Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting

Everything in the world of business changes rapidly. It used to be that a best practice could provide an organization with a competitive advantage for a number of years. But that has all changed with the globalization of the business world and the introduction of amazing new technologies. Because of the increased speed at which other organizations will copy your best practices, it is necessary to speed up the rate of innovation in everything in business. In short, innovation is the last remaining competitive advantage in business ó and HR and recruiting are not exempt from this fact. Perhaps this quote will illustrate the speed in which companies are required to innovate:

Innovation is what is at the foundation of the U.S. economy. Just to give you a simple example of my company…about 90 percent of December revenue comes from products which were not there in January. That sort of innovation, which is a total turnover of our revenue every year, is indicative of what innovation means to us. You miss a cycle of innovation, your revenue disappears.

ó Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel

Rules That Drive Innovation If recruiting doesn’t want to be the slowest car in a fast-moving train of innovation, it must adopt a series of “innovation rules” to live by. They include:

  • Don’t be complacent. Never be satisfied with the status quo, because any competitive advantage you might have will soon be gone.
  • Continuous improvement. Develop programs and practices with a continuous improvement component, so that innovation comes continually.
  • Be paranoid. Assume that your competitors are catching you or even exceeding you in innovative recruiting practices. Assume that, when you can’t see what they are doing, that they are actually ahead of you.
  • Benchmark. Continually benchmark to identify your competitors’ and other top firms’ best practices in recruiting. In addition, look beyond recruiting to marketing, sales, branding, and PR practices that can be transferred into recruiting.
  • Efficiency isn’t enough. Quantum changes in the way you act are required in order to obtain innovation and quantum improvement in your results.

The Time to Innovate in Recruiting Is Now Now that the downturn in the economy is over and the “war for talent” is returning, recruiting departments around the globe are restructuring, rebuilding, and focusing on developing new innovative practices. Because of my extensive contacts and advising work in the industry, I have been able to compile a list of innovative practices and new innovations planned by major Fortune 500 firms. By providing you with my list of current and developing innovations in recruiting, I hope to supply you with some ideas about where your recruiting function needs to be if you expect to remain competitive. There is no room for the complacent. Innovate, or be prepared to lose the coming retention and recruiting war. “You cannot create a high return on investment doing what others are already doing… Innovation is the sole way to survive.” ó Henri Termeer, CEO, Genzyme Corporation It’s always important for recruiting to continually improve and to be prepared to take the next step. Is your organization ready to take the next innovative step in recruiting and talent management? If so, here are some of the most innovative practices that are currently being used (or are being developed) at leading edge Fortune 500 firms. Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting Strategies

  1. Jobs, managers and business units will be prioritized in order to maximize the impact on the business (given the limited resources in recruiting). In addition, a focus on high impact “magnet” and “game changer” hires.
  2. Competitive-intelligence gathering will be added to the goals of corporate recruiting.
  3. All HR functions that are involved with any aspect of the recruiting process will be integrated through common metrics and rewards.
  4. There will be a heavy focus on utilizing the “retired workforce” as contingency workers. In conjunction with that trend, there will be a renewed focus on hiring contingent workers during high growth periods in order to provide flexibility when the downturn occurs.
  5. Additional income will be generated by making recruiting a profit center and selling surplus candidates to non-competitors.
  6. Strategies will be shifted so that most recruiting for key positions begins before the need rather than just responding to recent openings.
  7. Strategies and processes will be developed specifically to target the candidates with the highest potential success rate and to actively discourage the large volume of unwanted and unqualified candidates that typically flood the recruiting process.
  8. Managers will take more ownership and a greater role in recruiting, as more accurate ROI calculations demonstrate the critical impact of recruiting on their business success.

Upcoming Innovations in Sourcing

  1. A laser focus on passives will help attract currently employed top performers (i.e. passive candidates). A specialized team will focus exclusively on passive candidates.
  2. Working with the marketing department, recruiters will utilize “niche” marketing tools, like consumer research data and demographic tools, in order to identify potential candidates from consumer and credit databases. This approach will be especially effective in the important area of diversity recruiting.
  3. A major emphasis on recruiting at industry and functional events, trade shows, seminars, and professional association meetings.
  4. Job descriptions will be rewritten from a marketing perspective and including elements that match a typical candidate’s job acceptance criteria.
  5. The references of successful candidates will be utilized as a source for new high-quality candidates.
  6. “Name generation” firms and direct sourcing will see a rapid increase in utilization from the numerous corporate managers and recruiters that are good at selling, but not identifying, prospective candidates.
  7. The ability of most workers to “work remotely” in any country around the world means that the potential pool of candidates will expand greatly and that a recruiter’s tools and skills will need to reach any country around the world.
  8. There will be a renewed focus on rehiring top performing employees that left the firm (“boomerangs”).

Upcoming Innovations in Employee Referrals

  1. There will be an emphasis on proactive referrals, where top performers are approached directly for names.
  2. Firms will use search software (e.g. ActiveNet) to search their internal email and document databases for employees that have relationships with targeted individuals or firms.
  3. Referrals will be expanded to non-employees, former employees, and even candidates.
  4. Referral parties will be held on site in order to sell the very best on your firm’s jobs and your company
  5. The focus of referral programs will be shifted toward diversity recruiting.

