A House In Order Is a Splendid Thing

Jane had just completed an exhausting week with her team. They had spent three days locked up in a conference room mapping out their recruiting processes, looking at how they were structured and deciding which technologies they felt were effective and which were not. The team was excited to see some order emerging from what had looked like a real mess a few days before. Now they could see how systems fitted together ó or didn’t fit at all ó and could begin to plan changes and improvements with a big picture in mind. In the scramble to get competitive over the past few years, few recruiting functions had the time to accomplish or even think about what Jane’s team did. Most just accumulated technology and threw together recruiting ideas and processes with little coordination or deep thought. When you’re in the midst of a war for talent it becomes very difficult to approach things in an orderly or careful way. Good ideas are grasped as they arrive, with the thought that someday you will take the time to integrate, evaluate and eliminate. Well, the time has come. One of the good things arising out of the slow economy is the time to look over all that you are doing and make changes that streamline and integrate your recruiting function so that you’re ready when the next battle occurs. Whether or not the next six months will bring us out of this economic slowdown, we do know one thing: the slowdown will end and we will be asked to suddenly start recruiting again. A house in order is not only a splendid thing, it is also efficient and will make this start up ó whenever it comes ó happen smoothly. Here are some things to consider over the next few weeks. Know Your Recruiting Process Well The first step in getting the function organized is to map out your current recruiting processes. Start with the hiring manager’s need to recruit someone and work your way through each step in the process. What does the manager have to do, when, to whom and so on? How does a recruiter get the requisition? When? What is the first thing she does? The second and the third? Go through everything until you end with a new employee on the job. While this is an exhausting process, as Jane found out, it is so worthwhile that I highly recommend it. I help my clients do this and find that at the end they know exactly what needs to get fixed and what can wait. If you have never done this, it would be very wise to attend a seminar on business process improvement or business process mapping, which are frequently offered at local colleges and from many independent seminar firms. There is also a good book on this topic called “Business Process Mapping: Improving Customer Satisfaction,” by J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller. Or get the delightfully simple book by Dianne Galloway, “Mapping Work Processes.” There are many other good books as well, the point being that process mapping is a powerful tool and a way to get your arms around what looks like chaos. Also, if you work in a technology, manufacturing or engineering-type firm, I am sure one of your engineers knows how to do this. Manufacturing managers have used these techniques for years to identify bottlenecks and fix problem on the line. A small, cross-functional team assigned to map the current processes can make good progress quickly. Once the current steps are clearly identified, it is a logical next step to make the process better by eliminating redundancies, integrating steps, or simplifying the administrivia. After this first step, you can look at whether you have the right structure or the right tools, and you can base your decisions on how things really work. Fix (or Create) Your Recruiting Website Make sure your website not only looks good but is also functional at several levels. Almost everyone has a recruiting website ó whether static and text-oriented or interactive and graphically exciting ó but few have sites that really deliver good, pre-screened candidates to the recruiter’s desktop. The goal should be to make the website work well behind the scenes for both the candidate and the recruiter. For the candidate the site should be easy to use, informative, and filled with useful information. It should offer a straightforward path to potential employment. For the recruiter, the site should deliver pre-screened candidates and offer a way to establish ongoing communication and build relationships. This means you need to take the time to evaluate your current site and rate how well it does both of these things. This is part of the process mapping I mention above. But it is also a separate process that may require you to rethink what software you are using, how it might integrate into the site, and at what difficulty and cost. This is the time to build a plan to improve the website and to lay out the time and budget it will take. By setting yourself some targets for improvements and building a project plan, you can make big improvements with better integration than you have had before. Aim To Build Relationships, Not Just Communicate A third way to improve your function is to continue to find ways to build relationships with candidates, not just send them emails once in a while. Relationships happen when there is an exchange of meaningful information and when a level of trust is established. While email is a part of that, providing candidates with feedback on their skills, helping steer them to the right position within the company for those skills, and being honest about opportunities at your company (or the lack thereof) is also essential. Take a look at my article on customer relationship management (CRM) for other ideas on how to build relationships and make your website serve you well. Don’t forget to keep the relationships that already exist with those who have recently left your organization (voluntarily or not) ó the so-called corporate alumni ó and with those who have interviewed for jobs but have not been hired. Even though they may not have been a match this time, they may be the next time. The better they feel about your company, the easier they will be to hire. If you have read carefully, you can see how all these tie together and how all hinge on having a careful look at what you are actually doing today. The time is now for improving your processes and making sure you really know what you are doing and why.

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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 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.

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