This week, we once again continue our analysis of the case I presented a few weeks ago about a recruiting director named Ross and the challenges he faces as he grows the recruiting function in a medium-sized, fast-growing organization. Today I will focus on what a “new” or modern recruiting function should look like and what roles recruiters play. Many readers gave their opinions on these questions, and I have included them along with my own commentary. The primary response was simple and powerful: Recruiters need to be business-oriented and deeply understand the business. One reader wrote, “Become the recruiting business partner who has a seat at the table. To maximize effectiveness, recruiting needs vision, knowledge, and an ear so that plans can be implemented by recruiting staff.” Another wrote, “I would add to Ross’s ‘new’ recruiting approach a specific effort on the part of the recruiting staff to really get to know the internal hiring management community and the corporate business plan. By doing this they can deliver the correct resources sooner.” More and more recruiters are becoming talent managers and advisors. They are being asked for talent supply information and for data about turnover, possibility of internal placements for key jobs, what the best geography is to find talent, and so forth. This requires a recruiter with a much different background and set of competencies than ten years ago. The abilities to conduct interviews and be administratively efficient are less important than market and supply chain knowledge. Recruiters with broad market knowledge, large personal networks, the ability to build talent pools, and the ability to educate and persuade managers and candidates are the ones who will remain employed and successful for the next decade. Several readers felt that the recruiting function could be split into two parts: one to do the usual recruiting activities of screening, interviewing, dealing with hiring managers, scheduling and so forth ó and another part to focus on sourcing. As one reader told me:
The traditional recruitment model should be broken down into two distinct roles: recruiters and sourcers. Recruiters are the key business partners and leaders. They absolutely embody and represent the company culture. They are responsible for driving workforce planning, requisition management, interviews, offers, business partnering with key stakeholders, internal transfers, and referrals. Sourcers are also key business partners and leaders. They too represent and market the company culture. But they are volume focused, providing real-time market analysis expertise during workforce planning sessions. They are both identification experts (using the Internet, networking, cold-calling, name generation) as well as industry experts.
While I see organizations being enticed into establishing this organizational model, I am not convinced that it is the best one. It may prove useful as a transitional model while an organization re-educates or replaces its current traditional recruiters with more appropriately skilled new ones. But this structure has several flaws:
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- To be successful, it requires a tremendous amount of communication and coordination between the two types of recruiters. It is very easy for the sourcers to become disconnected from the actual needs of hiring managers. It forces a need for constant communication and networking that may be difficult to maintain in an organization that is hiring many people and where time for such communication is limited.
- This model can create confusion, as hiring managers do not know which person to go to. I often hear hiring managers who are frustrated because they are asked similar questions by different people and have multiple demands made on their limited time.
- This model can lead to recruiters who do not have the ability to source well or sourcers who do not know how to deal with hiring managers and internal employees. By specializing, recruiters do not develop the broad skills that will keep them and their organization the most successful. I suspect that really competent recruiters will seek employment in firms that do not use this model.
- It increases the number of people in the recruiting function at a time when workloads are rising faster than resources.
- There is no evidence that this model is better. Shuffling people into categories and specializing people was a common manufacturing practice, which led to unhappy and bored people who lacked variety in their work. While it may be true that these jobs are not that specialized, there is a danger that they will be. Manufacturing has now decided that workers with broad skills and a variety of challenges are more productive and effective.
While there are ways to work around many of the issues I raise, the workarounds also take time and energy to create and maintain, with little payback. I suggest that the new recruiting function should be one where the focus is on developing recruiters who understand business and economic trends, who are deeply aware of the organization’s strategy and people needs both today and in the near future, who are capable of complex communication with hiring managers and candidates, and who delight in sourcing and communicating with candidates. Screening and assessment can be left mostly to a combination of tests and hiring manager interviews, while administrative tasks such as scheduling and generating correspondence can be left to technology.