Upcoming Innovations in Employment Branding

  1. Recruiters will work with their company’s product branding department to develop a joint strategy for building the employment brand to create a long-term stream of candidates.
  2. Recruiting will work with PR to increase the exposure of the firm’s managers and management practices in order to develop a “well-managed firm” image.
  3. Companies will place a premium on getting listed on best-place-to-work lists ó not just in the U.S., but around the world.
  4. There will be an increase in the use of employment brand building TV ads as well as company-focused TV shows (the Apprentice, Airline, Caesars) to build a company’s employment brand.

Upcoming Innovations in Candidate Assessment and Interviewing

  1. Recruiting departments will begin a shift to a customer relationship management (CRM) model, in order to build continuous relationships with top candidates.
  2. Enhancing the candidate’s experience, in order to avoid the negative impacts on your image that result from poor candidate treatment and a lack of responsiveness, will become a top priority as the power shifts to the candidates.
  3. Firms will develop a “candidate bill of rights” to ensure that candidates are treated like customers rather than commodities.
  4. Firms will employ online assessments of a candidate’s “soft” competencies using validated soft skills tests.
  5. Online simulations and contests will be used to assess a candidate’s technical skills.
  6. Companies will use permanent hiring and/or closing teams that possess the necessary experience and skills to dramatically improve candidate acceptance rates.
  7. Video-conference interviews will be accepted as the standard process for interviewing all but finalist candidates. Although video interviews are not new, they will soon make a permanent comeback.

Upcoming Innovations in Technology and Corporate Websites

  1. Using Google-type searches, recruiters will identify potential passive candidates without posted resumes and also gather background information that can be used to qualify them as a potential candidate.
  2. Managers will take more ownership and a greater role in recruiting because of new technologies that provide managers with laptop access to recruiting information and tools.
  3. Corporate career websites will have the ability to “morph,” so that the information provided to different candidates changes to fit their unique needs.
  4. Firms will identify and link to the learning sites that the best candidates visit on a regular basis to improve their job knowledge. By linking to these learning sites, companies can identify and attract the most desirable candidates who are continually learning.
  5. Candidates will be able to visit a password-protected corporate website that will allow them to track their progress during the selection process.
  6. The online self scheduling of candidate interviews will become standard practice.
  7. The same search engines tools and strategies that are effective for external hires will also be applied internally to speed up the internal placement and redeployment of your employees. By identifying talent and moving people faster internally, you will be able to dramatically reduce retention problems while simultaneously increasing productivity by ensuring that the right workers are in the right job.
  8. Soon more sophisticated fuzzy logic systems will, once you identify your skills and interests, select an initial job automatically and then “find” other “similar jobs” using the same process that Amazon.com currently utilizes to refer other relevant books to clients. This smart system will allow candidates to search for jobs without knowing the precise title or having to search through each of the individual geographic location sub-pages.

Upcoming Innovations in Candidate Closing

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  1. Exploding offers that reward candidates for fast decision-making will become common.
  2. Tailoring a candidate’s offer to ensure that it directly meets the candidate’s job acceptance criteria will become the norm.
  3. Surveying candidates who rejected an offer three months later will become, in order to identify the “real” reasons that they rejected your offer.
  4. Peer interviews will be utilized to better sell the candidate.

Upcoming Innovations in College Recruiting

  1. There will be shift away from physically visiting schools, towards remote college recruiting where candidates are identified and assessed using technology and the Internet.
  2. There will be an increased use of online contests to attract and assess potential hires.
  3. There will be an increased use of metrics in order to demonstrate when and where college hiring has a positive ROI.
  4. Firms will look at “non-name” schools as a primary source for candidates.

Upcoming Innovations in Orientation

  1. Firms will convert orientation into a “new hire experience” in order to minimize a new hires “time to minimum expected productivity”
  2. Remote orientation using Internet video technology will make individualized orientation possible at anytime.
  3. Firms will require recruiters to follow up with new hires for six months after their start date in order to improve new hire retention rates.
  4. Firms will ask new hires during orientation which sales points worked and which didn’t in attracting them and convincing them to accept the job.

Upcoming Innovations in Metrics

  1. All recruiting metrics will be converted into “dollar impacts” and ROI, because both are easily understood and compared. An additional emphasis will be placed on demonstrating the correlation between great recruiting and an individual manager’s success in producing business results in order to motivate managers to pay attention to recruiting. Metrics will also be used to correlate effective recruiting with an increase in the company’s stock price.
  2. Metrics will dominate as recruiting functions shift towards a “Moneyball” approach to recruiting.
  3. “Quality of hire” (on-the-job performance of new hires) will emerge as dominant among all recruiting metrics.
  4. There will be a focus on identifying the sourcing channels that produce new hires with the highest on-the-job performance and retention rates.
  5. Both candidate and manager satisfaction will be periodically measured in order to continually improve the candidate experience and the offer acceptance rate.
  6. An overall “recruiting index” will be utilized in order to easily make performance comparisons between managers and business units.
  7. Metrics will be used to alert managers of upcoming problems and opportunities in recruiting and retention.

Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting Processes and Structure

  1. Individual managers will be measured and rewarded based on their recruiting and retention performance.
  2. Competitive analysis and side-by-side comparisons of your practices compared to your talent competitors’ practices will be used in order to develop and maintain a competitive advantage.
  3. Firms will add a required element to the recruiting process to capture the candidate’s job acceptance criteria early in the recruiting process.
  4. Service level agreements will become the norm in order to ensure that both managers and recruiting know and do their part.
  5. Six Sigma tools will be used to identify errors, and “feedback loops” will be used to continually improve the recruiting process.
  6. More sales, marketing and “headhunter type” people will be hired into recruiting.
  7. There will be a “loosening up” the recruiting process to allow more innovative and creative candidates to pass through.
  8. Recruiters and recruiting resources will be utilized internally in order to speed up the internal movement and redeployment of high potential and under-utilized employees.
  9. There will be a shift away from the traditional reporting relationship to HR; instead, recruiting will report directly to talent management, marketing or potentially even becoming an independent function.
  10. Recruiting budgets will be initially allocated and later tracked to ensure that rewards, recruiter time, and budget allocations match the targeted goals of the department and the prioritized jobs and business units the department has decided to focus on (to ensure that the goals get translated into practice).
  11. Internal recruiters will receive bonuses (as they do in executive search firms) based on placements and quality of hire statistics.
  12. Hiring speed and having a one-day hiring capability will become essential in order to get top candidates during periods of low unemployment.
  13. Recruiting and recruiters will be dispersed around the world in order to ensure a 24/7 service and a global hiring capability.
  14. There will be an increased emphasis on accurately “forecasting” upcoming labor shortages and surpluses around the world using data mining and regression analysis.

Hot Trends in Recruiting That Will Fade in the Near Future

  • The use of social networks in recruiting
  • The thought that applicant tracking systems will make a quantum impact on an individual firm’s recruiting results
  • Outsourcing exempt and professional recruiting
  • The popularity of large Internet job boards

Conclusion I hope you found these innovations in recruiting both interesting and helpful in developing your future approach to recruiting. It is important to remind you that although at the present time these are relatively unique practices, you should expect them to become commonplace in the next few years.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



15 Comments on “Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting

  1. Gotta love Dr. John’s column today. The comprehensive lists grouped by recruiting function segment that he compiled are eye-popping (inspiring or daunting, depending on your perspective).

    The devil is in the details, however. When he says these ‘are some of the most innovative practices that are currently being used (or are being developed) at leading edge Fortune 500 firms,’ I wonder:

    1) How many are currently being done vs. being developed? (You’d need to go across almost all of the F500 to say you’re achieving most of these, and I suspect Dr. John didn’t survey THAT widely, but relatively few firms are needed if you just transcribe their wish lists into an ERE column.)

    2) All the ideas sound great, but most have a high cost in dollars and/or time that relatively few firms can afford (unless they adopt the big mindset change re: innovation that Dr. John advocates). So which ones generate the best ROI?

    3) Dr. John predicts several hot trends will fade, two of which were the use of social networks in recruiting and the popularity of large Internet job boards. It’s interesting that he’s predicting the decline for an industry that only just started (didn’t Jobster launch just 2 weeks ago?). Social networks in general have been around for a couple of years, but we don’t know what they will evolve into yet, so perhaps he means they’ll fade if they remain basically what they are today. That I would apply to the large job boards, also.

    However, these tools will continue to have value for those who best know how to use them. (I am still amazed at how many job board postings sound like they were written by hopelessly bored and depressed corporate bureaucrats and who spend only a fraction of that effort on resume searching within the same sites and leveraging referrals from same. No wonder those companies aren’t jazzed about their results!)

    But he was writing for the ERE audience, and this crowd is ahead of the curve in most respects, so if something hot fades, it probably will happen here first. But remember that most bleeding edge fashionistas who toss their wardrobe in the goodwill bin each new season also will grudgingly admit that most money in the fashion industry is made shipping re-orders of last year’s proven styles.

  2. The purpose of all this innovation in recruitment is a red herring. Let?s get straight to the point here. It?s not about finding the best candidates but about trying to save money.

    Companies are looking to find new ways to recruit that cut out third party recruiters and headhunters because of the cost and frankly the resentment some of them have in paying for it. They think they can do it better internally. Employing failed recruiters or Headhunters is always a bad sign. I say failed because if you are successful at this job, you rarely want to leave it.

    I counted 73 items on this list. Can you imagine the cost to implement all of these? A lot of the items should already be part of the process. Others will never get off the ground.

    Rather than trying to do our job for us, Companies should focus on training their staff to work with top recruiters and search companies to maximize the process. This should include paying a fair fee rather than as little as possible, training all staff on how to interview effectively and appreciating that when we work together, we do add true value to their business.

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for the great article. This was just the overview I needed to get ‘into the loop’ and see what’s hot and what’s not.

    I’d like to know what gives you the impression that large job boards will become less popular in the near future. As far as I see it at the moment, most of the people go to them, because there is the biggest offer and – from a candidate point of view – there are not so many of them who know the smaller ones.

    Perhaps that’s a stupid question, but please bear with me. 😉 I’m new to this.

    I’m looking forward to your next article. Thanks for taking the time to tell us.

    Greetings from Germany,


  4. First and foremost, I have to say I think this is a great article. Some of these issues we are currently embracing and others are still under consideration/evaluation.

    No, I don’t agree with everything he wrote. I rather suspect most people like some pieces of it, some don’t like other pieces, and every spectrum in between. I read some of his points as affirmation of efforts within our team as well as perhaps some check-points to consider.

