Lean, Just-in-Time Recruiting!

Archive for the ‘Transactional Recruiter’ Category

7 Deadly Sins of Waste in Recruiting: Overproduction/Inventory

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

For those of you that missed our recent webinar – 7 Deadly Sins of Waste in Recruiting – -one ‘deadly sin’ always seems to drive a lot of feedback/discussion - Overproduction/Inventory!  In the Lean Six Sigma world, the word “Overproduction” is defined as “Production ahead of demand.”  The word, “Inventory” is defined as all components, work in process and finished product not being processed. 

Arguably these are the biggest offenders to creating waste and . . . the time/cost required to eliminate them.   

Examples of these areas of waste in talent management and solutions: 

  • Overproduction/inventory in postings.   Most organizations, as part of their staffing process, post each and every position to their website and a large job board (like Careerbuilder or Monster).  While this seems to be a quick, cost effective sourcing solution, for those positions that do not require additional applicant flow and/or positions that have a very low probability of being filled by this source – - the cost/time associated with managing the unqualified applicant flow far exceeds the benefits.

Solution(s): When you receive a new position, evaluate the historical source of hire.  If 80% of the time this type of position was filled through internal applicants or referrals, why not exhaust those channels before publishing the position to the masses?  If less than 5% of the time a position is filled by large job boards, investigate more effective sourcing solutions (direct sourcing, niche job boards, etc.) before generating a routine posting on a large job board.  Also remember that job aggregators (simplyhired.com, indeed.com, etc.)  are going to “wrap”  any posting you put on your own site anyway.  

  • Routing multiple candidates to the interview stage.  Historically, managers have requested (and we have provided) a ’slate’ of candidates for each and every position.  Minimally, the rule of thumb has been the magical  ‘3′ candidates per position.  In some cases, we find recruiters routing 5, 10 or worse yet – – – all the candidates that applied for the position.  To the definition, every candidate routed to the hiring manager that does not get hired is WASTE.

Solution:  While psychologically I can understand that a manager wants to review his/her ”options” before making a critical decision like hiring a new employee, if they trust that the recruiter has exhausted all candidate/sourcing options in order to come up with the best, and they understand the concept of waste, then there is no reason that there should ever be more than 3 candidates routed for consideration unless of course those first three don’t meet the requirements. If this happens, it indicates that not enough time was spent up front understanding the requirements of the position and how each candidate would need to demonstrate that they are able to perform the required tasks. The more time spent up front with the hiring manager and those participating in the interviewing process to ensure all are in alignment and to validate how the candidate will be selected; the less time wasted in sourcing. 

For high volume hiring and/or for managers that have experience hiring for a certain position, evaluating each candidate against previous hires (and more importantly – - the competencies/skills necessary to excel in the position) is a much better predictor of success than evaluating one candidate against another. Challenge the old-school mindset of “3+ candidates routed per position!”

  • Developing a slate of candidates for positions that go on hold.   Ok – – how many times have you developed a slate of candidates for a position that . . . goes on hold!  Now in fairness to hiring managers, there are legitimate reasons that this happens that for the most part are out of their control.  But unfortunately, we know that other managers often post positions ahead of approval that have a high probability of never being approved.  Talk about WASTE!  The time spent sourcing/pre-screening candidates for positions that go on hold for some organizations is astronomical! 

Solution: Consider making approval processes mandatory, or holding off on the sourcing process for 48 hours to double check the position approval status.   For those of you that want to be more progressive – gain approval to implement a “charge back” policy!  Charge back to the manager/line of business for openings that are put on hold and waste the valuable time and effort of the staffing function!

While we will never eliminate all of the overproduction/inventory in our hiring process, taking simple steps to incrementally remove waste will exponentially save you time and money!

“Seven Deadly Sins of Waste” in Recruiting – Preview

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I found an excellent report on Lean (Toyota production Systems – TPS) by Wharton and the Boston Consulting Group called, “Rethinking Lean: Beyond the Shop Floor.”

It provides excellent examples of how you can apply the principles of waste elimination and process efficiency within service organizations (including healthcare and financial service industries). 

As I read the report, it became evident why implementing the principles of waste elimination, worker involvement and continuous improvement within the recruitment/hiring process can be so successful.  

While the principles of waste elimination, worker involvement and CI haven’t changed much since TPS was created 50 years ago the results are very impressive.

In January, we will discuss eliminating the “seven deadly sins of waste” in the recruitment process.

If you are interested in how we use the principles of lean, materials release planning, and supply chain optimization to answer the age old question, What is the acceptable number of requisitions per recruiter? check out our published white paper on the subject.

I hope you have a great “pre-holiday” week!

