Less Work, More Time? Try Differentiating Candidates and Applying Technology

Are all your open positions of the same value to your organization? Most of us don’t really stop and think about this, but we all know that certain positions contribute more to the success of our organization than others. To treat all positions as equally valuable is probably impossible to do effectively. Positions within organizations fall into one of four categories: administrative/maintenance, special services, professional/technical, or strategic/critical. Even though we intuitively know this, we tend to practice a policy that is called “FIFO” in the manufacturing arena. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out” ó and in a recruiter’s case, it means that you work on the first requisition you received first, the next one after that and so on sequentially. Obviously, there are times when this order changes, and sure, we always have a few “hot” requisitions that we are working on because they are for an important executive. But mostly we practice FIFO, or even at times LIFO: Last in, First Out. In other words, we usually don’t prioritize our workload by how critical a position is to the organization. But what if we prioritized our work differently? We could gain real benefits in time and volume. By taking some ideas from manufacturing environments, and also from the most advanced call centers and service organizations, you can increase the number of candidates that you place and also have more time to spend on the hard to find candidates. 1. Sort positions by the value they add. The secret of successful manufacturing is to use people only where they add real value. In all other cases, it’s recommended you either use technology or else simplify the process so that people involvement is eliminated or minimized. In factory after factory ó and increasingly in call centers and other service centers ó you can witness the use of technology to reduce the need for human involvement. Dell Computer has evolved a highly sophisticated AI-based system to guide computer users through troubleshooting their systems. Only the really complex or difficult problems ever get to a “real” person. But the first step to applying these techniques to recruiting involves sorting the positions in your organization by the value they add to the bottom line. Many of you are familiar with the 2×2 grid that I frequently use to explain how you might organize your thinking about candidate types: Looking at the diagram, the lower left quadrant shows the positions that are not particularly hard to fill and that are of minimum value to the company in terms of producing revenue or generating new products. These are often referred to as the administrative/maintenance positions. The upper left quadrant, where the positions are hard to fill but not really all that valuable to the firm, include all the positions that could be outsourced to a consultancy or done by people on an as-needed basis or on a retainer. These are often special services that the organization needs from time to time that don’t generate revenue or products. 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 or content providers, or college grads with high potential. In other words, this is the quadrant that includes your professional and technical staff, which does the bulk of the work and may move to the upper right hand box later in their career. The upper right quadrant is where the most difficult to find and the most valuable positions lie. These include the strategically critical people ó key technical providers, the key account relationship managers or the product inventor or developer. Even within a quadrant, positions can be further ranked as to their importance and urgency. For example, in the lower left hand box, secretaries may rank higher than receptionists or product engineers higher than accountants. The most important thing to accomplish in this initial step is the identification and prioritization of all the candidate types and positions for which you have requisitions. By doing this you can begin to determine which ones you should focus on first. 2. Determine how to fill the position. Once you have made a sort of this kind ó not necessarily an easy feat ó you need to decide how best to fill each type of position. The question that has to be asked is, which of these positions could be filled with a minimal amount of recruiter involvement? Most organizations today are operating with fewer recruiters and these recruiters have more requisitions to process and fewer qualified candidates to fill them with. I don’t think this situation will improve over the next 12 months or even over the next 24 months. All recruiters will be expected to be more productive, handle more requisitions, candidates and hiring managers than they have before. This is why technology is essential and where it can be put to good use. You could set up your processes so that all candidates of a particular type ó for example, those who are not critical to your organization’s success and are not too hard to find ó are sourced and screened entirely through your recruiting website and associated technology. Candidates can be screened, a background check run, and a tentative offer made without any human contact at all. I will grant you that this requires a huge shift in thinking for both recruiters and hiring managers, but it is both possible and legal. These pre-screened and pre-assessed candidates can be automatically scheduled for an interview with a hiring manager. This will free you up to focus on the higher priority candidates who need personal attention and perhaps face-to-face selling. As more and more candidates go through this screening process, refinements and enhancements can be added to it to continuously make it more accurate and reflective of your evolving needs. If this sounds like fantasy, image someone describing a modern manufacturing process to someone alive in 1950 or 1960. No one would believe that we could make so many products with so few people. This only happened because demand outpaced an affordable supply of people. 3. Let go of the past and embrace the future. Even for those positions which are critical, technology can assist in reducing your workload to more manageable levels. Today, the cursory screening tools offered by many applicant tracking systems do little to reduce your work. They may sort and rank candidates, but they still leave you to make decisions and perhaps even take the time to look over very marginal candidates. Letting go of past practices is very difficult to do, but it is essential to your success. Your goal should be to add enough quantity and quality of automated screens so that the number of candidates you take the time to review comes down to a manageable number. In a study we are conducting we have identified over 80 firms who provide such tools. The technology is available. There has been a time when experimentation in the recruiting arena has been as promising as it is today. Vendors are standing in the wings waiting to be asked to contribute to your success. What is lacking is willing recruiting organizations ready to try something that will measurably improve their productivity.

Article Continues Below

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.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *