Lean, Just-in-Time Recruiting!

Archive for August, 2009


Thursday, August 27th, 2009

As announced in June, we recently partnered with industry experts in analytics, process improvement and employer branding to create an enhanced service offering through our new entity – LEAN Human Capital.

Today I am excited to announce that Bradley Savoy will be joining us as a Founding Partner of this exciting new organization .

I have worked with Bradley for years and I am very excited to now work with him on a full time basis!
Bradley has been instrumental in helping design our unique Solution proven to help organizations remove waste from the staffing supply chain, allowing them to migrate towards a JIT hiring solution.

I welcome him and look forward to his contributions to our blog site. Please check out his introductory thoughts below!

Welcome to LEAN!

First of all I have to tell everyone how absolutely thrilled I am to be a part of LEAN! LEAN Human Capital is a concept that David Szary and I have been talking about for years, in theory and in practice through various forms.

My background is an evolution of a corporate staffing guy turned human capital consultant. The early part of my career is the transition from recruiter to head of staffing. The most recent paths in my career have been as a human capital consultant. I’ve had the privilege of working for, and with, some of the best companies in the world, and I’m looking forward to sharing knowledge (and learning from) some of the most respected staffing organizations throughout the country!

At LEAN, we have benchmarked best practices from the leading process improvement methodologies (TPS/JIT, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints) to create process optimization methodologies specifically designed for the staffing function.

Our goal is to enable organizations to:

  • Create a productive, efficient staffing supply chain designed to deliver a just-in-time recruitment solution.
  • Objectively quantify the optimal organizational structure to consistently meet hiring demands and service level agreements.
  • Reduce waste associated with inefficient, non-core, non-revenue producing tasks.

So let’s look at these methodologies for a bit, and how they apply to what we do:

Six Sigma: You’ve probably heard of Six Sigma Popularized by Motorola and General Electric back in the 80’s and 90’s, Six Sigma is a systematic approach that enables companies to drive efficiencies in process and enable significant cost reductions through the control of variation and removal of any defects in processes.

TPS: You may not have heard of Toyota’s Production System, but I’m sure most have heard of Lean manufacturing and/or process improvement methodology. TPS is about producing quality products efficiently; through the elimination of waste, inconsistencies, and unreasonable requirements on the production line. In order to deliver a vehicle ordered by a customer as quickly as possible, the vehicle is efficiently built within the shortest possible period.

Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an overall management philosophy introduced by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt in his 1984 book titled The Goal, that is geared to help organizations continually achieve their goal.[1] The title comes from the contention that any manageable system is limited in achieving more of its goal by a very small number of constraints, and that there is always at least one constraint. The TOC process seeks to identify the constraint and restructure the rest of the organization around it, through the use of the Five Focusing Steps.

All three of these approaches are particularly relevant to the staffing function, and demonstrate the best of breed staffing function over the also-ran function.

Regardless of the methodology; it’s all about producing quality hires by eliminating waste and inconsistencies in the staffing process, while also addressing unreasonable requirements of the hiring managers and other customers we service. Essentially the staffing function delivers the hire just in time and exceeds the quality the hiring managers needs.

And it really does work! To give you just one example, I worked with a client on a project focused on reducing expenditures and potential waste in hiring practices. In the end the project yielded $6 Million in savings while improving hiring manager satisfaction by over 20%!

Through studying and use of these methodologies over the last 18 years, I’m further convinced and passionate about these major tenants of successful staffing organizations:

  • You can’t improve what you don’t measure – If you don’t know the quality of your hires right now, or how fast you can fill your positions, then how can you improve anything.
  • Continuous improvement is paramount – If you’re not continuously monitoring and adjusting your staffing process, it can erode over time to the risk of poor candidate quality or quality of hire.
  • Letting data drive business decisions – When making business decisions related to human capital, it needs to be a balanced approach. This is not meant to negate the value of subjective experience, but to back up that experience with real facts to make better decisions.
  • Going from good to elite – The concept that Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and other greats of their field, have certain traits and practices that have enabled them to excel!

