Dreaming? A Success Story About What Could Be, Part 3

In Part 3 of this series, we again continue with the fictional success story of a recruiting director named Soren, who made some important changes to revolutionize her recruiting process and the way her department was run. Soren struggled with a how to measure the productivity and quality of the recruiters and with how to show the contribution her team was making to the organization. She faced the question that many of us face?? how does the organization determine if a recruiter is doing a good job? Some people feel that by measuring turnover of the people hired by a recruiter they get some sense of the recruiter’s skill. This is probably a very suspect measure. Recruiters have little control over which person the hiring manager chooses, and no control at all over the manager’s management skill. Turnover is a better measure of a manager’s quality than that of a recruiter. A better measure would be to determine the match between the competencies and skills that were needed to do the job and those of the person hired. But this measure also suffers from the same issues as we discussed previously. In addition, it assumes that we were accurate in determining which competencies were the best ones for the job. Very often we find out that other competencies might have worked out better or that the candidate was successful because of skills we did not select for at all. After many hours of telephone discussions with other recruiting managers and after a lot of thought, Soren came up with two measures to help her decide on the quality of a recruiter. Number of Candidates Presented to the Hiring Manager The first is a simple one. Count how many candidates the manager looked at before making a hiring decision. The lower this number, the more successful the recruiter is. My fellow ERE author Lou Adler believes this is a critical measure, as do I. This metric captures a number of things that make a recruiter successful. In order to present only one or two candidates to a manager and have her make a decision, the recruiter has to have:

  • A talent pool of ready candidates so that he can quickly (see my next measure) present qualified and interested candidates.
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  • Credibility and a relationship with the hiring manager so that she believes the recruiter knows what he is doing and has the technical knowledge to do a proper screen.
  • An understanding of the business and the position.
  • The ability to properly assess the position and, despite any requisition or written statements, choose candidates who have the skills, experience, background, and capability to do the job?? and who have the right “fit” with the manager’s personality.

We often spend lots of time assessing how well someone fits the corporate culture we are recruiting for, and this is an important factor. Yet perhaps more important in the short term is how well a candidate fits the manager’s personality and whether there will be a rapport between them that will make them both more successful and content. The very best agency recruiters and the most experienced and credible corporate recruiters all possess the capability of picking a candidate who seems like a natural fit to the hiring manager. This is a way to also describe the difference between a beginning, a somewhat experienced, and a master recruiter. The fewer candidates that need to be presented, and the faster they are sourced, the better the recruiter. This brings up the second metric?? how quickly can a recruiter find a suitable candidate? Speed of Presentation There should be virtually no time at all between the time a request arrives for a particular person and the time that a candidate’s qualifications are available to the hiring manager. In many organizations, the time between receiving a requisition and finding a suitable candidate can be as long as 30 days. In a few organizations, and for some positions, it can be even longer. This happens because no one anticipates needs or builds talent pools. Anticipating demand, as we discussed last week, is a skill that recruiters need to develop. By working out various scenarios of what demand might occur and then setting up plans to deal with each of the possibilities, recruiters can be prepared for most swings in need. By working with HR and watching turnover and the growth of new initiatives, an expert recruiter can see where demand will be greatest and begin to build a talent pool of candidates who could fit into those areas. The talent pools we are talking about cannot be stagnant databases of resumes. Many of the people who submit resumes do not remember doing so, know very little about your organization, may not fit your culture, and probably no longer have the same telephone or email that is on the resume. Good talent pools are more like chat rooms, with a frequent two-way stream of communication and a flow of information about the organization and about the candidate. Candidates learn about the organization through your recruiting and corporate websites, as well as by emails and newsletters. They may even have correspondence with an employee to get a better sense of what your organization is like to work in. Soren knew that the recruiters she had decided to keep would be able to build good talent pools if they had the tools and motivation to do it. They were all experienced and credible recruiters who had slowly gained more and more respect from the hiring managers. Their primary weakness was in scenario planning and in anticipating what the managers would need. She was working on some formal training in scenario planning and in making sure that the recruiters had a steady flow of business news and plans so that they would not e caught unaware of big changes that could affect staffing. Ultimately, she wanted her recruiters to be talent consultants, advising the hiring managers on whether it would be better to fill a position with an outside hire or better to promote from within and perhaps do some training. Or maybe it would be better to eliminate the position or combine it with another. She anticipated that managers would want this strategic advice at some point, and her recruiters were getting ready. Eighteen months after her start, Soren had completely changed the recruiting environment and had garnered new respect from the operations and manufacturing teams. She had improved service by a lot, changed the impression managers had of the recruiting function, and was well-positioned to do some exciting new things in screening and assessment and with technology. Any one of you can do the same. Every great journey, as the Chinese proverb says, begins with a single step.

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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