Recruiter Bill was referred to Candidate Joe around 3 p.m. on a Thursday. Candidate Joe was pleased to get Recruiter Bill’s phone call and seemed very interested. Candidate Joe was employed by a competitor, had all the right skills and experience, and faxed his bio almost immediately after being contacted. He didn’t have a “real” resume, as he hadn’t been looking for another job. Recruiter Bill suggested he take the weekend, log into the recruiting website, and enter his information. They agreed to have a follow-up telephone conversation Monday morning.
Around 2:30 p.m. Monday, Recruiter Bill remembered that Candidate Joe had not called. He dialed the phone. Candidate Joe answered and said, “Oh, a friend of mine saw me working on my resume Saturday morning. He referred me to his boss on Sunday and we met this morning. I think I’m going to go work for them. Thanks for the interest.”
If this or something similar has happened to you, then you can appreciate that traditional recruiting processes need to change.
Do you know how long the average candidate is available and willing to listen to offers? How about the tough-to-find technical candidate? If you said seven days and three days, respectively, you win the prize! And in the example above, it took even fewer days.
As countless other experts and I have said: “This is a seller’s market.” The candidate is king and often makes decisions in minutes or hours, not days or weeks. Your processes have to reflect this need for speedy decision-making and efficient processes.
Consider the following five streamlining solutions to make your recruiting zip along with the best in class:
Idea #1: Empower key people to make instant decisions about candidates. Let managers and recruiters make provisional offers on the spot, perhaps with salary and other details contingent on final approval from HR. As a recruiter, make sure managers have access to online salary information and prepare materials that they can access easily wherever they are to help assess a candidate. These could include online screening tools or something as simple as a list of prepared questions.
Provide them with a standard form for a provisional offer that they can email to a candidate ? and make this offer simple enough to be sent to and read on a Blackberry or other PDA.
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One executive I know has hired two senior-level people on airplanes at 35,000 feet. Just the idea of being offered a job in an airplane seat is enough to get candidates to say yes. He says the candidates were really serious, showed up for final interviews and application processing, and are both working in his firm today. As I have repeated, screen people into your firm by finding them a job that fits their skills and desires, and do not screen people out by the traditional methods of endless interviews and unclear job duties.
Idea #2: Get rid of bureaucracy. Remove approval layers and reduce the number of interviews to just two to three at the most. Make sure you have a probationary period and terminate poor performers quickly. While it is nice to make slow and certain decisions about people, this marketplace does not make that a very practical policy. While testing and other assessment processes raise the level of certainty about a candidate, they should never interfere with making offers to potentially good people who have been assessed by qualified and empowered managers. If it is critical that a candidate have a particular skill, at least let them know you are very interested and streamline whatever testing process you have. Every day that passes without a decision reduces the likelihood of availability and acceptance.
Idea #3: Take a chance. People are hard to predict, as all of us who are or have been recruiters know. Wendell Williams, Charles Handler, and other ERE writers have written that most of our traditional measures of candidates are useless. As Wendell has said, an interview is perhaps only 1% accurate when it comes to predicting how well an employee will work out. Smart managers and smart recruiters are willing to risk a little on a candidate who seems reasonable, and not lose the candidate while they include a few more people in the process.
Idea #4: Know what you are looking for. I can’t tell you how many times candidates tell me about the interviews they had for positions that were never described to them clearly and that had vague responsibilities. We all work in a rapidly changing world and we all have to have flexibility in describing a job. That’s okay; however, it is not appropriate to interview candidates for skills they may not need, for jobs that may never materialize, for jobs that seem to duplicate other jobs in the firm and people don’t understand why more are needed, and on and on. Keep things well-defined with a simple reporting structure. I believe that thousands of jobs go unfilled every month because they are not defined enough to convince a candidate of the need for or of the importance of the position to the firm.
Idea #5: Develop impeccable customer service. This final tip is my old favorite, as you should never make a candidate have to call you. Get back to candidates the same day as the interview. Give them honest assessments and feedback. Provide information immediately. If you are having them travel for an interview, fly them first class or put them up in a fancy hotel. Give them VIP treatment ? limo, nice restaurant, whatever. The cost is minimal compared to losing them to a competitor. People remember good service, even if you don’t end up hiring them. They will spread the word and make sure that your company gets good publicity. We often treat minor customers better than candidates. Which, in the long run, is worth more?
As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand . . .keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”