I’m excited because I now get the opportunity be 100% dedicated to put the aforementioned theories and proven techniques into practice to help organizations become more efficient, while reducing costs and improving service quality.

Building candidate pipelines: The dilemma and some solutions

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Developing candidate pipelines (IE having a ready “pool” of andidates available when a position opens up) is a topic that has been talked about for years.

Of late, given the decrease in open positions, the candidate pipleine subject has resurfaced again as a ‘hot’ topic among many recruitment leaders and hiring managers.

Comments like:

“Now is the time to fill the pipeline for future hiring needs.”
“Since the recruiters have extra time, let’s have them build candidate pipelines.”

These comments are being made at companies throughout the country.

What I find most interesting is a growing frustration and disconnect between recruiters and hiring managers regarding this subject.

Additionally, while in theory – recruiters with fewer requisitions should have more time to “pipeline candidates” – in most organizations, this is not happening.

Why is this the case? I think the frustration and lack of candidate pipeline development is a result of:

  1. Managers’ unrealistic expectations regarding candidate pipelines.
  2. Undefined, unrealistic expectations regarding the time it takes to create pipelines and develop a candidate relationship management program.

Regarding the first point, I think recruiters and hiring managers have different definitions for “developing candidate pipelines”.

If you ask most hiring managers what the definition is, most will say:

“A ready pool of pre-screened applicants interested in working for our organization. When an opening comes up, we call them up, bring them in for an interview and if we like them – hire them.”

My (and I think most recruiters’) definition is:

“A pipeline/ network of talented professionals (active and/or passive job seekers, pre-screened or not) that you regularly communicate with regarding opportunities with your organization. A pipeline of candidates, that when an opening comes up, you can immediately contact and engage in discussions about the opportunity and/or to network.”

To maintain a pool of pre-screened, job seekers ready to join our organization with little more than a two week notice (managers’ definition) is not achievable or realistic.

We need to educate managers of this fact and the potential difference in the definitions.

First of all, taking into consideration that most of these so-called “ready in the wings” applicants would be active seekers, the probability that they would remain interested and available for an opportunity with your organization (before taking another) is very low.

Secondly, let’s assume you have 50% attrition of this pipeline on a monthly basis (i.e., 50% take another position and/or lose interest in your position/organization). The amount of time required to keep the pipeline stocked with candidates would be very inefficient and most likely be cost prohibitive.

This concept proposed by managers would be comparable to a grocer acquiring perishable food only to lose 50% of it before they can sell it!

Probably not smart business!

This brings me to my second point. Most recruiters (and hiring managers) underestimate the time required to develop candidate pipelines. And relatively few recruiters have calculated the amount of time it takes to identify, contact, and maintain relationships with quality professionals.

To help you quantify the time required, let’s dissect the process:

  • First you to need to find qualified applicants that meet the position specifications (and we all know quality talent is not sitting out on job boards or applying to our postings). This might include performing primary (phone-based) and Internet research to identify potential prospects.
  • You then need to verify that they are potential candidates and validate they are good at what they do (typically phone and/or referral based).
  • Once identified and validated, you need to make contact with them, engaging in discussion to understand their current situation, what would motivate them to move, etc.
  • Once you have established a connection/relationship, you need to create and maintain an ongoing relationship management campaign to stay connected with them.

Of course leveraging your centers of influence (hiring managers, employees), and using technology (including social networking sites) can reduce the time required to build and maintain pipelines, but I haven’t found anyone that has built strong candidate pipelines (as I defined above) that doesn’t dedicate a 5-10 + hours a week to this activity (pending type of recruit, # of job categories you recruit for, etc.).

Are you (or your recruiters) spending this amount of time per week on this task? Do you have a sourcing team dedicated to this task?

