Just-in-Time Recruiting

We continue to hear that we may be heading towards a “double-dip” recession. But recruiting problems persist, even in light of the slowdown. Many recruiters are left asking, “If the economy is so bad, and there are so many candidates out there, why am I having such a hard time finding top performers?” A radical change of philosophy in how you attract and interact with these top performers may be in order. With a new approach to advertising your openings, the right candidates will be matched with the right jobs “just in time.” The New Reactionary Recruiting Model Over the past few years, recruiting budgets have gotten smaller as employers have shifted their budget dollars from more expensive sources, like print and search firms, to less expensive sources like online recruiting. In general, the Internet has had a positive influence on both recruiting costs and times. Despite these positive changes, the reactionary recruiting model is still alive and well in corporate America! The old ways of doing business ó “Get a job, post it in the newspaper, watch the resumes pour in” ó has merely been changed to, “Get a job, post it online, watch the resumes pour in.” In the illustration below, I will show why this is an inadequate way to attract and interact with top talent. I’ll also discuss a new way to greatly increase the skill sets in your talent pipeline. An Example of Why Timing Is Everything Anne Player (“A. Player”) is not a job seeker ó at least not yet. She is happily employed, her company values her contributions, and she is well-respected in her industry. Company X is not hiring for A. Player’s position now ó at least not yet. However, they are likely going to have a huge ramp-up their hiring needs in six months and will have incredible opportunities for people just like A. Player. Quite suddenly, A. Player’s company’s stock price takes a nose dive, making her think twice about the stock-laden compensation plan she is receiving. Even though she’s not planning to leave anytime soon, she needs to hedge her bets. She therefore becomes a passive job seeker and starts to look at the online job listings to see what else is out there and who else is hiring. She logs onto her job board of choice and seeks out positions. She finds several companies of interest, but doesn’t see or apply to Company X’s posting. Why? Because they have no postings. Company X is waiting until their hiring cycle begins to react to their openings, at which point they will bemoan the fact that there are no high-performing, passive candidates online or in the market for their openings. What’s Wrong With This Picture? Company X has fallen victim to the “new” reactionary recruiting model. Assuming that the perfect candidate for your opening will be looking for jobs during the 30-to-60-day window you post your jobs is like assuming that if you open your window at some random time during the morning, your paperboy will just happen to be riding by and the morning paper will come flying in. If timing is everything, Company X is left with nothing in the pipeline, and will pay out the nose to find the top candidates once their openings become available. A New Approach: Skills-Based Marketing How can companies cast their nets a little wider to get more candidates like A. Player without getting overwhelmed by a huge volume of unqualified resumes? The answer may be found in skills-based marketing. Many of you have Applicant Tracking Systems that can help you more quickly identify top talent with tools like skills-based screening, prescreening and ranking features, and candidate alerts. Yet your recruiting approach is still stuck in a reactionary mode, in which you wait for openings before advertising for them. Skills-based marketing, on the other hand, implies that you will have some idea of the general skills you will need in the months ahead, and can find commonalities among them. For instance, if you are a software company, you may know that you will have a variety of software engineering openings that require C+ programming skills. Or you may know that you will need more general expertise, like top-performing salespeople. Why wait until you actually have openings to begin filling your talent pipeline? While the economy is still trying to regain its footing, there are many good (even great) candidates out there who are unsure of their company’s future or have found their way on a layoff list. If your upcoming, ongoing, or critical “skills gaps” were constantly being advertised for, candidates like A. Player would be more likely to find their way into your talent relationship database. In summary, proactively looking for skills instead of reacting to openings will increase your chances of finding the best talent. It will also allow you to identify the best candidates “just in time.”

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Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (www.talentsparkconsulting.com), a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.


1 Comment on “Just-in-Time Recruiting

  1. Dave’s thoughts are articulated well and provide good insight into widening the window of candidate availability and stretching the advertising dollar.

    For many of us in the industry that have been around awhile, this has been common practice for years and years. In fact during the mid 1990’s run up of the technology economy, a scan of the Sunday NY Times help wanted section would show ad after ad, week after week from the same company or search firm advertising for anyone that had a laundry list of skills to send a resume.

    It may be more labor intensive, but my experience has shown that a similar and more successful approach can be made by isolating A players by discovering who is being asked to speak at seminars or conferences, who is being quoted in industry trade publications and the myriad other ways that can be used to determine who the industry’s high achievers really are. At which point, contacting these A players directly and developing a professional relationship for the long haul – regardless of the current project that is being worked on, can develop a much deeper pool of talent than hoping one of these A types see an advertisement.

    Quite frankly, at Step Hire we take both approaches, but concentrate on the direct method. I would be interested to know if other firms or corporate recruiting groups are doing this as well?

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