Why Recruiters Are Even More Important Now That the Recovery Is Finally Here

This was going to be an article on how to systematize one-on-one recruiter skills. It would have included topics like how to increase your effectiveness with hiring managers and how to become more of a career counselor to top candidates. With this information, recruiters would control every aspect of the hiring process ó placing more top people more quickly. Hiring managers would trust their judgment and top candidate would never voluntarily opt-out of the process, even if they had other opportunities. I was then going to show how these one-on-one skills could effectively be tied together into a seamless recruiting process. Now, that would have been a great article. It still will be ó but not today. Something more important just happened that needs your attention. You might have caught this headline: July 31, 2003. Gross domestic product jumped to 2.4% in 2Q from 1.4% in 1Q. Weekly jobless claims stay below 400,000. A key manufacturing index rises strongly. Also: Mortgage rates hit 9-month highs. Paradoxically, the implication of this makes recruiting one-on-one skills even more important. Here’s why: From a hiring systems and recruiting perspective, July 31, 2003, was the last day we had to get a jumpstart on the recovery. Hiring is about to take off, and from now on we’ll be reacting to events as they unfold. As a result, strategically, what everyone does to get ready for the impending recovery and hiring boom should be number one on the priority list. Number two will be a tactic. If you’re a CEO, line manager, recruiting manager, or an HR executive, it’s to make sure you have the best recruiters working for you who know one-on-one recruiter skills. They’ll be the key to every company’s ability to hire top talent during the first phase of the recovery. Even those who have delayed implementing any new advanced hiring programs due to lack of budget, time, resources, etc., can still come out heroes if they immediately take heed of this advice. Here’s why: From this point forward, hiring top people will get progressively more difficult. If you’re not seeing enough top candidates now in a slow economy, how hard do you think it will be in a recovering economy ó without making fundamental changes? In a recent article, I made the case that semi-active and semi-passive candidates were the candidate pools you needed to target. These are the top people who are now overworked, underpaid, underappreciated and frustrated. On bad days, they look for jobs on the job boards. On any other day, they will take a recruiter’s call to explore new opportunities. However, they’re all ready to move now, once they collectively agree the economy is back. Watch out for the stampede. Companies should now be establishing formal sourcing programs to take advantage of this window of opportunity. It will close again once everyone gets their new jobs. In an economic recovery, semi-active and semi-passive become more active ó looking for new jobs as opportunities become more plentiful. Their pent-up frustrations have an outlet ó new opportunities ó so they become more aggressive in looking for them. As a result, turnover increases as the delayed migration to apparently greener pastures begins. The earth is starting to rumble. Recruiting departments need to get ready for it. Those recruiting departments that have been aggressively upgrading their recruiting systems and recruiter tactics will have an early lead in hiring the initial batch of great talent that is about to come on the market. Everyone else will have an uphill fight. Regardless of who’s in the lead right now, in the end the difference-maker will be the company with the best recruiting team. Proactive recruiting departments are now working feverishly to get all of their new hiring initiatives underway. This includes developing workforce plans (don’t forget to double your employee turnover rate as part of the calculation for new hires), totally revamping recruitment advertising programs, developing continuous sourcing programs, and creating proactive employee referral programs to target semi-active and semi-passive candidates (to name a few). Recruiters are the glue that hold all of this together. The best semi-active and semi-passive candidates will have multiple opportunities. They will require more information and more hand-holding. Recruiters must be able to provide convincing information why your job A is far more compelling than jobs B and C. This is why recruiter one-on-one skills are so important. Hiring the best is not a financial transaction. It’s not about checking boxes, and going to compensation and getting an offer. It’s about crafting a career opportunity that’s compelling, compensated fairly, and positioned to provide the hot candidate information to convince him or her that there is nothing better out there. This is what the best recruiters do every day, and what all corporate recruiters must do if they want to compete for top talent. You will not be able to handle the increased activity with your current crop of recruiters. Not only will job openings increase, but turnover will add another 50% or more to the open requisition list. To obtain your share of the best talent, not only will your recruiters need new skills, you’ll need new recruiters. If you want to have a systematic end-to-end hiring process in place by August 5, 2004, plus be able to handle the increase in workload, this is what you must do in the next 45 days:

  1. Get more resources. You’ll need to make a business case for this. Here’s how. Start the proposal with the latest economic good news. Then put together a reasonable workforce plan for the next 12 months. Figure out productivity levels for your recruiting team in order to determine how many recruiters you’ll need to add. Compare the added cost of these recruiters and associated systems and support to the cost of not having positions filled on time. This is an easy case to make. Email me if you need help on this.
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  3. Evaluate your recruiting team. First, figure out how many of your recruiters can find and influence top semi-active and semi-passive candidates to consider your opportunities. Then find out how many of your corporate recruiters can influence and coach hiring managers. Recruiters absolutely need to do this.
  4. Evaluate your recruiting processes. Rework your sourcing channels to get the best in the door. My article on systematizing semi-sourcing will help here. Remember, what you’re doing now will be less effective in a recovery. So if you’re not seeing enough people now, you’ll be seeing even less in the next few months ó unless you change your programs. Bold, visible, proactive, theme-based recruiting strategies are needed to attract the best people. Rank all your channels on a 1-10 scale for effectiveness. If you’re not seeing enough top candidates, you’re below a 5. Then figure out what you need to do to become a 7 or 8.
  5. Get your recruiters trained in one-on-one recruiter skills. While new sourcing programs can help attract the best, keeping them involved and getting them hired is up to your recruiter team. How they address concerns, overcome objections, call semi-passive candidates, present jobs, and prevent candidates from voluntarily opting-out is the difference maker.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that gets filled up the moment it opens? If you arrive just 15 minutes later, you have to wait at least another 60 minutes before the early diners leave. This is what happens in a recovery. The best candidates all get to the restaurant the moment it opens up. If you arrive too late, you’ll have to wait months, even years before some of these top performers voluntarily recycle themselves back into the workforce. This is a huge opportunity. Don’t waste it. The pent-up demand is out there. It’s about to get filled. Get ready for it. August 8, 2004 is just around the corner. Note: We’re putting the finishing touches on our Zero-based Hiring tour. Click here for some information and the Zero-based Hiring tour schedule. I hope to meet many of you personally when we’re in your area. During the workshops, we’ll be discussing many of these essential recruiter skills, including the latest semi-sourcing techniques, so it’s something I’m sure you’ll want to check out. We’re holding a sneak preview of the course on August 20th in Southern California, and we’ve made special arrangements with ERE ó including special discounts. Visit www.adlerconcepts.com/zbhtour-signuppartners.html if you’d like to check this out.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).

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