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!