Monday, February 20, 2012

Recruitment Sourcing Magic: What’s in a Title?

When you are sourcing candidates, do you source by title, skills, or both? When recruiters tell me they search by titles only, they may be attempting to recruit the wrong candidates. Why?

In the US we sometimes seem too concerned about titles and not enough about the work to be accomplished. Therefore, janitors become maintenance engineers. Then maintenance engineers in LEED Certified buildings become Directors of Green Facilities (I made that title up – I think!). Sales professionals become Business Developers, Account Representatives, Account Managers, etc. At Microsoft, recruiters become Staffing Consultants.

In the early 1990’s I worked on a recruitment consulting/recruiting contract with a large multinational telecom firm. Their IT Senior Managers many times had staffs of 100 to 200 fulltime employees and possibly another 100 to 200 contractors. Then I went to a pre-IPO start-up telecom firm with an IT organization of 10 employees and a Director of IT. Which person had more responsibility, the Director of IT at the start-up or the Senior Manager with the large group?

If you were sourcing IT Directors would you have skipped over the Senior Manager? In many cases the answer is yes. The reason is most candidates do a poor job describing their responsibilities; and many recruiters do a poor job reading between the lines – and are tired of hearing the hiring managers complain that the candidates do not have the correct titles or level of experience. Sometimes, recruiters simply need to hold on to the edge of the cliff with their toes. I’ve had managers raise their voice when I presented a candidate with the wrong title and the right experience. When we went through their experience based on my phone conversation, they sheepishly backed off and agreed to interview the candidate. More than once, after hiring one of those candidates, hiring managers thanked me for my persistence.

How may corporate recruiters determine whether someone has the right skills? In this world of Taleo, iRecruit, and other Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that require completed applications prior to resume submission, companies pretty much get the desperate candidates. Occasionally one of those candidates may be a great fit with a wrong title. It is important to quickly size up a candidate’s resume and search for accomplishments and impacts. Then phone screen them prior to showing the resume to the hiring manager. If they have the wrong title and the right experience, the recruiter may present to the manager with the evidence of the right experience.

Better yet, try something different. Direct recruit the right person with the right experience. Ignore the title. If it happens to be a lower title in a larger organization, the title may give your company an edge when recruiting them. Almost everyone would like to go home to their family and say, “I was recruited for a Director/VP/better position today!”

I understand that for some people, direct recruit sourcing means going to the job board or calling a contingent recruiter. Direct recruiting means sourcing that person through networking using LinkedIn, Google, calls to other people you know in the industry. Use your ATS to identify other people in the organizations that you are targeting. Call them and ask whom they know? If they don’t mention the person in their company, ask who that is. Believe it or not, prior to the Internet fifteen years ago many recruiters made a nice living “smiling and dialing.” Many old timers still do. That is the reason we are Old Timers!

Bottom line – Build An Effective Job Description. Try sourcing at least some of your candidates using Direct Sourcing. Then look at candidates’ experience, not their titles. Phone screen to ensure they have the right skills and experience. When confident the candidate is a viable candidate, present them to the manager with confidence. This is more fun than being a recruiting clerk – and the positive, measurable impacts are greater!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Do You Confuse “Sourcing” with “Recruiting?”

“I recruit using Dice.” “I recruit using social media.” “I recruit using LinkedIn.” “What is the best job board to recruit Sales (or IT or Marketing or Finance, etc) candidates?” These are all questions I have seen repeatedly in recruitment Yahoo! Groups or in LinkedIn Groups.

It appears that many companies confuse sourcing with recruiting, possibly since many sourcing tools try to sell themselves as recruiting tools. While sourcing is certainly important, it is the third step in the recruitment sales process. All seasoned recruiters, corporate and third party, may leave the room…

The Recruitment Sales Process

1) Define a need – new or replacement employee
2) Develop a solution - Effective Job Description
3) Source available Qualified Candidates
4) Needs analysis – the interview
5) The Offer/Counter Offer conversation
6) Compensation Negotiation
7) Acceptance/Counter Offer conversation
8) New Employee Start/On boarding process

If there are eight steps in the Recruitment Sales Process, is “Recruiting” only step 3? Of course not!