    With respect to Anthony’s comments, I have to disagree with a few of them. I don’t see improvements to the recruiting function as a red herring. Every function should always be looking to find ways to improve and be more effective in driving the success of their business.

    Yes, part of the impetus behind improving processes, strategies and tactics is the desire to better manage cost. Sort of a blinding flash of the obvious to me. However, it is neither the sole nor the predominant driver.

    To try and define corporate recruiters as ‘failed headhunters’ is hyperbolic and inflammatory at best. Certainly a debate I would be willing to have in a different venue. That said, I certainly have no qualms working with, and paying, professional TPR’s because they can and do add value in certain situations.

    I use articles such as this to help me keep focused on growth, change and enhancement as a professional recruiter…who happens to be a Corporate recruiter. Articles like this help me keep on my toes and remember to be creative and forward thinking. I even use these ideas to educate my clients and stakeholders (internal AND external).

    Just my thoughts.

  5. Just to clarify a few of my earlier points and make a few more.

    I don’t see improvements to the recruitment function as a Red Herring either if they improve the ability to hire the best candidates. The innovations ‘mentioned’ are all about doing it in house and the reasons for this come down to not wanting to pay fees.

    Cost is always the predominant driver when considering using a recruiter or a headhunter. We deal with it every day with potentially new clients. ‘How much do you charge?’ not ‘How good are you?’

    I referred specifically to the ‘purpose’ of the innovations mentioned in the article. I’m all for improvements but lets be clear about the purpose.

    If the purpose is to hire the best without cost being a concern, why try to do it internally at all? A third party recruiter or headhunter is in a infinitely better position to attract the best candidates.

    We offer the candidates confidentiality, variety of opportunities, advice on careers, their true financial worth including salary without bias, the ability to negotiate the best deal and they can say no without committing themselves to any potential Employer.

    I deal with many ‘passive’ candidates across Europe every day that would not talk directly to a Client in the first instance. They need time to consider their options and the opportunity before opening any direct contact. They would certainly never reply to an ad or job board.

    I did not try and define corporate recruiters as ‘failed headhunters’. A lot of Corporate Recruiters have not been Third Party Recruiters or Headhunters.

    I was referring to the not so new ‘innovation’ of hiring Recruiters or Headhunters to work internally. I do not believe you could attract a successful recruiter or headhunter to work internally.

    Being an independent and impartial industry or sector expert is crucial to being successful in this game. You cannot be this if you only wear one hat. We thrive on variety and being able to represent new companies and challenges.

    Working together is the key to success. When the lines of expertise cross over you get an inbalance and clearly some misunderstanding but hopefully a healthy discussion.

  6. Anthony,

    Not all TPR’s bring value to an organization. Unfortunately, you must deal with the reputations of those TPR’s that jump on the ‘new’ revenue bandwagon and then proceed to fail miserably. I am in healthcare and it never ceases to amaze me how many TPR’s become overnight experts in healthcare just to get in on the healthcare shortage. I am sure that other industries see the same response.

    I think it is interesting that you say the first question is ‘How much are your fees’ rather than ‘How good are you.’ That doesn’t surprise me. Most organizations that don’t budget for the use of TPR’s will always ask that question, especially in healthcare where margins are as thin as tissue paper. I personally always budget some $$ for TPR’s as I realistically understand that we cannot fill all of our needs internally.

    I think if you are going to be in the business it’s important to understand both sides of the equation in order to be successful.

    Just my thoughts.


    Yes, let’s be clear about the purpose of all this innovation in recruiting.

    THE PURPOSE: To improve the recruiting profession, both Corporate and TPR, and provide the best talent to hiring managers.

    Contrary to some of the posts in this thread the purpose of Dr. Sullvan’s article on innovation in recruiting IS about finding the best candidates. Having had the honor of spending time talking with John Sullivan there is absolutely no doubt that he clearly seeks to drive recruiting, both TPR and Corporate, to a higher level of performance. He challenges everything about traditional HR style recruiting and ruffles the feathers of every HR type recruiter who prefers to sit idly by their desk waiting for something to happen. He is a self proclaimed provocateur. The innovations Dr. Sullivan mentions are about doing it in house and NO the reasons do not simply come down to not wanting to pay fee?s. It is much more complex and important than just that.

    It?s not just about saving money. It?s about internal corporate recruiters finally getting their act together and doing what they could and should do for themselves ? find great talent and get them to their company. As a former successful TPR I was always amazed that my clients were paying me, quite well I might add, to do their job for them. I could never understand why their recruiters couldn?t learn the techniques I used and execute them daily. I realized they were inept but also knew that the strategies, techniques and methodologies I emplyed as a TPR would work in corporate environment if you hired, coached and developed the right recruiting talent (sales/marketing professionals or former TPR).

    Performance, loosely defined, is the act of doing something successfully. Most often the emphasis in defining performance is on the best result or highest producing result. This is obvious and true but is really only half of what performance is. The other half of this truth is that any person or company who takes their performance seriously looks to improve performance outcomes/results while increasing efficiency. Part of efficiency is reducing expense. This is business 101.

