4 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Leadership

Leaders are not created magically, but emerge over time from a continuous process of being challenged, meeting the challenge, reflecting on what was learned, and applying it to the next challenge. The past few years have been challenging for the recruiting profession, that’s for sure. And most of us have done a lot of reflecting on our circumstances and the future. Being fully prepared for the next wave of the talent wars is going to require even greater leadership skill and organizational expertise. As a recruiting leader, you will face situations that are new and that will stretch your skills. You will face situations where there are no simple answers. What can we learn from how the leaders of the past have reacted? What are “best practices” for a leader? It turns out that great leaders are not only good at getting work done, but also at the way they get that work done. When a leader is acknowledged as “good” or even “great,” there are always some things that distinguish them from the pack. 1. Great leaders take risks. Whether they know it or not, great leaders do things others haven’t done:

  • Jack Welch took an incredibly successful General Electric through one of the most complete transformations in American corporate history. He abolished formal strategic planning in favor of continuously adapting strategy to circumstances. He challenged the internal bureaucracy and invented new forms of management development. He took risks that could have put GE under, and would certainly have cost him his job if they had failed.
  • Abraham Lincoln entered a Civil War at great risk to our nation and to himself. Churchill stood up ó almost alone ó to Hitler in a Europe ready to surrender.
  • Hank Stringer, founder of Hire.com, pioneered the candidate relationship management tools and the creation of dynamic talent pools that we are just now beginning to see value in.

Recruiting is ripe for change. We’ve been doing things pretty much the same for 50 years. We need leadership that is taking risks and trying out new approaches. 2. Great leaders adopt new technologies and processes. Another characteristic of great leaders is their ability to embrace technology or processes that give them a competitive edge. They are early to see the advantages in the new:

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  • Michael McNeil, when he was at Cisco, changed how we market for candidates by using the Internet heavily, using market research to figure out how to reach the candidates he most wanted to attract, and adopting competitive intelligence techniques to source highly skilled talent.
  • Behavior Description Technologies, headed by guru Tom Janz, developed the first online behavioral interviews for Chili’s Restaurants. And Unicru has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence for screening candidates.
  • Others technology leaders in our industry include Mike Mayeux of Novotus and John Younger of Accolo. The Internet, new assessment technologies, and faster and more flexible recruiting processes are hallmarks of leadership in the recruiting arena.

Some leading recruiters are experimenting right now with social network software from vendors like Spoke and LinkedIn that I mentioned in a column a few weeks ago. 3. Great leaders build teams. Good leaders also build strong teams. They often hire people as smart or smarter than themselves. They pose what seem like unrealistic goals, and challenge their teams to exceed those goals. The people in these teams frequently have widely varied but complementary skills. A great recruiting team, at one organization, is made up of a few Internet and IT technologists, a systems and process expert, a statistician and a handful of recruiters who leverage technology and outsource a large percentage of hiring to trusted partners. 4. Great leaders create networks and stay attached to the external world. Good recruiting leaders are well connected to the outside world. Effective leaders may have hundreds of contacts in a variety of occupations and organizations. They stay in contact by email, telephone, and with face-to-face chats on a frequent basis. Ineffective managers think that by staying in the office and working hard they demonstrate leadership. On the contrary, those who spread out and keep in-tune and in-touch are more likely to see emerging trends and change the direction of their ship when necessary. Rick Kisiel of Corning demonstrated this when, at the start of the recession, he turned his recruiting team into an outplacement team. They immediately started working to find jobs for the hundreds of employees who needed new opportunities. They were incredibly successful in placing these people because they moved fast and used technology. He now heads up Corning’s recruiting activities in China. Recruiting has never needed leadership more than it does today. The opportunities are there for you to take.

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 ERE.net, 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 kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


1 Comment on “4 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Leadership

  1. In your article, you mention John Younger of Accolo. I’m sure you know, but I don’t think the word has gotten out about Accolo. What they are doing is truly unique, and more importantly – it works. I’d like to hear more about John and Accolo in a future article, I think all the readers would benefit from it.

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