Recruiting at Cisco

As a speaker at a recent recruiting conference, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Randall Birkwood, Director of Employment at Cisco Systems. Cisco was in at the onset of online recruiting and has been one of the most innovative companies in this space. Together we reviewed where Cisco is today amidst the trends to win in the human capital world. Cisco has a great retention rate. Turnover was 6.3% in 1999 and never went above 7.3% in the 90’s. These statistics are impressive on two levels. It shows not only that Cisco has maintained a very low rate for its industry, but also that it has been measuring and acting on that rate for over 10 years. Randall responded to the question about how to have that type of retention rate. First, he attributes it to the intrinsic value of Cisco: the right culture for its employees, its focus on empowerment, communication and the team-centric organization. But most important, he thinks, is to have a customer-centric organization. Customer Satisfaction Customer-centric is a key concept to understand for any recruiter, and Randall emphasized the dual aspect of the recruiters’ customers. On one side we have the hiring managers, on the other the candidates. But servicing these two clients involves more than just mentioning them. It means making sure that customer satisfaction is rising and consequently it requires measuring this customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is regarded as very important, and compensation and bonuses are linked to it! Identifying your clients, and quantifying their satisfaction, is only the beginning, though. The key for true success is to act on data and use results analysis to empower your team to be able to perform and improve. At Cisco, the recruiters are not only responsible, they are also close to the clients they are serving. Cisco’s recruiters are genuine business partners. Business metrics are built around the business and not around justifying a support presence. Recruiting Team What are the skills Cisco is looking for today in its recruiting team? First of all, recruiting is a generic term that includes two major distinctions: the sourcer and the recruiter. These two functions have different skills sets. For the sourcer, excellent phone and Internet skills are necessary. For the recruiter, the focus is on good multitasking and people skills. People skills are important to have, especially in a changing economy where you have to be able to understand the moving target. According to Randall, the gold rush is over, and today people are looking more for a great company, with more security, and are attracted by the value of the experience they can gain instead of only the amount of the stock option package. For Cisco, with its stock down 20% compared to a year ago, it is important to focus on success factors. Success in companies has been correlated to their ability to re-invent themselves; Cisco’s senior management emphasis on agility makes it a corporate mission. Agility In Recruiting What does it mean for recruiting to be agile? What does it mean to implement new practices, and more importantly, what are these new practices? Today Cisco focuses less on cool and leading technology than on process, and promotes its recruiters as business partners. Randall says that in addition to implementing new tools in the future, its concentration is to involve a customer-centric organization around business-minded recruiters who are thinking more in terms of competency based hiring and the business implication of their actions. Time has come for organizations to understand that the role of recruitment is more than just as a paper pusher; it is now a business enabler. Empowering the human capital department to become responsible and single points of contact, (as well as the point of complaints, if called for) is the way Randall sees that the integration at Cisco has started to work. Cisco’s Lesson Those of you who are still struggling to implement technology should understand the lesson. The technology is an enabler that must be supported by strong change management, consulting and new reporting which will position recruitment as a true human capital function. People are the most important capital for companies. Having a technology-enabled department that supports the corporate business process as a business partner is how Cisco ranked in the top three on Fortune magazine’s list of best companies to work for. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

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Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.



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