Now you have what you always wanted: the chance to build your own recruiting function. Just a few days ago you were a recruiter, an HR generalist, or in some other role where you performed as an individual contributor. Just a few days ago you knew exactly what you would do should you ever have the chance, and it all seemed simpler than it does now.
As in all things, the first few days are the most challenging and they will set the tone for the future. I sometimes get emails or phone calls from newly minted recruiting managers who want some advice on first steps.
While each case is different, there are a few steps anyone can take to maximize the chances of success. Building strong foundations are as important for a recruiting function as they are for buildings.
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You have about 90 days to make a first impression. No matter the circumstances, your future will be at least somewhat judged on whether you meet your goals, impress the boss, and set a positive tone for the future. By opening clear communication with your manager and by working with him or her to set some specific goals, you can vastly improve your chance of success.
Here are three suggestions on what to do:
- Step One: Determine your recruiting philosophy and approach. The first step is particularly critical: working with your boss, determine a philosophy and general approach that will underline and define your recruiting function. Work with your boss, the management team, and the VP of HR to come up with a written philosophy and guiding principles for your function. Some of this comes from answering a few tough questions: What is most important to you and your boss about recruiting? Is it finding quality candidates or is it finding a lot of candidates? Why were you chosen? What is expected? Is it taking time to filter numerous candidates against a predetermined matrix of competencies, or is it just finding “good” people and getting the positions filled? Are you going to look at resumes and make decisions or are you going to determine competency by interviewing, by testing, or by both? The list of questions can go on, and you will have to develop your own set. The most important thing is to enter into a dialog with management and get a consensus on your organization’s philosophy. Many recruiting managers cannot answer these questions, yet the answers always exist whether they are articulated or not. They are fundamental to forging a strategy that will lead to management acceptance and success. Many organizations have very clear philosophies and they are usually the most successful. Google focuses on engineers and software gurus. The selection process is tough. People are critically examined and challenged. The goal is to get a few of the best. KPMG focuses on new college graduates and screening is about academic excellence and cultural fit. Whatever the recruiting approach, its consistent practice coupled to results will lead to your acceptance and success.
- Step Two: How will your success be measured? Some recruiting managers seem to prefer to work with little more than the number of people hired or number of candidates screened as measures of their worth to the firm. I would prefer something a little more significant. For example, one measure could be the time it takes to present a qualified candidate to a hiring manager. This is an impressive statistic and combines how well your recruiters know their hiring managers, the quality of their sourcing, and the quality of your talent community. If your recruiters can produce good candidates in a few hours or days, you know you have a winning team. Another measure might be the quality of the hires as measured by hiring manager satisfaction and long-term retention. Take a look at the metrics put forth by the non-profit Staffing.org association. They publish benchmarks and formulas, and I highly recommend participating in their work and in a dialogue about what should be measured. Couple this with at least two to three specific accomplishments you agree to complete within 90 days. This will be how your boss judges you and will help you complete the next step.
- Step Three: Create a recruiting strategy. All of this needs to be followed by an overall strategy for your recruiting function. The “whys” should have been answered in your philosophy, and you should now know what you have to get done. What remains is how to make that happen. This is where you can focus on whether you are going to recruit for every position or just for certain ones and outsource the rest. This is when you can begin to make decisions about the kinds of recruiters you have. You may not have any choice and then you will have to figure out how to assign and motivate them to help you achieve your goals and those of the organization. The strategy should evolve smoothly from the philosophy and visioning and can be written almost as a road map to the future. It requires discussion around resources and capabilities and speed. It also requires tradeoffs and compromises. And, only after the philosophy, metrics, and strategy are in place can you safely move to the tactical: the staffing plans, the computer systems, the website design, and the other many elements that are needed for success.
Too many new recruiting managers rush in and start lots of activity with almost no planning and with little deep understanding of what is expected or possible. Taking it slow the first few days, asking lots of questions, building a level of trust with your recruiters, and showing your boss that you are focused and want to deliver results will go miles and miles toward making you a top performer.