    Right thinking corporate recruiters do not simply want to cut costs they want to improve performance (better qualified candidates) and efficiency (reduced expense, deliver qualified candidates more quickly). There is a HUGE difference between these two goals. While I agree that there are plenty of recruiters, both corporate and TPR, who simply look at cost or how to make a buck, there are plenty of others who realize their true value ? delivering a high quality product in the form of well qualified, high performing, career change ready candidates.

    The truth is that some in house corporate recruiting functions, who have a very well defined recruiting model and strategy, are equally as effective as some TPR. In fact, some of us, are far more effective than most TPR.

    Yes there are 73 items on Dr. Sullivan?s list. They are not all expensive to implement. Many of the innovations he talks about can be done with little or no money. We have effectively implemented many of the ideas and are well on our way towards implementing others ? YES they can get off the ground with visionary leadership and passionate recruiters who know what they are doing. I can?t expound much more than that without relinquishing competitive advantage. Suffice to say, if a recruiting/talent acquisition function in a mid sized, middle America corporation such as ours in one of the most traditionally conservative and innovation-less industries (banking) can do it ? almost any one can with proper passion and recruiting leadership.

    Someone here asked the QUESTION ? ?If the purpose is to hire the best without cost being a concern, why try to do it internally at all??

    ANSWER ? Because in some circumstances, certainly here at FirstMerit, you can hire the best without having to pay the fee of a TPR. I would argue it can often be done more effectively and efficiently (time) as well.

    It is an incredibly huge generalization to state that ?A third party recruiter or headhunter is in an infinitely better position to attract the best candidates.? Again, not true and certainly not true at FirstMerit.

    We too offer candidates confidentiality, a variety of opportunities (both here at FMER and at other companies if they don?t match FMER), we are consultants who offer extremely sound advice on careers, we also discuss their true financial worth (without inflating it for the purpose of collecting a larger fee which some TPR?s do), and our candidates can say no to us and not feel committed to us or burn a bridge. I have several stories of candidates who have declined job offers yet we continued to have long term relationships with them that produced more referrals and ultimately led to the the person joining FMER.

    We deal with passive candidates every day that would prefer to talk directly to a Talent Acquisition Consultant here at FMER rather than a TPR. If I had a dime for every time a candidate asked one of my team ?So you are not a search firm or headhunter? You actually work at FMER?? and upon hearing the answer of YES we hear ?well that is good, I don?t want to work with a headhunter.? We are in the unique position of being owners of the company; share holders who have a vested interest in acquiring the right talent for our organization. We are in a better position than a TPR to identify, recruit, consult and hire the best talent for FirstMerit because we work here. We give them all the time they want to consider their options because we know it takes a RELATIONSHIP and a compelling opportunity before they will want to leave. We maintain those relationships over time so when the right opportunity presents itself we are in the unique position to leverage it.

    I am a former TPR. A very successful TPR in both contingency and retained search. I am not here to discuss my success and war stories from TPR but given my experience and success and the success of my team, I do resent anyone claiming that a successful TPR wouldn?t go into corporate recruiting. The reasons why I am in house now are infinite ? too long of a list to bring up here. Suffice to say that I have attracted other very successful TPR?s to work on my team. I am not going to divulge how because, again, it is what gives us competitive advantage. It is simply NOT true to state that a you can not get a a successful recruiter or headhunter to work internally. We have done it and we have a world class recruiting function as a result.

    On a related topic the recruiting industry is in dire need of recruiters who are passionate and zealous about recruiting. Not internal HR recruiters who just want to cut costs or a TPR who just wants to make as much money as they can. Call me the Jerry Maguire of talent acquisitoin if you will, but it is not all about money. I can hear the scene in the movie now ?fewer clients ? less money?

    I want recruiters who LOVE recruiting. Who respect their profession and have a fire in their belly for what they do. Put the money, prestige and fame aside (oh yeah, there is no prestige and fame in our business)?.if you are recruiting because you love it, because you have a passion for it then you would do it for free.

    Back to the craft!

  8. Can I just say what a great environment this is at ERE to be able to have these discussions with other professionals from around the world.

    I read the last response with great interest and can’t help but think the issues coming out are starting to identify some of the true problems that exist between Corporate Recruiters and TPRs.

    The issue about the real purpose of the innovations is interesting because although we are led to believe that they are aimed at both TPR and Corporate, they are still about doing it in house.

    It’s also interesting to gauge the difference in mindset between a TPR and a Corporate Recruiter.

    When I’m recruiting for a Client, I’m not doing their job for them, I’m doing my job for them. That’s what they pay me for. It’s their choice to engage me.

    One comment was “We too offer candidates confidentiality, a variety of opportunities (both here at FMER and at other companies if they don’t match FMER), we are consultants who offer extremely sound advice on careers.”

    This is good but you are only in a position to offer sound career advice regarding your own company.

    The main issue is that the purpose of these innovations is really to save fees and the hang ups companies can have about paying them.

    Despite stating that the reasons do not simply come down to not wanting to pay fees, there are a number of contradictions that would suggest that it is the main reason.

    Part of efficiency is reducing expense. – (Reducing expense means reducing search fees.)

    ? you can hire the best without having to pay the fee of a TPR.

    ?..without inflating it for the purpose of collecting a larger fee which some TPR’s do.

    ?…or a TPR who just wants to make as much money as they can

    ?…if you are recruiting because you love it, because you have a passion for it then you would do it for free.

