Extreme Makeover is a concept that broke onto the scene several years ago and featured personal and home makeovers. One show would take people who had some form of disfigurement or physical embarrassment and would put them through all sorts of plastic surgery until they would be completely transformed. Another show would focus just on those who were severely overweight and would put them on a diet and exercise regimen until they had reshaped their body into someone almost unrecognizable. Another would find families who had come upon hard times and were living in conditions that were undesirable at the very least, and unsafe most often. They would tear down the old house, and within a week, they would rebuild a dream home for the family.
In all cases, the show comes from the angle that the current situation is not acceptable and radical changes need to take place for you to be much better off. In a lot of the people who have been impacted by these shows, that is probably 100% true. But in other cases, the truth is that minor changes probably could have been made and the person on the receiving end probably would have been thrilled and would have been adequate. For the record, I love these shows. They make you feel good that people are out there who can bring about change to others who need it. It’s inspiring to see the tears of joy that so many express when their world is changed.
I am by no means an “old-timer” when it comes to recruiting. I run into people every day who have been recruiting much longer than me. One of the things that I like to do when I encounter those individuals is to talk a little shop with them. I am a student of recruiting strategies, workflows, sourcing techniques, recruiting technologies, current trends, etc. More often than not, I find that their basic approach to sourcing candidates, screening candidates, and presenting candidates has not changed much at all in the 15-20-25 years they have been in recruiting. I also have learned that they hate people like me who question everything and wonder if there is a better way.
Not only do I believe that a lot of companies could stand an Extreme Makeover in their Recruiting efforts, I think they are either going to be forced into one over the next few years, or they will fall into a desperate situation. But I also want to make it clear that not everyone needs an EXTREME makeover, some could just do with some minor changes and fresh thinking.
I have over 1200 contacts on Linked In, a few hundred friends on Facebook, I have a good deal of followers on Twitter and on my Facebook Fan Page and my blog. A few weeks ago, I polled them. I asked, “If you could only commit one hour to a webinar, what is the topic that you would make time for?” The overwhelming answer came back – “We know that we need to update or change our recruiting strategies and processes, but can you show us how it should look? Guide us through what an effective model looks like.”
So, here it is. I am going to tackle this BIG issue and walk you through how to establish an effective recruiting strategy, stellar sourcing and screening processes, the best technologies, and the mindset and goals of your recruiting staff should grasp. AND, it’s only going to take an hour – just like the TV shows.
Pouring the Foundation – Recruiting Philosophy
It should be proactively relational. The next generation making their way into the workforce currently will be more relational than past generations. They will begin looking at career options and targeting companies early in their collegiate years. Those organizations who engage this generation early, start building relationships with them, offering internships to them during summer and winter breaks, and allowing them to feel comfortable with that organization’s opportunities (short term and long term), management style, work/life balance, and overall culture – they will land the very best talent. Allowing future employees to envision themselves working in that environment prior to the actual start of their careers, that’s a huge advantage!
It should be candidate considerate. As much effort and consideration should be made in winning candidates as is made in winning customers. Provide engaging information on the corporate website and through various social media channels – Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc. – that paints a compelling picture of the company, the team, causes that matter to you, and why this company matters. Post accurate job descriptions that paint a picture of the role and how it impacts the rest of the organization. Use technology to make the process as quick and easy as possible for them to apply and to be updated throughout the recruiting process. Provide timely feedback and value their efforts and time invested in you.
Tech junkies – in a good way. The trend over the past several years is for technology to take over and only have a recruiter pick up the phone and speak to a candidate as a last resort. Not only does this leave a bad impression on the candidate, but the next generation will not respond to this. The use of text messaging, real time online scheduling of interviews, videos of the company and what you “do”, email confirmations when someone applies or an interview is scheduled to set the candidate’s mind at ease, blogs from employees, video interviews, etc. Technology should be used as a speed and convenience asset to the candidate, not as a reason for your staff to do less.
