A Look Back at 2004 from a CEO’s Perspective

Last year, I wrote an article from a futuristic perspective ó January, 2005, to be exact. The CEO of some mythical company was looking back at 2004 and thanking the recruiting team in a letter for doing a remarkable job. The point of the letter was to demonstrate what the recruiting team had to accomplish during 2004. The point of this article is to allow you to gauge your progress in implementing better hiring and recruiting processes. Following is a summary of the letter.

To: The Recruiting Department

From: The CEO

Date: 1/1/2005 I am immensely proud of the work done in 2004 by each and every member of our company’s recruiting department. It has been one outstanding year, and you all are due enormous praise for doing a remarkable job this past year. And what a year it has been! As we begin our planning for 2005, let’s take a moment and review what you accomplished in 2004. I probably haven’t covered everything, but here is what I’ve observed that’s different between January 1, 2005, and January 1, 2004. 2004 Recruiting Department Accomplishments

  • Filling all critical positions in half the time, at less cost, with better people.
  • Hiring managers now routinely ask recruiters for advice before opening new requisitions.
  • The pool of quality candidates has grown remarkably. We’re now hiring more top candidates for every position than ever before. This is even more remarkable given the enormous growth in the economy.
  • You finally got your tracking system to perform as promised. I don’t exactly know what you did, but it now seems the complaints are down, critical positions are filled ahead of time, and each recruiter seems far more productive.
  • The management team can now count on having enough good people to choose from for every position. You have finally made hiring top people a business process. This has given our company the opportunity to expand into new areas and take on new challenges with far less risk.
  • Overall company performance is at record highs in most areas, and momentum is building. Hiring top people has had an enormous impact on every aspect of our company’s performance.

Every member of the senior executive staff wants to thank every person in the recruiting department for a job well done in 2004. We couldn’t have had such enormous success as a company without you. I look forward to another outstanding year in 2005. Thank you for being a core part of our team. Thank you for helping us build an even better team. Recruiting is now one of our company’s strategic assets and core competencies. Thank you for making hiring top people a systematic business process. Congratulations on a job well done! Your CEO

How many of you received a letter like this? The original article went on to describe a series of tactics recruiting departments should take to ensure they achieved the results described. They’re summarized below. They’re not much different than last year’s. The point of this article is not about the tactics or the letter. It’s about implementing change. My personal vision is that hiring top talent can be a systematic business process. I call this Hiring 2.0. We put on workshops and online recruiter boot camp training to describe what it takes to make it happen. The truth is that none of it really matters. It’s up to each recruiter in each organization to step up to the plate and decide to change things. Getting more resources is one thing that should change. Becoming a better recruiter is another. Here are some of the best ideas from last year’s list, with a few updates. As you review this list, consider how many you’ve started to implement or any other change initiatives you began. This is a good list to use to help guide your thinking. In my opinion, these four factors will have the biggest impact on your company’s ability to hire better people.

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  1. Dramatically improve the quality of sourcing. Shift your resources to source less active and semi-passive candidates. These types of candidates are more qualified as a group. They tend to be more discriminating and won’t use the traditional “find a job and apply” techniques used by most companies. Targeting this market requires the use of more niche boards, better messaging, competitive intelligence, and name-generating software. This takes more time and more highly skilled recruiters. Here’s an article on the semi-sourcing sweet spot you might want to read for more on this topic.
  2. Dumb-down your IT systems to improve overall recruiting performance. A majority of companies are not getting the most from their technology investment. Much can be done to improve the effectiveness of the system you’re now using without changing vendors. As part of this, you’ll improve overall results if you increase user adoption rather than adding new features. The best way to do this is to decrease the complexity of whatever you’re now doing to the absolute minimal level. Then get everyone trained to use this basic feature set. This includes recruiters, managers, other interviewers, and even candidates. Eliminate excuses for candidates not applying or for people not using the system. Once you get to 100% usage, than start improving functionality. This is my One Sigma approach to better recruiting.
  3. Become a partner with your hiring manager clients. Without some level of enforcement, most hiring managers will take shortcuts, make hiring decisions on flawed data, and ignore critical company policies for the sake of expediency. Recruiters can increase their productivity when they understand what it takes to succeed on the job and when they are better interviewers than their clients. This way, they can influence the hiring process on every level. When recruiters are perceived as true partners in the hiring process, rather than as vendors, fewer candidates need to be presented, and the best candidates are selected ? not the ones making the best presentations.
  4. Stop waiting. How much time do you spend waiting? Consider this: Most recruiters wait for requisitions to be opened. Then they wait for candidates to apply. Then they wait for hiring managers to approve the short list of candidates. Then they wait to see when managers can interview the candidates. Then they wait for their evaluations. Then they wait to see if the person is made an offer. Then they wait to see if the offer is accepted. Then they wait to see if the person starts. Then they wait to see if the person worked out. Then they wait for more requisitions to be opened. It’s time to stop waiting. Some simple “stop waiting” things you can do right away include using pre-set interview schedules, requiring that managers see every candidate you recommend, stop taking no for an answer, build pipelines of potential candidates based on a 120-day workforce plan, and lead panel interviews and candidate selection sessions. Stop waiting. Recruiters need to take control of the hiring process.

If you want to get a letter of congratulations from your CEO, a client, or even a candidate, you’ll have to do some things differently this year. This involves better processes, better tools, and more focus on doing things differently, not necessarily doing things faster. Many years ago I heard Jim Rohn say, “Things will begin to get better for you when you begin to get better.” Maybe that’s a good place to start.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


1 Comment on “A Look Back at 2004 from a CEO’s Perspective

  1. Adler articles are generally insightful. The title for this article can be changed to moving from a passive to an active recruitment policy keeping partnering with management in mind. Let’s do it!

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