Sharpen three areas of expertise to get the job done right
Sourcing gets all the attention these days. Last week I wrote
about new technologies for sourcing talent and our recent recruiting
trends survey (results and a summary will be available here in two
weeks), which shows that broadening sources of candidates is the
number-one focus for organizations of all sizes.
Never before have these words been truer: Finding the right
people is difficult. And finding great people takes a strategy, not
just more of what you currently do.
Simply broadening candidate sources and using more people and
money to expand your search process may result in finding more
candidates, but it is a crude way to do it.
Henry Ford could have conceivably hired thousands of people
and trained them to craft entire cars. But if he had done that, car
prices would have actually increased and he could never have
achieved the volumes he did. What Henry Ford did was to rethink the
process and do it a smarter and better way.
We need the same approach in recruiting, and that will require you to
develop three areas of expertise.
Research which positions are most critical to your
organization. I define critical as positions that directly generate
revenue; have a significant customer involvement or relationship; or
invent or create your organization's products and services. Everyone
else, by definition, is less critical.
Focus your sourcing efforts on finding those kinds of people.
Perhaps as much as 80% of your staff and budget should be devoted to
sourcing and recruiting these people, as they will be the primary
reason your organization will stay profitable.
If you are devoting significant resources to finding people for
non-critical positions, think about outsourcing that work or find
other ways to meet the needs for these people.
Next is Focus
Develop a focused sourcing strategy. By determining where
your best hires have come from and through meeting with key
performers, you should be able to identify the best potential
sources of the kinds of people you are seeking.
Focus your recruiting efforts on those channels that you know
will deliver good people to you most of the time. Good channels are
characterized by three things:
1. They have enough members to be a reliable source.
2. The members are close to each other and network together.
3. It has members who meet your key position requirements.
Good channels of candidates include professional
associations, conferences, and sporting events, as well as your own
referral programs. Your imagination is the only limit as to where to
find potentially good people. But it does mean you have to get out
of the office and start networking. Talk to your key incumbents and
be sure to experiment.
An organization I have worked with polled its key position holders and
found that many were science-fiction buffs who also enjoyed marathon
events such as running and biking. They then diverted sourcing
dollars and people to sponsor marathon events and ran movie trailers
about their company during science-fiction movies. They developed a
targeted referral program for this group as well. This targeted
effort lowered sourcing costs significantly and also doubled the
Another organization treated any employee who invited a
colleague from another company who met their basic qualifications
and brought along a resume to a free gourmet lunch and a meeting
with the function leader. This was a popular and very successful
practice that was repeated two or three times a year. Again, success
was significant and costs and staff requirements were minimal.
Focus is far more effective than a broad shotgun approach.
However, it does take time to determine which positions are most
critical and to locate the sources that will pay off the best.
Finally, It's About Brand and Strategy
Effective leadership also has to look at the long term with
the same vigor it looks at the short term. Successful companies
focus on achieving current recruiting goals using all the
traditional methods, as well as on developing longer-term strategies
to build pools of candidates that can be tapped later.
It is not true that if you build a great strategy or a great
organization that people will flock to your doors. Getting people
aware of your organization is a tough job. It requires having a
consistent communication process, a plan to raise general awareness
through advertisements, promotions, or by getting listed as a "best"
place to work.
Your messages have to be able to answer questions like, "What
makes your company different or unique for me?" or "Why would I want
to come work for you?" You should make sure your advertising, Web
presence, and overall corporate advertising support this image and
attract the key people you most need. This has to be an
organizational-wide effort and it takes time and an accumulation of
messages to be effective. One or two advertisements or a handful of
posters won't do it.
Over the long term, you will need to build a social network
that attracts even people who are not looking for a job right now,
but who may be later. Encourage all kinds of people who have the
basic set of skills you need to be a part of your network.
While building the network is in itself important, it is even
more important to make sure you spend the time to develop
communication tools and messages that are interesting enough to keep
potential candidates interested. Channels and social networks have
to be "worked" all the time and are not much good if they are only
tapped when you have an open position. The whole idea of a talent
community is to have it there when you need it. CRM is a proactive
Every hunter I know uses the same tactics I have described
above to find the animals he wants. Only the really unsuccessful
hunters get our their shotguns and simply hope they bag something.
Developing targeted sources for key positions, building
channels and networks, and practicing good communication will pay
you back many, many times over.