    Perhaps this is why TPRs are expected to work for nothing 🙂

    If you don’t love your job, you are in the wrong profession but whatever you do for a living you don’t do it for free. I would guess that even the author of this comment earns a salary and does not work for free.

    I believe all this emphasises my point and perhaps starts to unravel the true issues. These are what need addressing before any new innovations are thought of.

    As this is moving away from the original theme in this forum, I thought it would be a good idea to start a new one, which I have now done called “A TPRs should be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

    Internal recruiters should be responsible for recruiting by advertising through web pages and job boards. They should be educating Line Managers on interviewing and helping them assess candidates. They should be identifying and building relationships with TPRs. Headhunting should be left to the TPR. It’s more professional.

    If you are having a bad experience with a TPR, then stop using them and find one that can add value to your business. But be prepared to pay a reasonable fee.

    Engaging a TPR at the cheapest possible rate will always give you a bad experience. You do get what you pay for. Before pushing the fee as low as possible, ask yourself this question. “What do I want them to do for me, as little as they can get by with or as much as possible?”

    Once you have moved on from the fee and it is fair to both parties, you can work together to find the best candidates. Now suddenly you are only competing with your competition for candidates and not the TPR. You will also get access to many more candidates through the TPR and additional expert advice.

    One more thought about innovation and process. Don’t get too bogged down in it all. Sometimes you can’t beat the greatest innovation of them all “Just Do It”. While some people are strategizing, trying to implement innovations, filling in research forms and following systems, the headhunter has been and gone. They have already called the candidate, got the CV and arranged an interview.

  9. I am going to end my comments in this thread with a few final statements.

    Headhunting should NOT be left just to TPR’s. What one commentator profers in this thread is to relegate the recruiter inside of a corporation to a paper pushing process administrator. Run ads, post on job boards and faciliate the interview process they say. In other words keep going after the active non-performing talent and let me do the real recruiting of passive high performing talent. Does anyone else out there find this to be a bit condescending? You can’t do what I do so just help me collect fee’s.

    If you are acting in this way as a recruiter what value do you bring to your company if that is how you perform? NONE! Which is why most TPR’s want you to behave this way. Sadly, this is exactly what many in the HR world have done. They have abdicated the identifaction and selection of talent to others.

    At FirstMerit, we have moved the Talent Acquisition function away from the HR function and operate our talent acquisition team like a business. It CAN be done! We are about results NOT process and never turn over the incredible responsibility of getting talent to our organization to someone who has no vested interest in improving shareholder value.

    Here at FirstMerit, we have proven that in house ‘headhunting’ works as effectively or more effectively than TPR’s. Again, I have sat on both sides of the desk and agree TPR’s have a valuable place in the talent acquisition process, especially as the labor shortage intensifies the war for talent.

    I think the real issue is the difference between an HR Recruiter who focuses on process and paper and a true Talent Acquisition Consultant who operates like a headhunter and consults with candidates on the best career for them. Sometimes the best career for them is here at FirstMerit. Sometimes it isn’t.

    We do not simply offer career advice on FirstMerit…we offer career advice PERIOD. If they don’t fit here, we discuss what types of industries and/or companies will make better use of their talent. We then market (mpc from my search days) these candidates to those companies. It is all about helping people with their career, either here or at FirstMerit.

    Take a look at the list of winners at this years ERE Expo and Awards ceremony and you will find that many of them have moved the majority of their recruiting in house and utilize search firm techniques.

    One thing remains true of all arguments here. Recruiting MUST get better. Sadly, most corporate HR Recruiters are ill equipped to win the war for talent and do what they could and should do for their company. They weren’t trained and taught how to find passive talent, perform candidate development, engage in candidate counseling and make a placement of value. They will continue to abdicate responsibility and hire TPR’s to do it for them. Which is exactly what the third party industry is banking on!

  10. This topic is evergreen for a good reason- TPR’s and Corps share a symbiotic relationship that offers both cooperative and antagonistic elements depending on the precise situation.

    Michael makes great points (and practices them) around the topic of the separation of true recruitment in his organization from the more reactive form of HR processing that many Corps perceive as being done by ?recruiters?.

    That?s music to my ears, as was Dr. Sullivan?s article, because our solutions have always been built around the idea that recruitment and applicant tracking are NOT the same thing, and while you can often do good applicant tracking with recruiting software, there is no good way to recruit with ?pure? applicant tracking software. How to tell the difference? Recruiting software will have robust CRM functions for starters. Another critical difference is the way the system deals with outside organizations; recruitment software is designed to track to who, what, when, where, and how of competing ? target? or ? benchmark? organizations as well as tracking activities within your own organization. There are many more- but that’s for another post.

    This idea leads to a point not often mentioned about the existence of TPR?s and why in some senses they are irreplaceable; in the ?war? for talent, TPR?s serve as ?neutral? ground for both candidates and organizations. ABC Corp cannot make an everyday practice of directly raiding XYZ Corp and vice versa; not only would both organizations harden themselves against specific attack from the other, the costs of actually doing it would be high due to the inevitable requirement to change personnel, venue, etc., and that’s not even reflective of the potential legal complications arising from anything but the most structured and controlled effort.

    At their best, TPR?s serve as ?honest brokers?; Michael engages in part of that role by offering objective advice and counseling to his candidates. TPR?s can do the same on an organizational basis; TPR?s often know more about what goes on in various organizations than they do themselves, not only because they are free of the political constraints existing within any organization but also because they cultivate long-term and discreet relationships with important players. No need to touch on what TPR?s can be at their worst, only to say that some corporate employment practices are probably equally distasteful.

