Having just finished cycling this summer from Finland to Equator, I am ready to get back to the important business of recruiting. Call me negative if you like, but it seems as though recruiting, the function that is most responsible for building great companies, is making more noise these days than it is making progress. I wish I could say otherwise, but I am bombarded, on a daily basis, with all kinds of nonsense that makes me roll my eyes and wonder how recruiting at times appears to be a circus than a profession. Cases in point:
- Endless talk of the coming hiring boom/employee shortage. What hiring boom? When? Give me a break. Sure the economy is a bit better, but if you are waiting around for the days of three offers for every two interviews, you’ll be waiting longer than I do to have my son clean his room (sorry Nicolai). It should be obvious by now that the economy has lost, for reasons few can understand and fewer can explain, endless high-paying positions and has replaced them with fewer positions that are earning fewer dollars.
- Hucksters sending out endless spam. Everything from job fairs, member only websites, online databases, and exclusive social networking groups you can join if you meet the tight criteria for membership. (You have money and you are breathing.)
- New and different metrics that few, if any occupying the corner office, will ever see or care about. Doubt this? Bring your favorite metrics article to your CEO and ask them to read it and tell you what there reaction is and how it applies to their perception and understanding of the recruiting function. You will be lucky if you don’t get fired. (Sorry, displaced.)
- Consultants selling programs that will turn your recruiters into “killer recruiters.” I think not. As a matter of fact, it would be great to get the metric folks and the killer recruiter folks together in a room and have them measure the true effectiveness of how well these programs really work over a one-year time period. I am, however, concerned that, if left alone, the killer recruiters would eat the metrics people. More will be discussed on this in another article.
This, folks, is just the tip of the iceberg. I won’t even mention the three emails a week I get from a job board that offers me a $100 gift certificate to several leading retailers if I sign on to their service. Even if they had the best organization to come along since New York pizza, how could I in good conscience suggest to a client that we sign on with such a blatant conflict of interest staring me in the face? (Besides, I already have a pair of pants. Why would I need another?) Judging from this tirade, one might assume that I have little hope for recruiting as a profession. But that’s not true. I am open to new ideas and technologies as much as anyone I know. But we as a profession need to separate the real from the nonsense if we are to be successful. We must ignore the voices, distractions, and chicanery that creep into workplace consciousness and focus on doing all of the things necessary to raise the bar and set new standards of excellence for the organizations that need us and the people who look to us for guidance. Great recruiting is never going to be a killer application, a one-day training, or a database with a gazillion resumes. Great recruiting is a process that starts with a commitment from the recruiter to achieve a level of excellence and continue to work daily to maintain that level. Recruiting is a tactical monster comprised of a million details that often occur at the same time. Any dropping of the ball makes us less effective while adding to the overall angst of candidates, hiring managers, and the recruiting function as a whole. Recruiting is, and unless something changes dramatically, will always be, a detail-oriented, high-touch business that requires constant push if we are to fill positions. If we do not recognize this reality and attend to the physics of what recruiting is all about, our successes will be few and we will join the ranks of the mediocre, a fate I personally would do anything to avoid. With this in mind, I believe that the timing of this article is good because we are entering a new year (I still operate on the academic calendar ó probably too many years in school) and it is a perfect time to review just a few of the fundamentals that help make us the very best at elevating our profession as well as ourselves. Consider the following questions as a small sampling of things you should be thinking about:
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- Are you communicating effectively with your candidates? If not, you should do so; you are where the rubber hits meets the road. Are you tired of candidates who called you too many times this week to see if there was any movement on a given position for which they interviewed? Too bad. Call them back and show some compassion. I have run into many good recruiters who seem a bit arrogant these days. I suggest that you lose the attitude and be thankful you are working. You have nothing for which to be arrogant. Nothing.
- Do you treat candidates who are interviewing for less than critical positions with a lesser amount of respect than those interviewing at the “C” level? If so, why? Those at the “C” level are used to being fawned over and served their coffee in bone china with endless people asking them if they had any trouble finding the company and seeing that they are well fed. Try doing that with the truck drivers and secretaries of the world. Being respectful and polite costs you nothing, and you will be remembered by the candidate for a far longer period of time than you will ever know.
- Are you guilty of age discrimination? Not the blatant kind that does not hire anyone over forty. I’m talking about the more sleazy type that looks for an experience range of three to five years and does not interview anyone with more experience because the hiring managers just know that those candidates will not work out: they no longer have a fire in the belly or they will quit as soon as a better job comes along. (If your organization has government contracts you are just begging for a lawsuit and you will loose because the government is hell on age discrimination.)
- Are you spending all day on the job boards firing off resumes to hiring managers? If so, I will make this short: please find new and creative sourcing methods (networking, attending focused community events, direct sourcing etc.). Sitting on the boards all day adds no real value. After awhile, the only thing to be fired off will be you.
- Perhaps most importantly, are you calling them as you see them relating to candidates who do not measure up to the organization’s standards of excellence? As recruiters, we interact with candidates more than hiring managers. We talk with them at all hours and under all situations. As we gain experience, we begin to know who will make a significant contribution to the organization and who is just there for a job. If you have concerns about a candidate, voice them and do not stop voicing them until there is a resolution. Even if you are overruled and the candidate is hired, at least you can look in the mirror and know that you spoke your mind and did not give into the useless politics of the day. Of all the organizational crimes in which one can partake, becoming the recruiting Pollyanna for the sake of political acceptance and career development is the most odious. It greatly compromises the role of recruiting at its most critical juncture and in the long run buys you no real credibility or respect. The commitment of speaking your mind and letting the pieces fall where they may is a giant step in elevating both yourself and the profession.
Please give these ideas some thought, because they really are some of the difference makers in terms of success and professionalism. And do come to the ER Expo 2004 Fall in Boston if at all possible. It is always a great event and I would love to see you there.