Single Thing You Must Do to
Become a Better Recruiter in 20XX
Make the effort to hire top talent
This article describes the most important factor involved in
individual-recruiter success. From my personal dealings with over
2,500 corporate and third-party recruiters in the last five years,
it seems that only 10-15% of recruiters develop this to improve
their overall performance. In the past year, I've written a number
of articles about the importance of applicant control understanding real job needs, and, while
these are vitally important, they are far less effective without
this third factor in place.
But first, a little background.
We're almost finished with our annual Recruiting and Hiring Challenges Survey for
2008. While there were many
problems highlighted, including handling too many requisitions, the
lack of effective technology, and the declining effectiveness of job
boards, five problems were ranked by nearly everyone as significant
or of huge concern. Since more than 600 recruiters participated from
corporations and independent recruiting firms, these results can be
considered statistically relevant.
The one problem that stood out from everyone else was
predictable: 96% of the respondents indicated that they were not
seeing enough strong candidates for important positions, and 78%
said that this was a growing problem of major concern or a huge
current problem. Better sourcing will not solve the root cause
problem; it will just mask it. The underlying challenge, and the
most important factor involved in making more placements, is
highlighted by the responses to four other questions. As you'll see,
they all involved problems with hiring managers.
Survey participants were asked to rank each of the problems
described below on a five-level degree-of-concern basis, from "Not a
Problem" to "A Huge Problem."
Hiring managers are not willing to devote the time
necessary to recruit top people. Eighty-two percent of
the respondents indicated this was a significant problem, with 60%
considering it a major growing problem or a huge current problem.
Although recruiters can't convince hiring managers to spend more
time here or to take time to recruit the best, this message is
important to get across somehow.
Hiring managers are not strong at assessing candidate
competency. It's hard enough finding good candidates, but
when 85% of the respondents indicate that this is a major problem,
and 60% indicate that it's growing or it's a huge problem now,
recruiters are just spinning their wheels. This is the primary
reason why new sourcing programs aren't the universal solutions to
a company's hiring challenges.
Managers overvalue skills, experience, and academics
before seeing candidates. Unfortunately, most managers
refuse to consider great candidates who have comparable, but not
identical, skills, or have achieved success in a different
industry or field. Eighty-four percent of survey participants said
that their managers were unwilling to bend their specifications
despite major sourcing challenges, and that this problem was
getting worse or it was already huge.
Managers are not strong at recruiting top
people. For a variety of reasons, top people don't want
to work for managers who aren't strong leaders and potential
mentors, so this is a problem that isn't going to go away without
some type of high-level intervention. An unbelievable 87% of those
taking the survey considered this to be a problem they were
currently facing, and while a few from this group indicated it was
manageable, 63% indicated it was worsening or it was already
affecting their ability to meet their recruiting targets.
Effectively coaching, developing, and guiding hiring managers in
a declining-supply-and-growing-demand recruiting environment is
essential if companies ever expect to meet their hiring needs for
new talent. This is the single most important factor preventing
companies from hiring more top talent. However, from what I can
tell, HR and recruiting executives are afraid to tackle this problem
While training recruiters can help a bit, and developing a series
of creative new sourcing programs can help a bit more, nothing will
overcome the bottleneck imposed by hiring managers' attitudes and
their inability to attract the best. With this in mind, here are
some ideas you might want to ponder:
Build a team of great recruiters. Great recruiters can offset some of the deficiencies in hiring managers.
If you're a recruiting manager, here's a unique 10-factor, self-evaluation scorecard
you should have all your recruiters take. This will allow you to
compare your team across 10 competencies we've found to be the
most predictive of top recruiter performance. If you are a
recruiter, you're invited to evaluate yourself, but reduce your
final score by 20% for a true reading. (There's always grade
inflation in any self-evaluation.)
Recruiters need to be partners, not vendors.
Recruiters who become partners with their hiring-manager clients
have the ability to minimize some of the hiring-manager recruiting
weaknesses. One aspect of becoming a partner involves having real
job knowledge beyond the job description. This is one of the
reasons recruiters who have performed the job they're now
recruiting for have more credibility with hiring managers and
candidates alike. Preparing a performance profile with the hiring
manager when the assignment is taken can help the recruiter better
understand real job needs. You might need to talk with a strong
person currently in the job to better understand what it takes to
be a top performer before you discuss the job with your
hiring-manager client. Hiring managers trust recruiters when they
understand the real work required for on-the-job success.
Clarify performance expectations up-front. As
far as I'm concerned, HR is remiss in not requiring hiring
managers to prepare something like a performance profile to get a
requisition approved. When managers know real job needs, they come
across to candidates as more insightful and knowledgeable during
the interview. All managers, even the weak ones, seem better when
they can describe real job needs to candidates. Managers also are
more likely to see a candidate who has achieved comparable results
even if he or she is a little light on the qualifications.
Clarifying expectations up-front has been shown to be the primary determinant of job
satisfaction and improved on-the-job performance. The
use of performance profiles also enables a company to integrate
its hiring, on-boarding, and performance-management process into
one common system.
Conduct more panel interviews. A well-conducted panel interview can help hiring managers who are
weak interviewers more accurately assess competency. As long as
the panelists don't stomp all over each other or overtly challenge
the interviewee, most candidates find panel interviews appealing
and appropriate. Panel interviews can also be used to mask some
hiring manager deficiencies as long as there is another strong
leader on the panel. This is a real aid in recruiting. Managers need to learn how to use solution selling
and needs analysis to position their open opportunities
as far superior to any others the candidate is considering.
Use an evidence-based assessment process. In
too many companies, the interview assessment is akin to a
popularity contest based on an archaic yes-or-no voting
system. The hiring decision should be based on a
deliberative evidence-sharing process. This is particularly
important when unskilled managers are given full voting rights or
base their decisions on a narrow range of competencies. This
change alone will prevent many good people from being excluded due
to a weak assessment process.
Any new sourcing program that is implemented to meet the hiring
demands of the future will be far less effective than possible
unless the problems associated with hiring managers are addressed
first. While recruiters can be of some assistance here, leadership
at the HR-executive level is required to change the outdated and
clumsy recruiting, interviewing, and assessment processes used by
Companies with great brands and compelling stories will always be
able to attract the best. For everyone else, the solutions require
creativity, leadership, and hard work. The effort is all worth it if
hiring top talent is considered a major strategic