Getting Effective and Efficient: First Steps In Putting Your House In Order

In the wake of downsizing, work overloads, and an uncertain economy, few recruiting functions have taken any time at all to think about how efficient or effective their recruiting process may be. Many of us have inherited or accumulated a mish-mash of technology, and our processes have grown up around us ó almost by themselves. When you’re in the midst of such a time, it becomes difficult to approach things in an orderly or careful way. Good ideas are grasped as they arrive, with the thought that some day you will take the time to integrate, evaluate, and eliminate. Well, the time has come. Whether or not the next six months will bring us out of our hiring doldrums, we do know one thing: eventually it will end, and probably with a sudden spurt that will take us by surprise. A house in order is not only a splendid thing, it is also efficient and will make this start up ó whenever it comes ? occur more smoothly. Here are some things to consider over the next few weeks. Fix Your Recruiting Processes The first step in getting the function organized is to map out your current recruiting processes. Start with the hiring manager’s need to recruit someone and work your way through each step in the process. What does the manager have to do, when, to whom and so on? How does a recruiter get the requisition? When? What is the first thing she does? The second and the third? Go through everything until you end with a new employee on the job. This is sometimes referred to as “stapling oneself to the hiring manager.” You may also want to approach this from the perspective of the candidate and compare the two. You will have to decide for yourself which is the most important. You can hire consultants to help you in this process, but it is straightforward enough that you can do it yourself. While it can be an exhausting process, it is so worthwhile that I highly recommend it. I often help my clients do it, and find that in the end they know exactly what needs to get fixed and what can wait ó and then have a roadmap for implementation. If you have never done a systematic analysis like this, it would be very wise to attend a seminar on business process improvement or business process mapping. These are offered at local colleges and from many independent seminar firms. There is also a good book on this topic called, Business Process Mapping: Improving Customer Satisfaction, by J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller. Or get the delightfully simple book by Dianne Galloway, Mapping Work Processes. There are many other good books as well, the point being that process mapping is a powerful tool and a way to get your arms around what looks like chaos. Also, if you work in a technology, manufacturing or engineering-type firm, I am sure one of your engineers knows how to do this. Manufacturing managers have used these techniques for years to identify bottlenecks and fix problem on the line. A small, cross-functional team assigned to map your current processes can make good progress quickly. Once the current steps are clearly identified, it is a logical next step to compare your processes to those of top organizations. Comparative and benchmark data can be found at places such as the Saratoga Institute,, Spherion, Watson-Wyatt, and the Conference Board. By comparing your current processes to some standard of excellent, you can uncover deficiencies in areas you may think are quite good. You may even find that a process you don’t think is very efficient is actually satisfactory. In any case, the goal is to make your recruiting processes better by eliminating redundancies, integrating steps for simplification, or reducing administrivia. Once this analysis and comparison is finished, you can decide which gaps can be closed quickly and which will take time. You can plot out how to fix these against your available resources of time and money. You can decide whether you have the right structure and the right tools, and you can base your decisions on how things really work ó not your own guess work or someone else’s opinion. Fix (or Create) Your Recruiting Website Another necessary step to take in your makeover is to ensure that your website not only looks good but is also functional at several levels. Almost everyone has a recruiting website ó whether static and text-oriented or interactive and graphically exciting ó but few organizations have sites that really deliver good, pre-screened candidates to the recruiter’s desktop. The goal should be to make the website work well behind the scenes for both the candidate and the recruiter. For the candidate, the site should be easy to use, informative, and filled with useful information. It should offer a straightforward path to potential employment. For the recruiter, the site should deliver pre-screened candidates and offer a way to establish ongoing communication and build relationships. This means you need to take the time to evaluate your current site and rate how well it does both of these things. This is part of the process mapping I mention above. But it is also a separate process that may require you to rethink what software you are using, how it might integrate into the site, and at what difficulty and cost. This is the time to build a plan to improve the website and to lay out the time and budget it will take. By setting some targets for improvements and building a project plan, you can make big improvements with better integration than you have had before. Aim To Build Relationships, Not Just Communicate A third way to improve your function is to continue to find ways to build relationships with candidates, not just send them emails once in a while. Relationships happen when there is an exchange of meaningful information and when a level of trust is established. While email is a part of that, providing candidates with feedback on their skills, helping steer them to the right position within the company for those skills, and being honest about opportunities at your company (or the lack thereof) is also essential. Take a look at my article on customer relationship management (CRM) for other ideas on how to build relationships and make your website serve you well. Don’t forget to keep the relationships that already exist with those who have recently left your organization (voluntarily or not) ó the so-called corporate alumni ó and with those who have interviewed for jobs but have not been hired. Even though they may not have been a match this time, they may be the next time. The better they feel about your company, the easier they will be to hire. If you have read carefully, you can see how all these tie together and how all hinge on having a careful look at what you are actually doing today. The time is now for improving your processes and making sure you really know what you are doing and why.

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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, 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


1 Comment on “Getting Effective and Efficient: First Steps In Putting Your House In Order

  1. Kevin-

    I feel a rush of bluntness coming on…

    Internal recruiters need to become part of the strategic fabric of their business: They must be consulted by their internal customers far before the requisition becomes a reality.

    The recruiter must be present when…

    The head of product development and head of marketing sit down to discuss new products;

    The GC and CFO get together to talk about new Federal legislation and how it can impact the company;

    When the head of sales wonders why the sales force is being consistently beaten by key competitors.

    Get the picture?

    What I don’t understand is why experts continue to perfume the pig about recruiting – there are fundamental problems in most organizations as it relates to integrating recruiting in with the business strategy. It is a problem that is so much more complex than simply re-designing a career website.

    Time to fix the foundation; perhaps its also time to come out of HR’s shadow too.

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