When a Lean consultant is looking at a process to clean up wasteful steps, they look at the entire process to determine where they need to direct their attention first. For many companies the first step to stop and examine is the Job Description step. When a company takes a shortcut with the job description, they place the entire process at risk. Why? The job description drives sourcing, interviewing, selecting, and the first year of the candidate’s employment. Read “Building An Effective Job Description” at Recruiting Trends “Building An Effective Job Description”.

The second step to examine is the Sourcing step. Sourcing may be done actively and/or passively. I find it interesting when companies with great products and great brand loyalty do not capitalize on both when searching for candidates. The homepage is a great place to offer loyal customers the opportunity to work for them. Examine company websites. How difficult is it for potential candidates to find their list of open positions? Read Attracting Passive Candidates? to develop an understanding how quickly passive candidates (who may be among your best customers) leave your web pages. Does it benefit your company to mostly have the desperate candidates applying? Too many steps to submit a resume drives qualified candidates away. Understanding candidate practices is important for corporate and third party recruiters alike.

Do you source by networking and convincing passive candidates “just to spend a little time with me to discuss a position”? Congratulations! Now you are recruiting! Simply scooping resumes/applications out of an applicant tracking system or going through the resumes received from third party recruiting firms is a recruiting clerk’s job. As I’ve demonstrated many times, true recruiting is a Sales Process.

Now the recruiting is just beginning! How finely tuned is your interviewing process? Do you pre-screen candidates or do you simply float resumes to hiring managers without a screen? If you pre-screen candidates by interviewing them (phone is fine), you are still in the recruiting process. If you simply float the resumes to the hiring manager without a conversation with the candidates (whether you are a third party or corporate recruiter), you are a recruiting clerk. During that pre-screening conversation with the candidate, you discover their motivations to leave (even if they think they want to stay), their skills, their potential fit, potential interest, and begin the discussion of counter offers.

All of this, while very important, is still only step 3 of an 8 step process. Yes, recruiting is more than receiving resumes and passing them along. Effective full lifecycle recruiters (whether third party or corporate) earn their money because talent acquisition is key to a company’s growth (or poorly done, its demise).

Assuming we have qualified candidates on board with some levels of interest, let’s examine step 4 – Needs Analysis. Both the hiring manager and the candidate are conducting needs analysis during the interview.

Are your hiring managers trained how to create an effective interview and then conduct an interview that probes their candidates’ skills? If not, hiring managers are determining the best fit by their guts – not really the best way to determine the best fit. Therefore a seasoned recruiter will step in and provide some interview training for that manager. With an effective job description many times experienced recruiters know better whether a candidate is qualified or not to do a job than the hiring manager. A manager who is not trained how to effectively interview and select the best candidate also has a negative impact on retention – and raises recruiting costs by continually recruiting to fill the same position over and over. Read Critical Corporate Interviewing Improves Retention.

Meanwhile the candidates for the most part also do not know how to interview. Sometimes I wonder how the best matches ever happen! Effective recruiters prep their candidates on what to expect, how to highlight appropriate (not lie – highlight) skills and experience. The recruiter sells the candidate on the company, position, and the manager. Then they request that the candidate call them shortly after the interview for a debriefing.

Once the manager determines who they feel is the best fit, it is time to develop an offer. The seasoned recruiter already knows what the candidate is expecting for a compensation package and will coach the hiring manager how best to meet those expectations, especially if salary is an issue. By the way, once a manager has decided on a candidate – and before the recruiter has extended an offer – many will already begin to pencil that person into meetings. You better deliver!

The recruiter begins the offer process by reinforcing why the candidate is interested in the position. Once the recruiter has their interest again, it is time to extend the offer with the proper amount of enthusiasm. Sometimes the candidate will accept immediately. Sometimes they want more time to decide. Sometimes they receive a Counter Offer. Read “Countering The Counter Offer” on

The recruiter’s job is not complete until the candidate starts and becomes an employee. Therefore, recruiting is much more important than simply forwarding resumes.