Focus Your Recruiting on Positions That Matter

XYZ Corporation has seen the economy get better quarter after quarter. Its recruiters have seen the number of open position going up quickly as well. The handful of recruiters at XYZ is faced with recruiting a high volume of call center staff, key technical talent, and management and executive positions, and they recently learned that the CEO wants to ramp up college recruiting for next year. My question to you is where do these recruiters focus their recruiting efforts? What do they outsource, if anything, and what do they do internally? These are the questions I run into almost every day in my work. Managers, recruiters, and CEOs are all confused about how to allocate the scarce recruiting talent and skills that remain. Usually there is no option to add more staff, as budgets are still tight and the doors to contract recruiting remain closed. There are several things to think through in allocating the skills you have. First of all, have you created a list of the most important positions in your company ó important meaning how much these positions contribute to the success of the product or service your company provides or to your customers’ satisfaction? 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. Sometimes, though, the most important people are those who interface with the customers directly and lead to higher sales or to customers coming back to buy more. They 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 the key ones are and which are not so important. The only evaluation criteria should be how much the position contributes to your firm’s products or services and how much to the profitability of the firm. People with little or no direct contribution are, by definition, placed in a lower level than those that do. I usually create a two-by-two 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 ó where the positions are hard to fill but not really all that valuable to the firm ó may include employees such as lawyers and 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 salespeople, content providers, or college grads with high potential. The upper-right quadrant is where the most difficult to find and most valuable positions lie. These might include the key technical providers, the key account relationship managers, or the product inventors or developers. In many cases, I find that the emphasis is placed on recruiting for the left side of the two-by-two grid, because that’s where volume hiring takes place and it is relatively easy to find people for those positions. Yet that is exactly where you should place the least emphasis. In fact, I recommend using your least experienced recruiters to fill the lower-left positions or outsourcing them to an agency or third party. Positions that fall into the upper-left quadrant can be filled through outsourcing, referral, or by minimal involvement of the recruiting staff. Often, managers can recommend good people for those spots. The lower-right quadrant is a critical one and represents those people who are both current contributors to the organization’s success and those who will move up into the upper-right quadrant as they become more skilled. Again, often hiring managers themselves, with some guidance from you, can recruit for the lower-right positions. After all, these are positions that are not extremely hard to find people for but are very important to the firm’s success. It is also a vital area for recruiters to focus on. Good hiring in this area means that those people will leverage the strength of others to achieve extraordinary results. That leaves the upper right for the most senior and experienced recruiters. This is where they can focus on those few positions that add the most real value and that make the difference between your firm’s long-term profitability and its demise. 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. Putting recruiters to work hiring those in the lower-left quadrant or on the highly skilled but marginal contributors who reside in the upper left quadrant reduces the power of your talent team. By making a strong business case for assigning them to recruit for the critical jobs, you put yourself and your organization in a better light.

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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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1 Comment on “Focus Your Recruiting on Positions That Matter

  1. Right on. The most challenging element of recruiting is NOT the recruiting itself but the management of the relationships with the hiring managers. Having the business sense to say ‘No, you’re not first in line’ to a hiring manager, is far and away the most important quality – IMHO – of the top recruiters. Knowing the functions and how they fit into the short and longer term needs of the organization is a skill that needs to be developed by all recruiters.

    I’ll say it again – recruiting is the most difficult job in an organization. Kevin’s approach to resource allocation demonstrates how complex the job truly is…

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