Why Companies Become “Recruiting Challenged”

Great companies with substantial recruiting budgets–offering challenging opportunities, state of the art technologies, competitive salaries, flexible work schedules and all the other new millennium perks–are still finding themselves “recruiting challenged.” They just cannot seem to get the hires. They try to solve the problem by beefing up technology and throwing more money at recruiting events, when in actuality much of the time the problems are readily solvable internally, requiring little additional financial investment, often saving the company money. Here are three of the top reasons why companies become challenged with their recruiting efforts.

  1. Recruiters forget that they are a marketing/sales arm of the company. Recruiting, while it may fall under the Human Resources department is one of the most essential marketing arms of the company. Often companies either do not realize this and they categorize recruiting as the function of the company that processes potential new hires. In reality, the recruiting department and the marketing department have similar position descriptions. The recruiter’s job is to develop and implement strategies that will attract and retain new employees. The marketer’s job is to develop and implement strategies that will attract and retain new customers. Same job, different company products. How can a recruiting department act more like a marketing department? Recruiters can spend time up front planning an integrated strategy to determine exactly who their target market is, what their needs are, how to most effectively reach them and what to say to them to attract them as candidates. So often companies think they do this, but in actuality they don’t. Instead they simply take their budgets, split them by medium (print, Internet, search, job fairs etc..) and then do as they always have done. Post and wait.
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  3. Recruiters post poorly written job ads for the Internet. I am amazed at the number of times I hear companies say that their Internet postings are producing too much garbage and not enough quality. Then I take a look at their job ads on the Internet and compare them to the competition and I say, no wonder. Garbage in, garbage out. Thinking like a marketing department also means producing advertisements that market your opportunity. First, the job title is critical. This is the headliner for the ad. If it doesn’t seduce the candidate to click through to the ad, no amount of advertising dollars are going to help a company get hires. Two common examples of this type of mistake are for software programmers and sales representatives. A job ad title like “programmer/analyst” for a position that offers opportunity for state of the art development of a new exciting product requiring Unix, Java, C and C++, does nothing to attract the right candidate. Similarly, a title like “Sales Representative” for a position that requires high level software/hardware enterprise solutions sales is going to attract people with all types of sales experience, most of it inappropriate for this position. Next, the body of the job ad is also critically important. Once the candidate has clicked on the ad, you have attracted their attention. Now you need to keep it. This requires that the ad be clearly written. The ad should describe the opportunity, how the candidate will contribute to the organization, what specific skills they need to be successful, what the environment is like and what their benefits will be. The goal of the ad is for the candidates to visualize themselves in the position and then apply. The better the ad is written, the more likely the right candidate will apply.
  4. They don’t turn candidates around fast enough. With the lowest unemployment rates in history, time to hire is critical. “Here today, gone today” aptly describes the market for many candidates. Companies have enough trouble attracting candidates to apply for their opportunities, so why they are not immediately contacting those that do apply always amazes me. This bottleneck typically occurs at two points in the recruiting cycle. The first is when the recruiter first receives the resume and the second is when the hiring manager receives the resume. Few excuses for not contacting the candidate within 48 hours of resume receipt are acceptable. Three classic excuses are “We are overwhelmed with resumes and cannot weed through the good from the bad fast enough,” “The hiring manager was traveling and did not get a chance to review the resume,” and “By the time I am done with all my meetings during the day and begin to review resumes, it is too late to contact candidates.” All these issues are valid but they are not acceptable excuses. If a sales representative consistently lost big sales to the competition because the proposals were always being presented too late, what do think would happen to the him/her? The person would lose their job and probably their manager would too. Standards should be no different in recruiting. What are some solutions? First, pre-qualifying resumes does not have to fall solely on the recruiter’s shoulders. Include the functional team members in the review process. Request that the hiring managers dedicate 1-2 hours a week of team members’ time to assist with the pre-qualification. The recruiter is the facilitator to the hiring process, however the hiring team also has accountability and should contribute throughout the process. Assisting with pre-qualification adds value and cuts time out of the process. Second, most people that travel have a laptop or access to a computer or fax machine. There should be no reason why they cannot review a few resumes a day. If hiring top talent is a priority, then 48 hour turnaround should be mandatory. If a manager knows that he/she is going to be unavailable then it is critical that they assign a backup. Typically, by the time the candidate’s resume reaches the desk of the hiring manager, they should have already gone through one telephone screen and are extremely interested in the opportunity. Poor turnaround at this point in the process should never happen. Third, to manage the recruiters time most efficiently, a junior recruiter or recruiting coordinator can make an the initial call to the candidate to set up a convenient time for a telephone screen. This allows the recruiter to schedule specific time periods when they will be talking to candidates and it allows candidates to talk at a time when they are free to have an open conversation. Everyone wins.

Implementing the above recommendations is guaranteed to improve a company’s hit rate on attracting and hiring qualified candidates. They cost little or nothing to implement, and will result in significant time and cost savings in the recruiting process.

Karen Osofsky (karen.o@tiburongroup.com) is a co-founder of TiburonGroup.com, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.

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