Bulls Eye! Focus Your Recruiting on WHO Matters

Xyz Corporation, a software firm, with immediate needs for a variety of web programmers, HTML and Java experts and some platform engineers also has a large need for technical writers, product marketing specialists and customer support staff. They have only released beta versions of their product and are still finalizing the functionality, coding and documentation. Beta customers are generally pleased, but want more features and functions. You have one junior recruiter who has about a year of experience at an agency and you have an admin who does scheduling and data entry. My question to you is where do you focus your recruiting efforts? What do you outsource, if anything, to an agency and what do you do internally? What do you assign to your junior recruiter and what do you do personally? These are the questions I run into almost every day in my work. Managers, recruiters and CEOs are all confused about how to allocate your talent and skills – the scarce resources of the talent war. There are several things to think through in allocating these skills. First of all, have you created a list of the most important positions in your company? By “important,” I mean how much these positions contribute to the success of the product or service. Certain positions in every company are vital to the company’s survival and the people who fill them are almost impossible to replace. These are the product creators or the sales folks who have the key customer relationships. These can also be the research people or the key programmers. While it feels perhaps unfair to rank positions as more or less valuable, this is the reality of the market. Some jobs pay more, some contribute more, and there ought to be a relationship between the two. Usually there is, but salary alone is not the best guide. I suggest that you rigorously examine every position in your company and determine which are the key ones and which are less key. The sole evaluation criteria are contribution to the product or service and to the profitability of the firm. People with little or no direct contribution are, by definition, placed at a lower level than those that do. I usually create a 2×2 grid that has each position located on it. The lower left quadrant shows the positions that are not particularly hard to fill and that are of low value to the company. These are positions such as clerks and receptionists. The upper left quadrant – where the positions are hard to fill but not really all that valuable to the firm may include human resource staff, accountants and so on. The lower right quadrant is for positions that are not too hard to fill but that are critical to the company’s success. These might include key sales people or content providers. The upper right quadrant is the focus area. This is where the most difficult to find and the most valuable positions lie. These might include the key technical providers, the key account relationship managers or the product inventor or developer. In many cases, I find that the emphasis is placed on recruiting for the left side of the 2×2 because that is where the volume hiring takes place and it is relatively easy to find people for those positions. Yet, that is exactly where you place the least emphasis. In fact, I recommend using your junior recruiter to fill the lower left positions, and outsourcing the upper left to an agency or third party. The managers themselves with some guidance from you can recruit the lower right positions. After all, these are positions that are not hard to find people for but are very important to the firm’s success. Here is where a hiring manager can learn about recruiting and be very successful. That leaves you to focus on the upper right – on the positions that add real value and that make the difference between the firm’s long-term profitability or its demise. So, make sure you FOCUS your efforts where it counts and let go of the recruiting that feels good and that meets quotas but does little to make the company a winner. If you would like a graphic image of the 2×2 grid, let me know (kwheeler@glresources.com). I will email one to you.

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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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