Total candidate peep show. The screening and assessment stage should target the total candidate, not just skills and experience. A mix of skills based questions, behavioral type questions, surprise questions, should be used – but also look deeper into a candidate’s motivator’s and drivers to see how they will likely respond within the team and in unique circumstances. Look for people who are driven to do the right thing because it’s the right thing. They’ll do the right thing if no one is watching, if they never get recognized for it, or if it never earns them a raise or promotion. These are the people to build your teams upon.
Team Player or Played by the Team? Your recruiting staff needs to be people who know, understand and believe in the vision. They must love people. They must “get” technology. They must treat others as they would like to be treated. They must live by the process. They must be collaborative and open in making the team successful. “Lone Rangers” have no place here and need to hit the trail.
Framing the Walls – The Process
The Recruiting Process will be divided into a few segments:
- Proactive Recruitment / Pipeline Building
- Live Search
Each of these segments would have their own unique workflows to follow, but they should transition from one to another seamlessly.
Proactive Recruitment Process
All of these efforts are intended to build a pipeline, whether or not you have open positions currently. Build your talent pool with strategic efforts in the places that will likely bring the most success so that when you do have openings, you have people to consider immediately.
- Assess the top colleges, trade schools, and branches of military where graduates target your industry
- Establish alliances with those institutions that make the most sense for you – based on volume, location, etc.
- Maintain a presence on those campuses and begin identifying top performers in the competencies that transition well into your organization.
- Establish internships so those top performers can be invited into your organization and begin envisioning themselves working there when they begin their careers full-time.
- Build relationships, trust, rapport with the faculty, leadership, and those who have trust with the students so they will speak well of your organization.
- Evaluate your corporate website to assure that the messaging is in line with motivators and values that appeal to the target recruits.
- Compelling job descriptions – not just bullet point after bullet point of responsibilities and requirements. Why work for you? What difference does their job make?
- Institute a Referral Program so great employees can attract other great employees
- Go social – invest in videos to bring your company to life for prospective job seekers. Post it on your corporate website, create a YouTube channel, etc. Create a blog and have some of your best and brightest share their thoughts on the difference they make within your company.
- Open your doors and have periodic Open House events. Let prospective job seekers come check out your office, mingle with your staff and leadership, again – let them envision themselves working there.
Live Search Process
All of these efforts are intended to help you quickly identify your very best candidates and move them through your recruiting workflow quickly and effectively.
- Cast a wide net to pull in as many candidates as possible through job boards, networks, associations, social media, referrals, etc. The idea is that the best candidate out of 100 is better than the best candidate out of 10.
- Use pre-screening application questions during the application process to identify the top tier candidates. This can be done by driving candidates to your career site – hitting the “Apply Now” button which allows them to enter contact info, upload a resume, and answer a small amount of questions that are weighted and scored. These questions should NOT be open text questions in an effort to make the application process quick and easy. Ask about location / the 3-4 must-have skills required to do the job / and compensation. The application process should not take more than 10 minutes TOTAL. You can always ask for more information when you have identified a solid match for an opening. My approach has always been to speak to candidates that I know are a fit and look for a reason NOT to present them. Too many recruiters speak to candidates that they hope are a fit and look for a reason TO present them – they reach, which ultimately wastes time.
- Every candidate who has taken the time to show interest in your company deserves a thank you email when they register or apply. When a candidate meets the minimum requirements for the opening, they deserve to be contacted to schedule a phone screen or interview. When a candidate is no longer being considered for a specific opening, they deserve to know that they weren’t a match and that you appreciate their efforts.
- Minimize phone tag with maximized technology. Technologies exist that allow you to share your calendar online so candidates can claim an open time for their phone screen/interview. This does not share what your other appointments are for the day – only that there are open times. The candidate clicks on one – enters their information – it syncs with your Outlook and schedules the call. This provides the freedom for a candidate over the weekend or late at night to schedule a time with you when you are available. Tungle.me is one that I like.
- Script it. Have your phone screen questions scripted ahead of time. This allows you ask every candidate the same questions every time. Why does this matter? Candidates should be evaluated equally and fairly. It provides data that can be referred to in the future. It defends yourself against claims of bias or discrimination. It provides the hiring manager with the reasons why you felt this candidate was good enough to move forward – and allows the hiring manager to quickly change the screening criteria if they notice that something has been misunderstood or omitted.
- Review the total candidate and not just skills/experience. Every recruiter and recruiting firm can take a job description, look at the bullet points, and go find people who have the skills and experience that match up with the majority them. But that doesn’t mean that they are a great candidate. A great candidate is one who is excited about the opportunity, has the skills and experience needed to do the job at a functional level, and who has the right motivators, drivers, behaviors, and personality to fit within the existing team and make it flourish. The skills and experience are only ½ of the candidate. The other is how they view the team, the role, and how they approach their work each day. We have an Industrial Psychologist as part of our team and we put in a lot of effort in making sure we screen the TOTAL candidate prior to submitting him/her to a hiring manager through the use of online assessments. The use of online assessments regarding skill sets should be considered as well. This allows some confidence that the most qualified candidate – from all angles – is being presented.
- Don’t leave your managers guessing. A candidate who is being presented should have a significant amount of information gathered by the recruiter – packaged together – and then forwarded to the hiring manager. I would suggest one document – saved as a PDF – that contains: Candidate Summary / Resume / Application Screening Questions / Phone Screen Questions and candidate responses / and behavioral/personality/skill assessment results. Your hiring managers should be able to assess what type of candidate they are reviewing more quickly and efficiently by removing a lot of the guessing that has previously been required.
- Do the leg work. To speed up the hiring process, take on the responsibility of scheduling all interviews for the hiring manager. That manager has lots of other things that occupy their time, so take charge and find out when they manager is available for interviews and go schedule them. There needs to be a sense of urgency. If this is a great candidate for you, then they are likely a good candidate for someone else too, so don’t lose them by playing phone tag for days. This allows you to go over the details of the search again with the candidate – making sure all forms necessary have been completed – making sure they know the expected dress for the interview – what to take with them – etc.
How do you accomplish these things quickly and efficiently?
In the past few years, I have seen the trend be to use technology for as much of the process as possible, almost making the recruiter obsolete, but not quite. In my studies of the next generation workforce that is replacing the Baby Boomers, I don’t believe this approach will work. I see that it needs to be a blend of human touch and technology for the recruiting process to be effective. The next generation is highly collaborative and value human interaction and assurances. But we also have the technologies today that can enhance the recruiting experience and make it work more efficiently. So they must work in unison.
The recruiting process that I described above is achievable if you have the right people working with the right technologies. I have implemented several Applicant Tracking Systems over the years, and I have gone through demos on just about all of them. The one that I think is best prepared to handle this type of process would be HireDesk from Talent Technology. I don’t work for them. I don’t receive any type of income from them. I just believe in their tool. In it, you have the ability to have the pre-screen application questions weighted and scored, a dashboard that shows you who your top tier candidates are, each requisition is uniquely customizable and you can do these customizations yourself (not have to have new programming done). You can build your phone screen script into the requisition and fill in the answers real time with the candidate. They have an integration set up that allows you to directly tie into assessment vendors and other 3rd party vendors so that everything flows through your ATS. They have a very impressive sourcing tool built in that allows you to simultaneously source candidates from all of the resume databases that you have accounts with like Monster, CareerBuilder, Linked In, Facebook, etc., eliminating the need to go to one – search – log out and then go log in to a different one – search – log out – etc. When you have a new search that has gone live, it has a function called Match/Notify. It looks through the candidates already within your talent pool, matches their skills with the skills required for the role, and notifies them of the new opening and asks them to consider applying for it. It comes with Hiring Manager Portals so your managers can review candidates from within the tool itself and you can set permissions on what they can see and do. It has robust reporting capabilities so you can pull data from every tab and field in the tool.
If you are looking for a robust ATS, and you feel like this recruiting process makes sense for your organization, I would suggest that you contact them. By the way, when evaluating any technology – KNOW YOUR PROCESS FIRST AND FIND THE ONE THAT MATCHES IT. I get irritated by the posts on Linked In that say, “Looking for a new ATS – what’s the best?” or for the stupid lists that people put out there ranking one over another. You can’t possibly rank them or suggest one without knowing what you need it to do first.
Your ATS is only a piece. You also have the online calendar functionality – Tungle.me is what I use. You also would want to look into the ability to send bulk text messages. The response time for a text message, on average, is 4 minutes. How many of you have emails, right now, that have been sitting in your Inbox for days unopened? Get my point?
Social media blasts are effective – Tweetdeck helps you organize from one place and not have to log in to each separate site.
How about doing video calls with candidates that you are building a rapport with – a little more personal and far more interactive – Skype or ooVoo are great tools for this.
All of these efforts are intended to help you make the hiring process as streamlined as possible, and make wise decisions when it comes to the selection of a candidate.
- Teach them what they don’t know. A lot of hiring managers feel totally inadequate and unprepared to interview candidates. Sometimes we, as recruiters, forget that not everyone talks to candidates all day like we do. Provide training for all managers. Help them to know what they can and cannot ask, how to evaluate the information that you have provided to them, and how to get the most out of the time they spend with candidates. This will go a long way in helping them make a decision.
- Provide scorecards. Have you ever interviewed someone and then immediately had to run to another meeting or two or three, and by the time you returned to your desk, you had either forgotten some of the information about a candidate or confused them with someone else? If a manager uses a scorecard to measure a candidate in pre-determined areas, then he/she can allocate a number score to each section and then evaluate overall at the end. This is useful when interviewing several candidates in keeping them separate and avoiding confusion. It also helps with providing feedback to you that can ultimately be passed along to the candidate.
- Offer to help with the offer. Use the rapport, trust, and relationships that you build to your advantage. You can have a much more honest and constructive conversation with a candidate than a hiring manager whom they just met and will likely be reporting to. Find out what concerns (if any) both sides have and address them from a positive point of view. If there is a difference on an acceptable compensation, it would likely be helpful if you negotiate the two sides and try to find an agreement.
- Close before it’s time to close. A good recruiter should be closing the candidate long before an offer comes. Discussing concerns, needs, what they like about the opportunity, what happens if a current employer makes a counter-offer, etc. How to handle concerns and turn the conversation into a positive is the difference between an average recruiter and a great one.
All of these efforts are intended to help you make a great impression on your new hire, while capturing the needed paperwork.
Make it memorable. Your newly hired employee will no doubt be excited about joining your organization. The way you respond to that new employee will set the tone for their first days. Be prepared and organized. Have answers available for any questions they might have. Take the time to show them around and introduce them to others they will interact with. Make sure someone has cleaned their desk and has the needed equipment ready for them. Establish a training schedule and a point of contact that the new hire can go to with any questions or issues. I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken with someone who just accepted a job and that excitement that they felt was quickly gone because of their onboarding experience and it feeling like they surprised the company when they showed up the first day – no desk ready, no computer, no phone, and just handed an operations manual and told to read it until a game plan could be established. Be enthusiastic and celebrate their new job with the new hire.
Metrics / Evaluation Process
All of these efforts are intended to help you reflect, analyze and improve from one hire to the next.
Learn from success – Cost per Hire / Source Tracking. Track where the candidates who are hired originally heard about your opening. You may find that you are spending a significant amount of money paying for a premium job board, when a less expensive niche board is where you are finding consistent success. Maybe internal referrals are the source of the majority of your hires and you could eliminate expenses somewhere else and offer referral rewards for employees.
Check efficiencies – Time to Fill. Where have your searches slowed consistently? Is there an issue in getting timely feedback after an interview? How long is it taking candidates to complete online assessments? Know where the bottlenecks are and address them.
Do you know the profile? How many candidates needed to be submitted in order to make a hire? Maybe the job description wasn’t well defined or accurate. Maybe the hiring manager had differing expectations about a qualified candidate. Or maybe there was an issue in communicating the need to the recruiter.
Your ATS should be able to pull adhoc reports from every tab and every field to get you the data that really matters.
Honest evaluation. Create a brief survey to send to the hiring manager, as well as the top 3 candidates, and get their feedback on the process. This gives a fresh perspective from managers who don’t do this sort of thing all day, and feedback from candidates can be extremely helpful as they have experienced what other organizations are doing and give you a unique perspective.
Raising the Roof – Executive Support
As with any major initiative, executive support is critical to its success. The truth is, this type of recruiting structure may be radically different than what is currently in place. It may require additional staff, technologies, and funding for new strategies like the college recruiting emphasis. You need to be able to illustrate WHY these things matter, how they will IMPROVE current efforts, and what the ROI is for these changes.
WHY? – Generational changes impact the effectiveness of how a company communicates with a candidate. This generation is the first to grow up with the internet accessible to them throughout their entire lifetime. Consider how that changes their perceptions and approaches to finding a job.
IMPROVE – A lot of companies never consider how their recruiting impacts their overall corporate branding initiatives. Most candidates are disgusted with the recruiting processes that companies have in place. They apply, spend two hours completing all kinds of questionnaires, giving up private information, and getting their hopes up when the company never even bothers to provide any feedback whatsoever. It damages the company’s brand, not just with the candidate, but with everyone that candidate tells of his/her experience.
ROI – The return on investment could be felt in a variety of ways. The metrics and evaluation of the program is critical to establishing where you have been, but also will prove the savings in the future. Better people means better productivity. Better technologies mean the ability to streamline processes. Hiring based on the TOTAL candidate means lowering turnover and ultimately saving money. Knowing where you are getting the most return for your advertising dollars helps you to not throw away money at places that are yielding no return. AND, with the technologies mentioned in this session, your recruiters should see increased bandwidth meaning you may not need to add any additional staff, although some responsibilities and priorities may need to change.
You can have the best processes and killer technologies possible, but unless you have the right people driving these things – it could be a failure. I played golf one day with the CEO of a previous company where I was on staff. We started talking about comp plans and motivators and incentives. He was of the opinion that people will only work hard and go that extra mile if you offer an appealing incentive to them. Maybe some of you think that as well. I disagreed with him. I reminded him of when I started at an entry level position within the company and knew nothing about the industry at all. I consistently worked 70-80 hours per week, and all I received was a base salary – no commissions, no incentives, no awards. And then we moved forward to the role I was in at that moment. I still worked very hard, was the number one producer for the firm, and now I made a base plus commissions for the work I did and made a lot more money. The size of my paycheck changed, but the work ethic behind it didn’t. See, even when I had no incentives – I still worked hard because it was the right thing to do. And when I started making more, I still worked just as hard because it was the right thing to do. I told him that he could make me straight salary and offer no commissions or bonuses to me and I will still work just as hard and care just as much.
The problem with hiring people who need an incentive to perform is that one day, that incentive isn’t strong enough anymore and you either have to increase it, or go find their replacement because they won’t stick around. The person you need to hire is the one who does what is right, even when no one else is looking. The person who feels the responsibility to work hard each day because it reflects on their integrity, ethics, and the kind of person they are. Get a team full of people like that, and provide them with the tools and technologies and resources we discussed here today, along with executive support and confidence that these are the right strategies….NOW you have a world class recruiting organization!