candidates u really want, the ones not on boards, in databases or social networks, the one who has jobs find him instead of him finding a job? That is my challenge and the article I want to read.

  14. @Chris
    Old drudgery has its place as long as valid and of quality!

    That said true and in agreement that neither what Stephen written nor what is coming from Lou Adler or others that much different or with revolutionary revelations.
    As for the big changes with arrival of social media, they are merely another communication platform and channel, why it may be pronounced as something overly fantastic, but is merely an evolution as to medium of communication. Change and evolution has always mostly been incremental and even the highly lauded Apple managed their success from putting existing components smartly together neatly packaged and then happened to hit a market ready for it. Huge credit to them, but hardly big bang theory or something that came as bolt out of the blue. Same for many other things around us, only really small changes or re-packaging and marketing (Starbucks coffee!!) So on that basis we can seek and hope for big changes and have high expectations of thought leaders, but will only get small twists and tweaks on already known subjects. As for the need of change, I am not so sure that is required, we just need to get the fundamentals right, to do them really really well and take things from there. With still so much to be done and often only level of average achieved we need to regurgitate what we know and get that enhanced.
    As for Keith’s point, about the new paradigm, I totally agree, that is where we have a challenge.
    As for 350 reqs/month, – I think anyone with a life outside work would not only choke but die doing that.

    For those that are constantly pushing the boundaries and exploring I personally think Jim Stroud has a lot to offer, but additionally the UK guys of Bill Boorman http://recruitingunblog.wordpress.com/,
    Andy Headworth http://www.sironaconsulting.com/
    and Matt Allder http://recruitingfuture.com/mattalder are people that I see as those with insight and ideas.

  15. Chris – your comment about melding the basics with new New reality of open reqs is accurate. My only comment is that volume has always been a challenge and the one key thing that turns us from relationship builders to counting transactions.

    The ability to develop relationships will always be the key to successful recruiting. The way in which we develop those relationships continues to evolve with social media and other tools.

  16. Paul – much of the info Lou and Sullivan write about are great reminders of what typical recruiters forget to do. Although this information may not be useful to you, it can be very usefull to that next generation of recruiters that are trained on Twitter and other technologies but receive no training on the basics. without these pros teaching the basics the next generation of recruiters is destined to fail.

    If you are looking for advanced, cutting edge tools and strategies, start such a discussion and let’s solicit the masses for input.

  17. Paul – thats great to hear! We both know there are superstar recruiters who get it all. We also both know the basics are what we build on. Same premise as world class golfers who go back to their swing coach each year to get rid or bad habits they picked up on tour and focus on what made them great. They invest heavily in new technologies in clubs and balls, but know that technology won’t solve their problems if the basics aren’t down pat.

    Happy hunting my friend!!!

  18. And you as well!

    Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin! Any and all are welcome to do so.

    I look forward to the ERE Expo in September. First round’s on me and we can debate to our hearts content.

  19. Whoa, looks like my interviews kept me away from some good stuff here…

    @ Stephen I: Companies and people are always looking for the best they can get. That’s not a “war”: that’s an existential condition. (I guess “existential conditions” don’t sell to many tools, consulting services, webinars, etc…) As was said re: the War on Drugs: “Why don’t we just declare “victory” and go home?
    I agree that recruiters can and should make major impacts on corporate outcomes. However ISTM (and that of a number of my fellow colleagues) that there is less and less a call for those senior recruiters able and willing to provide the tough strategic advice and more of a desire for young and enthusiastic (and
    cheaper ) folks involved in more transactional recruiting; aka “putting their minds on hold and doing what they’re told). (Of course, it may have ALWAYS been like this and my colleagues and I are just getting older…)

    @ Stephen II: Re: the basics- I agree. let’s come up with Generally Accepted Recruiting Practices (GARPs) based on what really does and doesn’t work. I think the definition of a Standard Cost of Hire is a good first step.

    @ Stephen III: “People business”? You talk to someone in the course of the day to find out something, you’re in the people business. We’re virtually ALL in the people business….As far as stellar folks at small companies; those ‘re EXACTLY the folks I (and I’d think a few others) would like to hear from. I’m tired of hearing form somebody from a rich famous, employer of choice telling us how wonderful their recruiting program is and how we should all copy it. I want to hear from somebody at a company say something like: “We’re a no name manufacture of toilet paper dispensers located in the Midwest. When we started out, we had a micromanaging, tightwad CEO, clueless and stubborn hiring managers, and HR & Staffing Heads who had our backs” to stick knives into. However over 18 months we were able to reduce COH 35%, reduce Time-to-Fill 50%, improve Quality-of-Hire (as defined below) by 40%… Here’s what we did and here are the things you might be able to do, too.”