Some snippets that I found particularly interesting from the report are outlined below:

  • “Do you understand your customer segments?” Can you serve the most valued customer more effectively?
  • Companies should always begin their lean efforts by asking, “What are you trying to achieve?” “It doesn’t begin with a rule. And it’s not about isolating one piece of the business and deciding its fate.  It’s about rethinking every business process.” “It’s not about cost cutting across the board,” he says. “It’s about judicious investing. It’s not about starving. It’s about building muscle, trimming fat.”
  • Many companies struggle to align lead times, inventory and other data to financial measures, even with performance metrics in place.  This is probably because they are not measuring the right things. Instead of coming to a better understanding of your organization and how to improve it, “Many die a death of a thousand metrics.”
  • “When people think about lean, they often associate it with reducing the workforce,” Faber says, “But the cost is not in the line labor; it’s in the overhead.”
  • A key part of Lean involves looking at the business differently. You need to have metrics on moving applicants through the staffing supply chain. That requires sourcers, recruiters, coordinators, HR business partners, and hiring managers engage in a collective dialogue around ensuring efficiency.
  • In manufacturing no one sees how things get made. They probably don’t care. But in staffing/hiring – customers see the process and it is extremely personal.  So if your service doesn’t track customer dissatisfaction you might never know what people thing about your organization.
  • Lean initiatives begin with identifying and standardizing a process. “Try to think of your business as repetitive. Once you have that identified – think of how long someone stays in that process, the waste being created, the dissatisfaction occurring, and the impact of that person staying in that process. Next, measure performance.
  • TPS is a way of life. A continuous improvement process that never stops. TPS wasn’t implemented just once. Its constant improvement, constant innovation and constant elimination of extra steps. The most important principle is that this is not a four-month project. You will see benefits, but you must do it continually.
  • Key principles of lean ask the following questions, “What is important? What matters to the customer? What delivers value?”
  • Lean is not new or rocket science. It’s like your diet. You know what to eat and how much to eat but old habits are hard to break. That is why behavior modification, measurement, accountability, training is so important.
  • “Lean works best as a balanced top-down and bottom-up effort.” Christian Terwiesch, a Wharton professor, remembers trying to talk with hospitals about lean initiatives several years ago. “They thought I was evil. They said ‘We’re doctors. We help people.’ Now these same institutions have chief medical officers saying, ‘We want to run this place like Toyota!’”

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.

Thoughts from the road!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous industry events allowing me to talk “shop” with many talented staffing professionals.

 As always, these events allow me to learn from others and provide me time to incubate thoughts/ideas that often turn into future strategies. 

 Some interesting thoughts/ideas from my travels:

  • Ideally, I think most would agree that hiring people based on competencies (versus skills) will drive better hiring decisions. Unfortunately, because it is not easy to assess someone’s competencies, we most often hire based on skills.  With internal candidates, we should have a more accurate understanding of past performance, candidate competencies, etc. allowing us truly to focus the hiring decision based more on competencies versus skills.
  • Probably only 5 to 20% of all hires need some type of direct sourcing activity. Do you understand the positions that will NOT be filled by active/internal candidates before you dedicate time, money, and resources on active/internal strategies that take precious time away from direct sourcing activities?
  • Shally Steckerl challenged the thought that one’s internal website is a “source of hire” – rather, it is a destination.  Think about it.  Most often candidates search for jobs via ‘google searches’, job boards, sites like www.simplyhired.com or www.indeed.com, SEO/SEM, social networking, advertising, etc. If one source of hires is your website, you probably do not truly understand how your candidates ‘found’ your opportunities. 
  • For those of you that have multiple license agreements with large job boards, how many of your recruiters actually use them on a regular basis?  Many companies have saved money by cutting back on licenses!
  • David Lord had some interesting statistics on retained executive search firms. 
    • The submitted candidate to hire ratio for retained search firms was 6.5 to 1 in 07 and 5.2 to 1 in 08.  Is this more efficient than your internal team?
    • 4 out of 10 retained executive searches fail!  WOW!   
  • While most executives see recruiting as “essential”, do they really perceive it to be strategic to their organization? One way to shift their thoughts is to answer the question, “How does recruiting solve corporate problems?”
  • Here’s an idea – Create an annual report for your 2009 recruitment activity/ performance. Present the report to CXX level.
  • To truly create an effective Talent Relationship Program, you need to get hiring managers involved with the ‘relationship management’ activity.
  • If your sourcing team does an effective job of identifying/sourcing quality talent for key job families over time, your sourcing team will spend less time “identifying” talent and more time developing relationships with the talent found!   
  • Create questions to ask your hiring managers:
    • What positions are most critical for changing the market value of our company?
    • What positions are less critical and really only need good people? 

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!


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.

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!