The one, and possibly only, advantage of getting older is that you realize that déjà vu is a real thing. Most things that appear to be new are really older things wearing a new suit. Many companies today seem totally baffled by their recruitment and employment problems and are very out of touch with the market realities for talent. Yesterday for example, I had an HR Director tell me in surprise that his Indeed ad for a VP of Operations didn’t draw any even marginally good candidates. He even posted it on his LinkedIn wall, he said!!! The day before, a Director of Supply Chain asked Cathy if she had any good planners with MBA’s on her desk that he could send her. Anyone active or hot, she was asked.
Anyone who lives in employment would understand the disconnect between those questions and the reality of today’s market. Labor market tightness has snuck on most people and companies, but it is something I have seen before in my career. The intention of this White Paper is to help you and your firm make better strategic recruitment decisions based upon today’s market.
Before we get too deeply into that, here is what I hope you understand:
Candidate psychology has changed. No one looks for a job anymore. They wait for the job to come to them. That is why very few people answer ads. They know that inevitably the phone will ring and someone like me will call to describe a job in detail that might fit them. They hate throwing out resumes randomly and don’t really need to do that anymore because they hear about 5 or more new jobs a week.
No one is “looking” but everyone is “listening”. No one is “active or passive”. It all depends on the specific job or opportunity. Put the right job in front of a passive candidate and the person will change jobs. Put the wrong job in front of an active candidate and they will yawn.
Every position is executive search. There is no more bulk staffing at the professional level, especially if you want good people. Recruiters are not brokers or middle-men, as they were 10 years ago. They are an extension of your HR team.
If you were an IT recruiter in the late 90’s, today’s talent landscape looks familiar to you. The intensity of talent wars in that market is very similar to the general market now. There are fewer secondary areas in companies where marginal people can be parked. Every function is a front line function now and every hire requires a skilled committed person.
This has a profound effect for executives, managers and HR people. If you are a growing company that wants to excel, your internal functions need to be driven by the same philosophies that allowed IT and dot.com firms to grow from zero to hundreds of employees in a year in a competitive market. IT people never applied for jobs. Like most of today’s professionals they did not need to. The job came to them. Here are the things you can learn from IT and dot.com market from years ago –
At the end of the day, you will be judged on the quality of your staff. If you can’t be an active, positive participant in employment you will be an anchor to your HR person’s recruitment effort. Software Managers and VPs were rarely the best coders. But, they were personally involved in hiring and understood that their role was to be an advocate for the company to the candidate and to help, not hinder, a rapid recruitment pace. Back then, a software team was a code factory. A manager who was aloof from recruitment always had an understaffed and weak department – an unproductive code factory. A manager who understood that recruiting was a key part of their job got promoted. Today’s Plant Manager who complains that his HR team can’t find him or her a Quality Manager will have to explain to his/her VP Ops that metrics are being missed because there is an open slot in the organization. Whose fault is that???
An example from the past – at some companies a manager was required to respond to HR or a recruiter within a day about a resume. There was nothing more important than that. They got better service because they gave better service. Better service got them better people, quicker.
Generalists should not double as recruiters. Those are different functions. For many generalists, recruitment is evaluating ad response. If there is no ad response, there is no recruitment. HR is more complicated than 10 and 20 years ago and to ask a generalist to also actively recruit means that he or she will do both poorly. That is not fair.
Generalists and Business Partners should still be a key part of the recruitment process, though. There are two areas of contribution, one often overlooked.
- They should be an active part of the interview process and contribute in both cultural fit evaluation and in sending a positive message about the company. HR should be sure that EVERY candidate leaves with a positive impression and all important info like benefits, vacation, etc. HR should be the master-facilitator.
- Overlooked is strategy. You need a strategy to get the resume and the candidate in the door for an interview. How do you tell people about your need and convince them to explore it? You need an active message and a medium. That’s a far cry from just running blind box ads with the phrase “Resumes Submitted Without Salary Requirements Will Be Eliminated”.
HR must decide whether they want recruitment as an internal function or external function. That is a budget/company size choice. If your firm can afford 2 or more full-time recruiters and a recruitment infrastructure like a large Fortune 500 company, internal is a viable strategy. If not, external is the option.
In the past, most companies chose a recruitment vendor very casually. The company that filled the last job got the next job, etc. That worked until a job got difficult or it became clear the chosen recruiter was lucky with the initial placement. That tactic does not work now, it brings unpredictability into the recruitment process. Recruiters look for the easy job to fill and run from a difficult project. Companies need someone who understands their message to be their medium, not some yutz who was selling insurance last year.
An example from the past, most IT and dotcoms selected a vendor and worked with them as partners. From a large client like M&M Mars to small dotcoms, I often had to meet with the managers and HR people to get a mutual understanding of needs and expectations. They were hiring my firm to do a job- they were not buying a specific resume. HR needs to take the vendor selection process as seriously as the CFO takes the accounting firm selection process and the CEO takes the legal firm selection process. Sadly, we find that most do not.
Executives need to recognize the importance of recruitment to their corporate growth strategy and reinforce with managers that they need to take personal responsibility for department staffing. They also need to provide HR the tools (dollars) to create an internal or external recruitment structure.
An example from the past, Apple and another large IT firm (I think Google) used to have an agreement not to poach from each other. This was declared illegal in a court case. In reading about the court case one thing struck me. When Steve jobs, the single most impressive business person since Henry Ford, heard that a Google (?) recruiter had called one of his engineers, HE PERSONALLY PICKED UP THE PHONE AND CALLED THE OTHER CEO TO GET THAT RECRUITER FIRED!!!
Steve Jobs cared that much about talent and recruitment to dial his counterpart. That’s a priority.
So, of course, I want you to consider Right Recruiting in Blue Bell, PA as a recruitment vendor. That’s no surprise. Please contact me directly with any questions or comments.