    @ Jacob: No worries, Jacob… First I’d like to congratulate you on your new role. If I may suggest ”Over-Goals” for your department (these are what constitutes an ideal working environment for me, and I’d think a fair number of other recruiters):
    1) Provide the recruiters, sourcers, etc. the resources they need to do their jobs effectively- ask them (and not your superiors in the hierarchy) what they need. (Make them provide justification if cost is an issue, but get them their resources.)
    2)Work to make sure there is clear communication and cooperation between your people and the hiring managers. Don’t be a neutral arbitrator- they’re your people and you need to support THEM.
    3) Tell them to recruit (putting high-quality butts in chairs on time and within budget EVERYTIME) and don’t sweat the small stuff- administrivia, too many metrics, too many/long meetings, etc.

    A gradual goal for recruiting heads should be to no-source (eliminate). through-source (automate) or out-source the transactional, low-value add (boring) activities:- the vast majority of sourcing, initial candidate development, scheduling coordinating, candidate care, etc. and have your FT onsite staff concentrate on the strategic, high-value add (interesting) activities- advising and mentoring hiring managers, streamlining improving hiring processes, closing.

    As far as high-level expertise is concerned: we definitely need it, but in small, carefully-measured amounts after/while the discussions with the people who actually do the work. Furthermore, the expertise needs to be based on objective, value- neutral evidence, not just anecdotes or personal observation unless clearly stated as such- opinions should not be presented as facts.

    “Great entrepreneurs are signified by setting themselves sky-high almost un-obtainable goals and then relentlessly working towards them (example Steve Jobs)”.
    1) I don’t know if you have a substantial side business Jacob, but I’m not a (and again probably most of us here aren’t) “great entrepreneur”.
    2) Great entrepreneurs (example Steve Jobs) can be incredibly unpleasant jerks to work with.
    3) The sky-high goals these great entrepreneurs can sometimes be questionable:
    “Apple employees- create the perfect ideal product exactly as I wish it.”
    “Apple customers- Buy the perfect ideal product exactly as I wish it. How dare you wish to modify or adapt perfection?”
    (I’m writing this on a Mac. –kh)
    Instead of “almost unobtainable goals”: how about diligently working to increasing recruiting efficiency and effectiveness through minimizing the unpleasant work the recruiting staff has to do?

    “Candidate experience”: $3.00/hr Virtual Candidate Care Reps will largely solve that problem. NEXT!

    @ Everybody: When I see someone fill their writings with well-worn clichés and inspirational sayings, I feel as if they really don’t have much of importance to say. When I hear someone call themselves a “visionary” or a “thought-leader”, I tend to think the person is arrogant and could use a good, strong dose of humility- it really tends to diminish the value of whatever else they’re saying.

    @ Paul: Remember “A Few Good Men”?
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I want the truth!
    Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

    Well, the truth (as I see that they can’t handle) is: We like things the way they are-
    Recruiting-snake oil peddlers:
    As long as there are lots of desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors willing to shell out “the ready” for the latest and greatest solution to over-hyped or non-existent problems, we’ll make lots of money.

    Desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors:
    As long as we get caught pretending to improve things! Our bosses will like that!
    It’s not if we were trying to stir things up by attacking the REAL problems here…

    Agencies that hire lots of low-paid newbies who recruit people off major boards for $15-20% fees:
    As long as the customers don’t know that they can get as good-better results for $6.25/hr., we’ll do fine.

    @ Chris: Thank you.
    MAJOR POINT HERE (It’s my opinion, but pay attention, Folks): You shouldn’t go into recruiting (or plan to stay in it long- term) in North America if you can’t learn to do work that’s worth at least $50/hr. That’s a BIG CHANGE, and hardly anyone is discussing/debating/planning for it.

    @ Jacob II: Thank you.

    @ Stephen IV: If by “relationship” you mean exchanging emotional information at a depth greater than required to approximately determine personality type, reliability, etc. as relevant to the job- I avoid that whenever possible, and I like to think of myself as a successful recruiter after recruiting for over 20 years…

    @ Stephen V: “great reminders of what typical recruiters forget to do” – A good checklist will help with this. Does anyone want/need one? I can send it to you.

    “…cutting edge tools and strategies, start such a discussion and let’s solicit the masses for input.” Most of these are related to sourcing, which I frequently say should be outsourced to the $6.25/hr or $40 plus/name folks. I want to see topics like:
    “How to Learn $50/hr, High, Touch, High Value Add Recruiting Skills- How to Get More Money, More Benefits, and More Fun in Your Recruiting Job” or
    “I Know More than These Young Twerps- Dealing with Age Discrimination in the Startup Culture” or
    “Winning at Office Politics in the 21st Century-How to Advance Your Corporate Recruiting Career Without Losing Your Humanity in the Process”

    @ Stephen VI: “..technology won’t solve their problems if the basics aren’t down pat.”
    *What ARE the “basics” of recruiting? Are they the same in all corporate, contract, contingency, or retained environments? How do the high-value add skills vs. the low-value add skills come into play? What are “2012 basics” and what are “basics for the ages”? Seems like it may be a more involved discussion than just saying people need to get “down” or “back” to ‘em”….


