Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Recruitment is easy, right?

All HR need to do is find recruitment partners who send as many CVs through as quickly as possible.  Well perhaps, if you base your success metrics purely on ‘time to hire’.  But what happens six months after the onboarding is complete?
In my experience, having recruited for both a global high-street recruiter and several niche industry-specialist recruiters over the past 20 years, many clients see recruitment as a cost rather than an investment, despite platitudes about people being their most important asset.
Viewing recruitment from this mind set leads to the assumption that lower cost and higher speed are good, in-depth discussions and anything else that slows things down are bad.
I have never understood this approach.  In today’s risk conscious world, especially, why would organisations hire key people on a purely transactional basis, blindly taking on the risk of engaging recruiters based on the speed of their service and lowest cost?
It makes me wonder whether those agreeing contracts with outside recruitment services have any understanding of the knowledge and skills that go into a high quality recruitment process.  Do organisations really want recruiters who will pull CVs off an online job board and email them through, in some cases without ever having spoken to the ‘candidate’?  That is the ultimate ‘high speed’ reaction to an ‘automated email alert’ of a vacancy, and means CVs can be uploaded onto the hirer’s system within minutes of the vacancy ‘going live’. 
Does this mean that the people who’s CVs are submitted are actually a good fit to the role?  Or to the company?  At best, it probably means that some of the keywords from the job description might be found on the CV.  At worst, it means the candidates have never heard of the organisation or the job, and will have to be persuaded to attend an interview if any of their CVs do happen to be a close enough match.
To help busy, stressed HR teams understand what makes up a high quality recruitment process, I thought I would share the process we follow here at Fabric:
Ensuring a full understanding of the job brief
  • What is the culture of the organisation?
  • Listing and also qualifying the duties of the role
  •  Discovering the department structure and fit into the organisations’ business model
  • Understanding the team dynamics and the personality which will fit well into the group
  • Finding out which technical skills &/or previous experience will enable the candidate to do the job successfully
This understanding can be gained much more easily and to a greater degree at a face to face meeting, ideally including the line manager as well as HR.  To save time when there is an urgent requirement, much of the information around organisational culture and department structures can be gathered during an earlier meeting.
Sourcing candidates
Good recruiters have a wealth of methods available to them to identify and source high quality, carefully matched, candidates to suit the job brief:
  • People they have already met, possibly several times over the years or at industry networking events, as well as during a registration interview
  • People on their database, who have submitted CVs either for earlier advertised vacancies or on spec, who may have had a telephone screening call
  • Advertising on the recruiter’s website, which if they are well known in their sector (why would you be using anyone else?) will be a regular port of call for both active job seekers and those ‘keeping an eye on the market/salaries’ and reading the recruiter’s blog/twitter posts
  • Advertising on niche job boards, appropriate to the functional &/or industry sector of the role or organisation
  • Candidates from all these sources would be screened, selected and then contacted for a detailed briefing on the job opportunity – these first steps may generate an initial shortlist to present to the client
The process doesn’t stop there, however.  However strong some of these candidates appear, it is likely that people who are an even better match haven’t been identified yet, usually because they aren’t actively job hunting.  The recruitment process should continue while the client reviews these initial CVs:
  • All candidates going through the screening process are asked for referrals of people they would recommend for the role
  • Research into relevant sectors and organisations, to identify passive potential candidates whose background is a good match to the person specification and other requirements of the job brief
  • Discreetly approaching those possible candidates – this requires skills to source the right people, make initial approaches, sell the role to them, sell the organisation to them, arrange times to meet and interview the candidate
  • These headhunted candidates also require a higher degree of management throughout the process and the clients must be prepared to play their part to, in order to promote their organisation, the team and the role to them and increase their desire to make a career move
Managing the process
A good recruiter’s job doesn’t end at the moment they have a shortlist of candidates ready to send to their client.  To maximise the chances of a successful hire (ie, not just getting an offer accepted, but the candidate starting in the role, passing probation and going on to be a valued team member), the recruitment process needs careful management:
  • Managing the expectations of both client and candidate(s) during the various interview stages, acting as a conduit for communication between the two
  • Preparing candidates for interview, covering technical as well as behavioural questions, background information on the organisation and its culture, down to practicalities like a map and directions
  • For candidates at final stage for permanent roles, working in partnership with the client to take up telephone peer references, focusing on productivity and performance of the candidate, the impact they had and how they worked within the team
  • Negotiation of an offer, once made, covering off any candidate concerns 
  • Assisting the successful candidate through the resignation (and possibly counter-offer) process
  • Informing other candidates in the process of the outcomes of their applications, passing on constructive feedback on their interview performance gained from the client
  • Keeping in regular contact with the successful candidate throughout their notice period to ensure they remain excited and engaged with the role up until their start date
  • Maintaining periodic contact with new starters and the client to ensure that any impending concerns are caught early and can be addressed effectively
As you can see, a good recruitment service is much more than searching a job board or database and emailing over a few CVs.  It is, above all, a people centred process that cries out for a focus on quality of service, not on speed/cost.  That is the best way to mitigate the risk of a bad hire.

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