So what is a solution to the candidate pipeline dilemma?

  1. Educate hiring managers regarding candidate pipelines and make sure your definition of a candidate pipeline is the same as theirs.
  2. Educate the hiring managers regarding the process of developing candidate pipelines.
  3. Make sure the hiring managers and employees are engaged in the process.
    1. Who do they know in the market that are top performers that we should connect with?
    2. Who are the top performers at our competitors?
    3. Once we identify potential prospects, run the names by staff members to capture positive/negative intelligence about them.
  4. Do a pure time study to quantify the amount of time it takes to:
    1. Identify applicants
    2. Verify skills/quality
    3. Maintain contact with them and build relationships
  5. Develop a data-driven strategy to develop candidate pipelines based on customer demand (time and tools required).

While these ideas outlined probably seem fairly simple and straightforward, you will be amazed at the results of implementing them.

Upcoming Events

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Over the last couple of weeks, I have spoken with many HR/Recruiting professionals who have mentioned their requisition loads are increasing and/or managers are talking about “hiring” in the near future.


Is it: Early fall usually brings a spike in hiring with the summer vacation season ending and managers are trying to achieve year end goals and/or secure headcount before the end of the year (or they lose their budget).


Is this a sign that the economy is starting to recover? Or both?

We all know that at some point, companies will start hiring again and the war for top talent will become more intense. But the biggest difference most will be challenged with when this happens is that they will have to achieve new hiring goals with LESS STAFF AND BUDGET!

I am excited to announce that I will be participating in numerous events this fall presenting solutions to the new challenges recruitment organizations will face as we sail into 2010.

  • At the IQPC Annual Talent Management Summit, we will be discussing how to use LEAN Human Capital’s data-driven resource planning methodology to define the organizational structure required to migrate to an efficient, just-in-time hiring solution cutting unnecessary waste (and cost) from the staffing supply chain.

We have many exciting educational programs and resources that we will be releasing this fall to help organizations develop an efficient, lean staffing function required to migrate to a just-in-time hiring solution that will allow you to achieve hiring goals with less resources/budget!

I hope you have a productive Friday!

Your greeting sets the tone for the conversation!

Friday, August 7th, 2009

OK – you want to put yourself in a good mood in the morning? – - call Richard Newsom – VP of Recruitment Operations at Fifth Third Bank (Wait! – Don’t really call him! – - he will kill me! )

As with all of us, he is busy, has tight deadlines, and deals with the normal day-to-day challenges we all face professionally, as well as personally – - but when I call him, he has such a positive, pleasant greeting that not only does he make it inviting to want to talk to him, he gets me excited about his organization and having a great day.

So what does he say that is so powerful?

“It is a fantastic day here at Fifth Third; this is Richard Newsom – how may I help you?”

Now you have to know Richard. His background is in process improvement (he’s a Six Sigma Black Belt I believe) and he is in charge of operations in his role in Fifth Third’s recruitment organization (think metrics, process, etc.) – he is not a ‘recruiter’.

His delivery does not come across as “salesy” and/or over the top. His delivery is positive, straightforward and sincere, and therefore – - – very impactful.

All recruiters (including myself) need to be mindful of the big impact your greeting has on the productivity of your conversation with candidates, hiring managers, etc.

In our role, we want to create an ‘environment’ that is friendly, open, positive and conducive to recruiting top talent, gathering information, getting people to provide referrals, engaging hiring managers, etc. Your greeting plays a HUGE part in setting the tone.

Of course it goes without saying that the same principle applies to your voice mail greeting.

Is your voice mail greeting up-to-date?

Are you upbeat and positive?

Is it “inviting”? Would you call yourself back?

Is it short and to the point?

Friday is a great time to reflect on this simple, small, yet very powerful part of our communication ‘routine’ with our customers!

I want to thank Richard for allowing me to embarrass him publicly !

I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday!