Lean, Just-in-Time Recruiting!

Archive for the ‘Candidate Pipeline’ Category

Expectation versus Reality — Deliver on Your Promises Consistently

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Companies who are serious about their talent need to deliver on their promises consistently.

When a candidate goes to your career website they begin to research your company. They are looking for information, drivers, and attractors that make your company a more intriguing proposition than others. 

Let’s say they decide to apply, and they’re invited in for the interview.  From the moment they arrive at your office they are gauging if the company they saw online matches what they see in reality.  As you go further down the lifecycle of hiring someone, further expectations develop based on the information you portray to the candidate. 

If the recruiter or hiring manager driving the interview process makes statements such as:  “We have a strong work/life balance at our company.  We believe in learning and development.  We have an open door policy in which management is readily acceptable.”  Then the organization better be prepared to deliver on those statements consistently.

Take the Gen X group and the Millenials.  Both of these groups are getting a lot of focus from companies right now to ensure they fill talent gaps as boomers reach retirement.  From our research, one of the key areas of attraction for both of these groups is learning and development.  Another dynamic of these groups is a lack of long-term company loyalty.  If your company states a strong position on learning and development, whether online, during the interview process or during on-boarding, and you don’t deliver on that promise these groups will leave quickly.

Best in class companies ask employees if the expectation they have of the company is matching the reality they’re experiencing over time.  Results will show significant drop offs in satisfaction if companies aren’t effectively setting and managing expectations with their new hires. 

The organizations that effectively manage expectation versus reality make sure that the messages they state on their website, during the interview process, and beyond are consistent and truthful.  They also consistently ask the employees what they think.  If the perception of new employees is not aligning with what companies are expecting then they should begin to make changes accordingly.

Expectation versus Reality – Deliver on your promises, consistently

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Companies who are serious about their talent need to deliver on their promises consistently.  When a candidate goes to your careers website, it’s the first step they take in their research of your company. They are looking for information, drivers, and attractors that make your company a more intriguing proposition than others.  Let’s say they decide to apply and they’re invited in for the interview. 

From the moment they arrive at your office they are gauging if the company they saw online is reflective of what they see in reality.  As you go further down the path of hiring someone, expectations continue to develop based on the information you portray to the candidate. 

If the recruiter or hiring manager driving the interview process makes statements such as:  “We have a strong work/life balance at our company” or “We believe in learning and development”, or “We have an open door policy in which management is readily acceptable,” then the organization better be prepared to deliver on those statements consistently.

Take the Gen X group and the Millenials.  Both of these groups are getting a lot of focus from companies right now to ensure they fill talent gaps as boomers reach retirement.  From our research, one of the key areas of attraction for both of these groups is learning and development.  Another dynamic of these groups is a lack of long-term company loyalty.  If your company states a strong position on learning and development online during the interview process and on-boarding, and then you don’t deliver on that promise; then these groups will leave quickly.

Some best practices to address this are:

  • Make sure that the messages you state on your website, during the interview process, and beyond are consistent and truthful. 
  • Ask the employees what they think about their experience on a frequent basis through focus groups or employee satisfaction surveys. 
  • Use realistic job previews on the careers website.
  • Make sure the candidate has a chance to see the work environment and talk with prospective peers as part of the interview process
  • Train recruiters and hiring managers on interview practices 

By following some of these steps and others you’ll experience higher retention rates and employee loyalty as the key results!  Contact me with any questions or to discuss how we have worked with clients to bridge this gap.

What every Recruiter Can Learn from Spaghetti Sauce

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I was introduced to this great video clip by Malcolm Gladwell the other day. Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”. In this talk, he explains what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce.

As I watched it, I realized not only what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce but also what recruiters can learn from spaghetti sauce.

A core message (amongst many) in his presentation is the concept of “embracing the diversity of human beings”.

He shares how back in the 70’s, spaghetti manufacturers like Ragu and Presto were all trying to make the “perfect spaghetti sauce”. What they failed to understand is that there is no “perfect spaghetti sauce” because all of us have different tastes, likes, etc.

This core message applies to candidates. I think all too often organizations spend too much time and money trying to come up with a core brand image or theme of why individuals should work for their organization. They are trying to create “the perfect image” which will entice everyone to want to work for their organization which as Malcom illustrates . . . is not possible.

With that said, I find most recruiters spent way too little time embracing the diversity of candidates and identifying and understanding what is truly important to a specific candidate and then communicating how their organization can (or cannot) meet those objectives/needs.

Outlined below are some simple questions you can ask (we embed these in our Candidate Pre-screen/Interview process) to help identify a candidates true motives, needs, wants, concerns, etc.

What is the biggest concern you have in your position right now in relation to your future?

  • On scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you in your current position? What would have to change to make it a 10?
  • Have you spoken to your manager about making these changes?
  • What are going to be your 3 most important criteria you will use in your decision to accept or not accept a position?
  • (Depending on the answers above) What would a new position have to offer you that would get you to leave your current one?

The information gathered by asking these questions is critical for:

  • Developing rapport with your candidate
  • Ensuring your organization (as well as the position) is a great match for their needs
  • Gathering the intelligence critical to successfully “closing the candidate”

If you are not spending at least 5-10 minutes understanding “what type of spaghetti sauce they want or like”, your probability of luring top talent to your organization is greatly diminished.

The other point I believe recruiters can take from this video is that people (and in this case, hiring managers) often don’t know exactly what they want. Malcolm made this point by revealing that when interrogated about their spaghetti preferences, no one ever said “Extra Chunky” and yet, what do you think is the most popular type of spaghetti sauce? That’s right – Extra Chunky! Often we, as recruiters and HR Managers, expect the hiring manager to tell us what type of candidate they’re seeking for a certain position. The truth is, most hiring managers don’t know! The better question to ask is, “What needs to get done?”

We all know that people with different sets of skills and different backgrounds can be successful in the same types of jobs, yet we continuously try to narrow the scope of candidates we review to the point that we are certainly passing up people who could be excellent. Too often the discussions between recruiter /HR manager and hiring manager focus on personality traits or soft skills instead of the business problems to be solved with the hiring of this new individual. The hiring manager will spend a lot of time talking about the fact that they want someone who is energetic, driven, dedicated, etc., etc…..sometimes to the point that they say, “I’ll know it when I see it!” While personality traits are certainly part of the hiring process, in the end it’s all about results. Our job as recruiters/hr managers is to guide the hiring manager through their thought process to determine the necessary experience/skills the candidate needs in order to get the job done and then quantify each aspect so that we understand the level of expertise needed for each. Some sample questions we like to ask hiring managers include:

  • What isn’t getting done currently because this position hasn’t been filled? (i.e., what precipitated the need for the position?)
  • How will you know if the candidate has the right level of experience with… (I ask this question regarding every skill or type of experience the hiring manager states as a requirement. They often haven’t thought through this yet and this is a wonderful question to help them start formulating the questions they’ll want to ask in the interview. I also ask them for sample questions I can use in my screening to make sure I’m able to gauge whether or not the candidate has the right level of expertise in each area.) I follow this question with, “And how will the individual be using this skill/experience in the job?”
  • We all know that you can have two candidates with the same number of years of experience and one is very good while the other isn’t. What will the right candidate need to have accomplished in their past position(s) to give you the confidence they can succeed in this position?

Working through these questions with the hiring manager helps all involved to get away from envisioning just one type of candidate (spaghetti sauce!) that can fill the position and be open to the fact that there may be several candidates from a variety of backgrounds who can get the job done (and maybe even bring some new perspective to the company!)

While the video of Malcolm is a little lengthy (18 minutes), I think it is a great one to watch!

I hope you had a nice holiday weekend!


Developing an Effective Recruiter Training Program

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Perhaps one of the most neglected functions for on-going development is the recruiting function. Most organizations hire recruiters based on previous experience and then expect them to apply that experience into their culture and hiring processes with minimal instruction.

The majority of training for recruiters is focused on technology training, whether it’s the applicant tracking system, the candidate database, performance management, or HRIS system. These are just the technology elements of the job.

A career recruiter will bring a strong foundation of skills in sourcing, screening, creation, and closing of candidate offers, etc. Those coupled with technology understanding are the fundamental skills any recruiter will need to be successful.

However, there are a few things that a company will need to provide in order to make the recruiter successful in your company environment:

  • What is the detailed employment value proposition that makes your company more attractive than your competition?
  • Within the department or group of jobs that the recruiter is aligned to, what are the aspects of that department or job that makes it more attractive? What are the pitfalls?
  • What are the opportunities the recruiter can “sell” that differentiates your company from another?

Here are some best practices in developing an effective recruiter training program:

Design your program to address gaps in the competencies of your recruiters.

First, you need to gain an understanding of the fundamental competencies that are most important for your recruiters. If you looked at your most successful recruiters, which competencies or behaviors set them apart from the others? Do they know the business for which they recruit better than their peers? Are they better “closers”, securing more hires per offer than their peers? If you don’t have a sense of this, then consider creating a Success Profile.

Conducting a series of focus groups or interviews with your recruiters, and the subsequent analysis, creates a tool that acts as a roadmap to management and all recruiters demonstrating the traits and competencies of your best recruiters. Once this is complete, you can then analyze the gaps within the rest of your department. Once you have this gap analysis completed, you can then design the elements of your program. These program elements would address gaps that exist in your current staff, not teaching them something they already know.

Use an external party to train.

The biggest mistake a company can make is to have their staffing or HR executives act as coaches to the people they manage everyday. The executives are to act as everyday coaches and developers of the talent, but in a forum such as this, the executive’s supervisory capacity can conflict with his or her role as a trainer.

In addition, the external party can bring best practices outside of the company’s environment that have worked across multiple organizations. Finally, an external party creates a more open environment, in which dissenting opinions, everyday issues, and other frustrations can be voiced in a “safe” environment.

Have a plan to evaluate success.

It can be as simple as a training evaluation form that is completed by attendees at the end of the course, or a focus group conducted after the session. The key is to gain a sense from the attendees that the content mapped to the competencies you planned to address in the training. This will entail setup on the front end and analysis of the results of the evaluation forms/focus groups, but this is a key step.

Commit to on-going training & effectiveness.

Establish a focus group with recruiting leaders 3 months after the training program to determine the effectiveness of the program and address any remaining areas for improvement. Commit to providing the same training program as on-boarding for ALL new recruiters that enter your organization. Finally, plan to update your training every 6 months and launch the program once a year for all recruiters.

Growing your “friends” network

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Each day we’re deluged with multiple resumes, phone screens, and interviews of hundreds of candidates. But it’s our search for the right candidate that is the primary driver of our work. Of course a key to your success is developing relationships (“friends”) within the core areas for which you recruit.

While I know most of you have an ATS, or even a CMS (contact management system) to manage candidates, leads, etc., I have found that there are other ways to connect with our quality candidates that may be even more advantageous.

The most effective way I have found is using LinkedIn and primarily, the LinkedIn toolbar. This toolbar will allow you to use Outlook to immediately connect with candidates as you exchange emails with them.

The LinkedIn toolbar allows you to build your network by selecting those people you email often, as well as seeing suggestions of who to invite based on email frequency. Once installed, you can invite others with one click to build your network faster and update your Outlook contacts with LinkedIn profile information.

You’ll also receive notifications when your contacts change their LinkedIn profiles and see LinkedIn mini-profiles for everyone that emails you. The other aspect I like is that you have LinkedIn one-click access from Outlook through a dashboard to stay up-to-date with your network.

If you have an Outlook account you can access the toolbar app here .

Now as with any technology, you must apply discipline to see the results the application promises. I have trained myself to make it part of my routine to immediately click on the mini-profile link in my toolbar the moment I exchange emails with a quality candidate. It feels pretty fluid once you do it a couple of times.

So try the app, but more importantly, apply the discipline of ensuring that you are connected to new quality candidates every day.

What motivates you to maintain intensity and passion day in and day out to achieve the perfect day, week, or year?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

In continuing our theme of “game changing” tactics of elite recruiters…It’s something we all struggle with, the balance of consistently maintaining the passion for what we do each day as recruiters.  For folks like me that have been doing this for years, it’s a constant struggle.  I have been in the game long enough to know what to do and how to do it, but I’m human, and we’re prone to make mistakes.  It’s honestly probably every day that each of us struggles with keeping the passion alive.  We need to maintain our passion for the profession in dealing with candidates, hiring managers, internal business partners, etc.  Everyone has different needs and wants and personalities to manage.   
I’ll share here a few techniques that have helped me over the years. 
1. Planning and time management  - David has written some great articles on this, from managing your time for sourcing  to managing your CIE’s (calls, interruptions and emails)We also spend a great deal of time in your educational programs talking about the Perfect week and Perfect Day.  If you’d like to learn more about what we teach here, just contact me.  

To me, the key to time management is not the systems I use (Outlook, CRM tools, ATS, etc.) or the processes, but the discipline that needs to be applied.   I have always prided myself on completing my task list each day before I end the workday.  I allow myself exceptions to this, but only once per week.  So if I have 5 to-do’s on Tuesday and I only get 3 of them done, then I have to make up the remaining 2 to-do’s in the next couple of days.

2. Become focused and single minded – When I plan my days, either the day before, or the morning of, I know I must maintain a single minded focus on the task.  For example, I learned long ago to close, literally close, my email box or real time communication systems when I am on a call with a candidate, hiring manager, or client.  We all know it’s way too easy to have an email come through that upsets you and completely throws your focus from the task at hand.  So for me, no emails stay open during important phone calls. 

