How’s Your Recruiting Process? Some Tips and Thoughts on Spring Cleaning

Charles was tired. He had just spent half a day writing the names of all the recruiting tools and technology his company had adopted, tried out, or purchased over the past two years. The list ran from the more than one dozen job boards to the personal contact managers some recruiters still used despite the recent acquisition of an ATS system. It also included the hastily thrown together Excel spreadsheets used to track candidate interviews and start date schedules, as well as the internally developed employee referral system. He hadn’t even begun to catalog the websites that were frequently consulted or all the ad hoc processes that were used here and there throughout the firm. It amazed him that everything worked ó at least most of the time! In the scramble to get competitive over the past two years, many recruiting functions accumulated technology and threw together recruiting ideas and processes with little coordination or deep thought. When you are in the midst of a war for talent it becomes very difficult to approach things in an orderly or careful way. Good ideas are grasped as they arrive, with the thought that someday you will take the time to integrate, evaluate and eliminate. Well, the time has come. One of the good things arising out of the slow economy is the time to look over all that you are doing and make changes that streamlines and integrate so that you are ready when the next battle occurs. And with an improving economy and a shortage of skilled talent, it will come soon. Here are some thoughts to consider on how to streamline your recruiting process. Outline an Overall Process Flow The first step in getting the function organized is to map out the current way you are doing things. For this step it would be very wise to attend a seminar on business process improvement or business process mapping, which are frequently 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 ó the point being that process mapping is a powerful tool and a way to get your arms around what looks like chaos. A team of two or three people assigned to map the current processes can make good progress quickly. Once the current steps are clearly identified, it is a logical next step to making the process better by eliminating redundancies, integrating steps, or simplifying the administrivia. After this first step, you can look at whether you have the right structure or the right tools, and you can base your decisions on how things really work. Of course, to save time and gain expertise, you can also hire a consultant to help you. Be Good ó Don’t Just Look Good Make sure your website not only looks good, but is also functional at several levels. Almost everyone has a recruiting website ó whether it be a static and text-oriented or interactive and graphically exciting ó but few have sites that really deliver good, pre-screened candidates to the recruiter’s desktop. The goal this year should be to make the website work well behind the scenes for the candidate and the recruiter. For the candidate the site should be easy to use, informative, and filled with useful information, offering a straightforward path to potential employment. For the recruiter, the site should deliver prescreened 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, and yet it is also a separate process that may require you to rethink what software you are using and how it might integrate into this site ó and at with what difficulty and at what 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 yourself 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 The third leg of improving 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 (or the lack of them) are also essential. I advocate a process that prescreens candidates and allows them to opt-in for ongoing emails, newsletters, phone calls, and other contact by people within your company. When candidates opt-in, they take control and can decide they are no longer interested. This frees you or your staff up from having to decide who should or should not be in the communication loop. All relationships need time to grow. Make sure that you spend time with your ATS vendor and your web people to put in place some level of automated, ongoing communication tools. And 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 and 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. This is the year for process improvement and for the integration of all those pieces you bought or inherited.

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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


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