    As in any other field, performing ethically and fairly beating good competition requires courage, discipline, and a holistic view of the game; First Merit is doing well and gathering kudos by undertaking many of Dr. Sullivan’s prescriptions. But not all, or even many, organizations will rise to that standard. Michael is dealing from a position of strength and high selectivity on that level; leading to my last comment on this post; regarding active v. passive candidates.

    There was a recent thread exploring this idea in detail, but put simply; there are good active candidates and good passive candidates- each person is unique and brings a unique fit of attributes to an organization. There are many poor performers currently well positioned, while there are many top performers who by happenstance are seeking new roles because of M&A, family changes, lifecycle changes, and sheer luck. In the war for talent, it may pay to find effective reasons to be inclusive, rather than rule of thumb reasons to be exclusive.

  11. This is where the problems lie. It?s nothing to do with the original subject of innovation unless it helps to cut out TPRs and ?stop them from collecting their fees.?

    To be a good headhunter is about networking with contacts over a period of time. It?s about candidates and clients trusting your judgement on an opportunity or candidate because being independent, you have an outside-in view of the sector you work in. It?s the difference between standing back from the tree and seeing the whole tree rather than only being able to see the branch you are sitting on or looking out from.

    An HR professional that recognises this, is not abdicating the identification and selection of talent to others, but working in a much more effective manner. It?s not about relegating internal staff, but utilising them better. They are using the correct process for the correct job. They know that they will get access to more candidates this way and they are acting in a more acceptable and professional manner. Why do companies bother using outsourcing on any aspect of their business?

    On a final note, headhunting passive candidates is a very sensitive practice and needs to be handled with absolute care and confidentiality. A lot of companies frown on the practice and having seen the way some headhunters operate, I?m not surprised. But to protect any Corporate Company?s credibility and business ethics, it should always be conducted through a third party. If anyone wants to be a headhunter, then work for one.

  12. I feel compelled to jump in here again. One thing seems quite clear – Anthony appears convinced that the only reason internal/Corporate Recruiters would seek to evolve/improve/innovate is to cut TPR’s out of the picture. If that is his perspective, then so be it.

    What is also clear is that many Corporate Recruiters take a much different view of the intent of innovation, and of the intent of a Corporate Recruiter’s role.

    I continue to disagree with Anthony’s assertion – ‘It?s nothing to do with the original subject of innovation unless it helps to cut out TPRs and ?stop them from collecting their fees.? and ‘Internal recruiters should be responsible for recruiting by advertising through web pages and job boards. They should be educating Line Managers on interviewing and helping them assess candidates. They should be identifying and building relationships with TPRs. Headhunting should be left to the TPR. It’s more professional.’

    Reducing cost IS a germane business objective. But I simply cannot make the leap that reducing cost is the same as completely eliminating a value added resource. The key being value-added of course. There will always be a role for the use of TPR’s. The difference is whether or not an organization chooses to rely solely on TPR’s for attracting talent, or if they look to their Corporate Recruiters to do more then push paper and manage project/process work.

    As to a TPR use being more professional then actually having the Corporate Recruiter do recruiting – I vigorously disagree. Simply being a TPR (or Corporate Recruiter for that matter) in and of itself does not afford one the status of professional. How many people do you know that jump into the business thinking it is easy money only to learn that truly professional recruiters actually work damn hard? Look at the attrition rate and that should tell you something.

    Forward thinking companies expect more. Forward thinking Corporate Recruiters deliver more.

    As a corporate recruiter I also am keenly focused on serving the needs of my clients (each hiring manager is a client, you see). I have to know how to deliver the critical talent that matches their needs. As a Corporate Rectruiter there is not one homogeneous ‘talent profile’ I work against. Each role has its specific needs and is influenced by the specific hiring manager and their management and work style.

    I also cultivate long term relationships with the talented people within the industry in which I work. It is about establishing credibility and trust so that when I do approach someone about an opportunity in Pfizer, they can feel confident that it meshes with their career needs as well as serving the business needs of Pfizer.

    Trust, credibility, judgement, sensitivity, confidentially, ethics – these are hardly the sole province of the TPR.

    I am a headhunter. I also happen to be a Corporate Recruiter. That is why I was hired (and why I was interested in becoming a Corporate Recruiter). I also work quite well with those TPR’s that have demonstrated value.

    Do I watch my expenses? You betcha! Part of my job is to manage my role and my team as a business and to steward the shareholder value to the best of my ability. If that means paying a TPR when they add value, I will. If it means doing recruiting more effectively then a TPR, I do.

    Innovation is about recognizing when, where, and what to change – and what to leave alone.

    It is all about doing what brings the best talent to the business.

  13. This thread is of particular interest to me. I?ve had numerous conversations with vendors and the organizations that use their products in the last few months and one thing is becoming more and more clear every day. The line between Corporate Recruiting and Third Party Recruiting is blurring more and more every day. CR?s and TPR?s (I?ve been on both sides) used to very clearly define where that line was. When I was a TPR there was little doubt in my mind as to where most CR?s drew the line. Usually it ended up right where it started getting ?dirty?. Loosely translated that used to mean actually headhunting out of the competition. Often times I used to get lists of ?ideal? candidates names from competitors that needed to be targeted for whatever the reason. There were usually very specific instructions from the client not to attach their name to the search in any way until the candidate agreed to consider the opportunity.
    My my my, how times have changed. I?m hearing more and more from CR?s who seem to have built a staffing model built on the platform of a blended approach. The net result seems to be less dependency on TPR?s for volume (CR?s are that much more effective now at finding the low hanging fruit) and more reliance on specialized expertise at finding the hard to find expertise. That doesn?t necessarily translate in to passive vs. active either. Passive candidates aren?t that as elusive to CR?s as they used to be. In fact with many CR?s who have come from the TPR world it?s second nature. With organizations more focused on building a true internal staffing department and not so concerned with developing a reputation for headhunting out of their competition it has created an interesting shift in the market.
    Perhaps one of the largest opportunities for vendors who supply talent management systems is the now widening gap between the needs of the corporation for the basics with some decent workflow management and ? that of the actual user who is now much more active with candidate relationship management. CRM, in it?s most basic from provides the ability to track the basics of sourcing. From the time you actually source nothing more than a name you should have the capability to track that name from its origin to the completion of the search and beyond. Some would call that contact management much like what most TPR?s do with Outlook or ACT (or my favorite ? Maximizer). Having worked for one of the better known vendors out there (Taleo from ?99 ? 03) known for it?s thought leading approach as well as keeping a close eye on the rest of them for the last 2 years in my current position I can tell you from having seen all of these products first hand that none of them are even close to developing the contact management functionality necessary. While this shift has been taking place for the better part of 5 years now none of these vendors has picked up on this simple fact. It seems that they are more focused on trying to stick their chest out with their ?We?re better because?? approach or defining the granular details of their user interface or new search engine instead of looking beyond the obvious to see that you can?t truly say you are an ?end to end? product unless you truly have a way to track the most basic piece of information ? a name. That doesn?t mean a profile attached to a job description or a resume. It?s simple really and has been done well for years. The good news is there are a few who are thinking about it or talking about it. I hope it goes without saying that technology does not a good recruiter make?it is just another tool in your toolbox.
    While this is a basic fundamental gap I am by no way implying that this is the only thing that will acknowledge the shift currently taking place. It does speak to the noise that?s out there that has many in the corporate world shifting focus and making decisions to re think the way they approach the current and pending employment market. There are many more options out there to choose from. RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) is one of them and the organization that doesn?t make the leap to redefining their staffing process to take more of a blended approach to sourcing will have little choice and may find the only way to accomplish their staffing goals is to outsource their sourcing strategy and lose control of the one activity that truly has value beyond the obvious.

    OK I?m off my soapbox now and back to work?

  14. Dr. Sullivan,
    excellent Article, there is much to be said for many of the points you have made.

    Your article does drive across the need for recruiters to honing their skills, and move back to the old way of recruiting ? Networking via phone, attending trade functions, attending the meetings, public speaking, and such like. It is about the recruiter once again gaining back the professional reputation allowing clients and candidates to respect their value and worth, instead of looking at us as the necessary evil.

    Recent research with candidates have also led me to believe that the job board will truly become a thing of the past one day ? more and more I have heard many people state that they do not want to put their name or personal information on the world wide web.
    Many of the skilled individuals are learning also about the fair game of networking, they are becoming smarter. It truly does come down that the ideal candidate is generally working, and even when they are not, they are using research to look for jobs ? to find them we do have to dig up the needle in the haystack the old fashioned way. That alone is a skill, Networking takes a particular type of personality, one that has to gain a tough skin for the I can?t help you?s and the personal act of allowing people to be able to trust you when all you are is a voice on the phone.

    For a long time I have always considered the Corp Recruiter or the Sourcer as a threat to the TPR, will they replace what we do? Was a question I always feared. The same had been thought of the internet, but having the opt. of speaking to both the corp recruiter and the sourcer, as well as reading much that has been said on this forum, I have come to understand that we all have a place in this recruiting world. Today I will focus on the TPR and Corp Recruiter based on this message

    For some of the working candidates I have spoken to, they are nervous to speak to the corp recruiter, they are nervous that their boss may find out ? small industry- they are more comfortable with the headhunter, they many also be glad that the headhunter will have more than one opt. for them with several companies, and since they are dealing with the hiring manager directly will respect their need for privacy. Then again there are candidates who feel comfortable knowing that the company is directly speaking with them, and may be interested in hearing only about that one position, and may also feel safer knowing that their information is only going to one place.

    TPR?s and Corp Recruiters each have their own purpose. It is imperative that we learn to get along with each other, look at each other as friendly competitors who could possibly be able to assist each other on searches even.

    Another thing – To say that we TPR will be eliminated one day is an interesting perspective and one that I cannot agree with. With the market improving, I have seen more and more jobs on my desk this last mth alone ? more than I can handle, and they have come from companies with internal recruiters as well as from those who feel that it is ethically incorrect to directly recruit from their competition. I have heard the same from other TPR?s as well.

    TPR?s can be considered expensive, and Yes some companies will try to eliminate much of the use of Recruiters, and maybe due to our expense, but at the end of the day it is nice to remember that the TPR?s expense is Tax deductible, no overhead comes with it, nor any employee liability.

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