    Keith “Visionless, Thought-Follower” Halperin

    * ISTM that we’ll be more able to answer this if/when we come up with the Generally Accepted Recruiting Practices (GARPS). Who’d like to help me come up with these?

  20. @Keith

    I – “Companies and people are always looking for the best they can get.” This is only partially true. Some are willing to look and work much harder than others to find the best. Many settle for what is in front of them because they don’t know how or have no motivation to engage the best.

    II – GARP’s are a great idea. Cost per hire standards were approved by ANSI earlier this year. This may help you: http://www.shrm.org/HRStandards/PublishedStandards/Documents/11-0096%20HR%20Standards%20Booklet_WEB_revised.pdf.

    III – Great idea for a future post. I have multiple examples of small, unknown, Midwestern companies that were able to increase Quality of Hire and become cost efficient by applying these and other basic principles. By the way, cost per hire and time to fill mean little if the quality stinks. More to follow on quality of hire as well.

    IV – By relationship I mean finding a basic connection that allows me to develop a candidate or return for referrals and recommendations at a future date. I have followed this for 20 years and consider myself successful as well.

    V – “Most of these are related to sourcing, which I frequently say should be outsourced to the $6.25/hr or $40 plus/name folks.” It seems that you are truly missing the value of accurate sourcing.

    I want to see topics like:
    “How to Learn $50/hr, High, Touch, High Value Add Recruiting Skills- How to Get More Money, More Benefits, and More Fun in Your Recruiting Job” – these sound like great topics for your next article…..

    VI – Many of the basics are the same for all recruiters – agency, corporate, retained, contract, etc. Some of which I mention in the original articles. There are obvious differences as well. There are key basic competencies and abilities for any functional position with variances based on a host of items that are not limited to company, geography, corporate structure, compensation, etc. I agree – its a much longer conversation.

    @ All

    With the knowledge base everyone has, just imagine if we all contributed to the better of the industry and not the opposite – food for thought I would think!

  21. @ Keith
    Keith no one can ever say that what you write is not of relevance or of interest, and despite perhaps not in full agreement, there is always something to learn and take home, – respect.
    This conversation has been a good read, eye-opening debate and shown the passion for the subjects and what we do, and I thank you all for comments made, – would be grand if we could all meet up at an event and over a beverage exchange and laugh about the world of talent acquisition/recruitment.
    As it’s Friday I thought my departing note should be on a lighter note why here three video clips
    1. Without TED I would not know half of what I do, -does this man and what he says hold the key/solution to many questions, – I think so.
    2. Two examples of extremes at each end of the scale and to answer your plea for something really down to earth Keith that shows that it does not necessarily take all bells and whistles to get a message through and create interest.
    I for one know which one of the two I prefer, although you have to admire the ideas and execution in video no one. As for video no two I think it is genius in all its simplicity and I can only regret not having this facility (shaver purchase option) available here in the UK

    Thank you and all the best to you

  22. @ Stephen: Thank you.

    I. I’ll modify my statement- “Companies and people are always looking for the best they can get. They may or may not try really hard to get it.

    II. GARPs- Thank you. I’d enjoy working with anyone who’d seriously like to create these.

    III. Unsung recruiting heroes from no-name companies- I’d really like to begin talking with these people right now, if you’d like to introduce me to one or more of them. They could teach me a great deal…

    IV. Relationship- “a basic connection that allows me to develop a candidate or return for referrals and recommendations at a future date.” Very sensible, and something the $3.00/hr Virtual Candidate Care Rep can help with.

    V. “It seems that you are truly missing the value of accurate sourcing.” Accurate sourcing is VITAL- I quite often do sourcing. However, my point is that the vast majority of potential candidates are very easy to find by the $6.25/hr folks, and those that aren’t can best be found by the Irinas and Maureens- good/great people are increasingly easy to find (source), but often increasingly hard to GET (speak to, recruit).

    VI. Basics- makes sense.

    “With the knowledge base everyone has, just imagine if we all contributed to the better of the industry and not the opposite – food for thought I would think!”

    We are not a unified industry and have varying interests, as shown by the numerous (and largely immaterial IMHO) discussions re: the merits/demerits of corporate recruiters vs. 3PRs Consequently, it is not a win/win scenario for all. It is my strongest belief that the “winners” should include customers along with recruiters, sourcers, etc. who provide high value and are willing to adapt to changing conditions, and that the “losers” should be those who rely (and plan to continue relying) on the GAFI (Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence) of the customer to make their money. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people and firms in that latter category, and they won’t give up easily- I wouldn’t if I were in their positions…

    @ Jacob: Thank you. You are also kind with your praise.

    Happy Friday,

    My Recruitaz!

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