Working With Hiring Managers, Courting Candidates, Living Up to Brand Top Recruiters’ Agendas

New technologies have not solved old recruiting problems, according to attendees at this month’s ERE Expo in Hollywood, Florida. ?

On the first day of the conference, recruiters divided into a series of discussion groups to examine what’s most giving them fits. Here are the issues, in no particular order, that attendees during those roundtable discussions and elsewhere during the conference said are most vexing:

Judging recruiters. Common questions recruiters asked at the conference: How should companies measure/reward recruiters for the quality of hire, not just whether they hired someone? How should companies reward recruiters for a company having low turnover rates? If an employee is fired, do recruiting leaders review with recruiters what could have been done differently to onboard and stay in touch with the employee? Finding good recruiters is a challenge, particularly recruiters who are good at building long-term relationships with candidates. “Too much HR experience can be a detriment,” says one recruiter.

Promoting technology that reaches younger applicants. While recruiters said they understand the value in using text-messaging and instant-messaging in their candidate relationships, company leaders do not always share the same tech-savvy style or want to invest in advertising venues that will reach more tech-savvy candidates. Recruiters also want to make sure they respect candidates’ privacy when they’re slipping them IMs in the middle of the day (or night). One person mentioned the high cost of text-messaging, particularly mass-messaging, as an obstacle.

Making brands real. Employment branding has gotten more sophisticated, but the tough part is making sure that how companies are treating current employees and potential employees keeps living up to what’s being sold. (See the June 2006 issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership for more on branding.)

The “illusion of inclusion.” Despite a lot of pro-diversity recruiting-brochure photos, white males are still often occupying the executive positions with the most power. This is frustrating some recruiting leaders who are investing time and money in diversity recruiting, only to see a poor onboarding experience and a lack of mentoring cause the new employee to leave rather than get promoted.

Relationships with hiring managers. Some recruiters are meeting with managers to discuss job openings before active recruiting begins. They’re also working with managers to get them to better understand the hiring environment (the degree to which candidates are available in the local area, for example) that recruiters are facing.

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A crowded technology market, and the need for technology to applicant tracking and other systems to handle passive candidates. With so many applicant tracking systems, some attendees said it’s hard to determine which system is best. Another common challenge: the systems some attendees said they’re using to manage their job applicants aren’t great at handling potential job candidates who aren’t looking for jobs, or candidates in the pipeline for whom the company doesn’t have a job ready.

College-recruiting challenges. For lesser-known companies, it’s tough to get the message out to candidates that Anonymous Corporation, Inc., is worth as much of a look as Google, Disney, and Goldman Sachs are. For all companies, there’s a need to keep up with what today’s students really want, not what surveys said they wanted five years ago. And recruiters are trying to work with professors, coaches, academic department heads, and student leaders to build college relationships that in days gone by only involved the career center. Identifying the best colleges to target — beyond the alma maters of executives — is still a challenge.

Keeping referral programs fresh. Employee referral programs are improving, but sometimes they’re being used merely to reward friends and family with jobs that could have gone to better-qualified candidates.

Courting candidates. Despite all the new social-networking websites, iPods, and other technology, there’s a sense that companies still aren’t being sufficiently candidate-centric.

Pay variances. One of globalization’s challenges is handling large variations in pay between countries; some employees are wondering whether they really should be paid so much less than someone in the United States or in other relatively high-wage nations.

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