3. Warm up and cool down each day! – I have found that a quick launch leads to a long-term psychological effect to a productive day. Sure I do the requisite cup of coffee and peruse the emails at the start of my day too, but I only give myself 20-30 minutes for this – I literally time myself.  Once that time has passed and the coffee’s gone, I jump in, and all the way in.  If I start with a high intensity of activity right away, I’ve found that it will continue throughout the day.  When you work out, you start with a quick warm up to get the blood flowing.  It’s the same approach here.  If I start with a good warm up, it will continue.  Whether it’s a day of cold calls, meetings, or data entry, the approach is the same.  Warm up, start strong, end strong.
I also like to end the day like I end a workout, with a nice stretch.  As the day winds down, I try to avoid emails and jumping online to read the news.  I prefer to get out of chair and do some simple stretches.  Neck, shoulders, whatever.  The key is to have some simple blood flow and breathing to wind down.  Try it for just two minutes today, and you’ll see what I mean. 
4. Have a positive support system – Finally, I believe in support mechanisms.  I like to talk with colleagues about their day, and share war stories.  I also like to discuss the day with people outside of our profession.  Whether it’s your friend, your partner, your plant or your pet, talk with someone that has a fresh perspective on the challenges you face.  They don’t bring the jaded view we can have sometimes of our work, and can offer fresh perspectives that we haven’t thought of.

Practicing some or all of these techniques will definitely enable you to maintain your intensity and passion in your work, and I know you’ll see and feel the impact in your productivity.

The backlash is back!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

It seems like déjà vu. About 10 years ago the art of crafting Boolean search string commands, “peeling back URL’s” took the recruitment industry by storm.  Much like the Job boards did in the mid to late 90′s .   These new sourcing techniques were claimed to be the next ‘silver bullet’ with respect to finding that elusive passive, high quality candidate.  Recruiters raced out to learn more about these techniques and if . . .they executed the techniques properly. . . on certain types of positions . . . they found success. 

Fast forward and 10 years later and the same phenomenon is occurring again. We have a new set of technology based sourcing tools to find candidates.

  • Blogs have replaced internet “chat rooms” (isn’t a blog what we used to call a “chat room”?)
  • Searching the Internet via powerful browsers and Boolean search string logic has become even more advanced and powerful
  • Huge databases of people have emerged in social networks

Web 2.0 is what we are calling it this time around and again . . . like 10 years ago . . . on certain types of positions . . . these are powerful tools that work!

But just like last time, the pendulum that probably “swung to far to the right” is coming back.

Over the past six months, many discussions have been focusing back on the fundamentals of recruiting. While technology-based tools and methodologies can assist in finding candidates and even developing relationships . . . we know that this is only one piece of the pie.

What about – -

  • Engaging hiring managers, identifying the skills and competencies that are required of a new employee
  • Setting Service Level agreements
  • Developing and communicating a value proposition to attract quality top talent
  • Skillful Assessment techniques
  • Candidate Interview Preparation
  • Effective Salary negotiation tactics
  • Having the discipline to manage priorities, daily time management, and goal setting, etc.

The Pareto principle (80/20 rule) probably applies somewhere in this conversation. Just like 10 years ago, with all these cool new gadgets – - it is hard not to focus 80% of your time, effort and energy trying to master them. But the reality is there is no silver bullet with respect to recruiting.  Recruiting is a balance between technology, “Boolean searches”, networking groups, and the bullets above!

These thoughts of mine were further validated at the ERE conference last week. While there certainly were some really cool technology-based sourcing and selection tools – - many of the sessions were focused more on the fundamentals, managing client relationships, and measuring success/ROI, etc.

Tony Blake from DaVita, in his excellent presentation, quoted a person stating – - “The next killer app. in recruiting is the recruiter!” (I love this quote!)

Mike Grennier from Wal-Mart in his presentation titled “What I have Learned” . . . stated – - “Don’t forget about the phone as a core fundamental recruiting tool!”

So just like 10 years ago, the pendulum is starting to swing back to the right…

“Mastering the fundamentals, while maybe not that sexy, is back in style!”

Richard Newsom from Fifth Third Bank stated the following during his sesession “Managing your recruitment department on a single metric”: “There is nothing more powerful in recruiting than a skillful recruiter managing the process artfully from “end-to-end” to achieve exemplary customer satisfaction ratings from your internal/external customers. ”

To this point, over the coming weeks we will be discussing 10 fundamental “game changers” that Elite recruiters execute flawlessly 95% of the time!

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.