Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Proactive Recruiting: How to Build A Powerful Proactive Strategy

To improve recruitment metrics taking a more proactive approach will furnish more successful results. Taking on a more proactive recruitment process means engaging with folks long before a position comes open by building a pipeline of qualified talent that is ready to be put into place as soon as a position is available. For many companies the challenge is time. There are so many active openings that there isn’t enough time to pipeline for future ones. Another challenge is resources. Who should be responsible for working proactively to find qualified talent? Companies that don’t have a set plan and set list of guidelines in place with always run into issues and challenges with proactive recruiting practices.

Everyone within an organization should be responsible for bringing top talent to the company. While recruitment teams are put in place internally to drive the recruitment strategy and the process, it should not be the sole department being held accountable for where the talent comes from, how we find the talent or how successful that talent becomes once brought on board.

The talent drivers within the organization should first be the recruiters, if there are any, or the Human Resource department, second should be the managers themselves and following them should be the rest of the organization including executive leadership down to every day employees within the organization.

Most companies don’t hold themselves accountable across the organization for recruitment metrics. Most organizations weigh that load on the Human Resources department. With that in mind, managers can tend to point the finger and not take any responsibility when the heat is on to fill a position that has been open for a long time.

The primary measurements for recruitment encompass Time to Fill and Cost per Hire. Other metrics that play into recruitment is success level of new hires and retention rates. All are indicators of a strong or weak recruitment process.

In many companies it is also mostly driven by reactive recruitment, depending on the demand of the quantity of openings across the organization. Most managers and HR departments feel they have too many other day to day responsibilities on their plates to focus on recruiting as a priority prior to the day an opening exists. Reactive Recruitment is the process of waiting to recruit for a position until it becomes actively open. Reactive activities typically consist of posting a job on careers sites internally/externally and on other job boards. It is a typical “sit and wait” approach. Some positions can be filled successfully this way…notice the word some. However, most job postings do nothing but attract masses unqualified applicants.

So how does a company develop a powerful proactive strategy? Proactive Recruiting = “Always Be Looking”.

Follow these guidelines and success will be undeniable.

1. Get everyone involved: Everyone throughout the company should be involved proactively in looking for talent that could be a potential next employee. Our employees are brand ambassadors. Especially those that are in a customer facing role. Sales people engage with other people outside of the company on a daily basis. Someone at a next client meeting or networking function could be a potential prospect. Sales people should be the best at “selling” someone on the company.
Managers should also always be “casually interviewing” for potential future openings in the same way as sales people. Using their industry knowledge and knowing the competition in the area gives keen insight into who else is out there.

2. Hold Managers Accountable: Managers should be held accountable to numbers and feel the sense of urgency just the same as HR and Recruiters. Performance plans should include these metrics. If they don’t feel a sense of urgency how can they expect others to? Managers should also be held accountable to constantly be interviewing and engaging with prospects on a regular basis. It should become a second nature and not an odd occurrence.

3. Contact them before someone else does: Being proactive means taking the initiative to reach out to those that maybe haven’t considered a career change. Recruiting in a sense is selling. It is important to reach out to those in the market that are known well and have a solid track record. There are other companies and recruiters out there being proactive as well. If you don’t find them and engage, then most likely someone else will and you could miss out on a potential top candidate.

4. Stay Engaged: Once you have made initial contact with prospects it is important to stay connected with them. Social Networks have made it easier to stay connected through sites like Linkedin and Facebook which help keep potential applicants more engaged throughout the “courting” process. Even when you don’t have a position open in a specific area, staying connected with business updates and even personal changes can keep these potential prospects interested in still considering making a move in the future.

It is also possible to stay engaged outside of social networks as well. If you are not actively participating in social networks keep communication with potential prospects through email and phone contact on a regular basis. Set up reminders in your outlook calendar to reach out to say hello.

5. Always be honest. If there isn’t an active opening available make sure that you are completely honest with the candidate. Let them know that they are only being considered for future openings and that there is no immediate opening. Give them an idea of a potential timeline. Granted a position could come open any day for unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances, but giving them some sort of expectation will leave them feeling more at ease and not put a bad taste in their mouth later on. If it could be a year before anything opens that is okay, just let them know upfront. Odds are through if they are actively looking for a change now, they may not be available once an actual opening arrives.

How to source for Proactive Prospects and How to NOT:

Proactive sourcing is a whole different ball game from sourcing for open jobs. Posting a position and using the “sit and wait for them to apply” approach throws up many red flags in a proactive sourcing process. Proactive Postings cause several implications. The first issue with proactive job postings is that it impedes the ability to adhere to number 4 above, “Always be Honest”. Posting a job that is not actively open is misleading. Even if the ad states that the posting is for proactive purposes most of the people applying actively for jobs are those in need of an immediate job. So while interviewing candidates that apply to a proactive job requisition may seem like a good idea, in the long run it will cause more issues. The three major issues include:

1. Candidates that apply to job postings are typically actively looking for a job in the immediate future. Passive candidates are generally not out searching for jobs now.

2. Candidates with more immediate needs tend to be very persistent in follow up. Even through you may tell them up front it is for proactive purposes they are not likely to sit and wait for you to call them back when a position is open. They will call continuously and may become more of a nuisance than anything.

3. Candidates actively seeking employment will most likely be off the market by the time a position within the company finally comes open. For those that are truly very unhappy in their current job or are currently unemployed; they can’t just wait for a position to come open within the company. They will continue to actively interview with other companies and if they are any good it won’t take long for them to find employment.

The best way to source for proactive candidates is through good old fashioned cold calling and networking. The best proactive candidates are those that are actively employed and happy with where they are. You won’t find them posting their resumes to job boards or applying to active job openings. They are too busy being top performers for their current employers to stop and take a look at what else could be available. Not even job advertisement, as big and bold as they may be, can typically lure or entice someone that hasn’t even thought about a career change.

That is why managers and other costumer facing employees become a pivotal piece of this process. Even if they don’t actively engage with the prospect themselves, handing off leads to the recruitment team can speed up the process of finding great talent.

Seeking out talent and staying engaged with them is truly what it takes to make a proactive process successful. I hope this has helped guide you in the right direction for building a solid proactive process.

Happy Hunting!!!

Additional articles of reference:

“It’s All About Talent Communities” Jeffrey Wheeler, May 21st 2009:
“Lean Sourcing and Recruiting; Just In Time Recruiting” Boolean Black Belt, December 2008:
“Job Posting vs. Searching for Candidates” Boolean Black Belt October 5th 2009:
“Proactive or Reactive Recruitment?” Blog By Frank Pacheco 2005:
“Stop Holding Us Back! Problems and Roadblocks in Recruitment”, Dr. John Sullivan, March 22nd, 2004:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Optimizing the Candidate Experience

It has become an active topic of discussion on recent blogs and discussion boards across the recruiting industry. For a long time third party recruiters and candidates have shared bad experiences with companies that seem to not care much about the candidate experience. Even more so today with the unemployment level still at record highs companies are being inundated with applicants. Recruiters and hiring managers are being flooded with resumes, emails, voicemails, referrals from friends, family and colleagues, etc to current job openings. Providing the most optimal candidate experience has never been more challenging.

However, even though we are overwhelmed with mostly unqualified candidates, giving them an unsatisfatory experience can lead to many major issues once the market does turn around and jobs aren't so scarce. One candidate that is unqualified for one position within the company could be the best choice for another potential role. Candidates that have unhappy experiences are also typically the ones that find ways to express and share their experiences:

I encourage all of you to re-evaluate your current candidate process and think about the experience you and the hiring managers are giving to candidates. Remember the saying?... "Treat others the way you would want to be treated". What type of experience would you want to have if you were a candidate? It is definitely something we should continue to think about.

I have copied a link to the recent ERE Blog as well as pasted an upcoming webinar sponsored by Taleo.

ERE Blog: "You Should Be Ashamed"

ERE Webinar:Optimizing The Candidate Experience:Enhancing Your Recruiting Programs

Join HR executives and other technology-decision makers for a one-of-a-kind webinar, "Optimizing The Candidate Experience: Enhancing Your Recruiting Programs."

There is no cost to attend this event. The event is free, thanks to the support of our sponsor, Taleo. Simply complete the registration form in full* and you'll be provided with the call-in details and URL for this online presentation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Networks and Employment Law

This topic has been mentioned on a few occasions but has not been heavily addressed since technology is changing at such a fast pace that the legal system has barely been able to keep up. But this ebook put out by PeopleClick just this week really does a great job of summing up what typically may seem like common sense to some but could easily get someone in a law suit if they aren't careful.

So I encourage all of you to check out this ebook on Employment Law as it relates to Social Networking. It has some really great points that we should all be sure to remember as we continue to use social networks, like Linkedin and Facebook, as a major source for recruiting.

Link to ebook:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Facebook for Professional Networking

Although Facebook was built as a social network and most people treat it as such – there is a tremendous amount of professional value that can be gained there.

The major concern by business professionals is that they don't want to blend their personal and professional lives. Facebook makes it very easy to keep your personal information private from those you interact with on solely a professional level. There are several blogs out there that give step by step directions on how to do that. So instead of reinventing the wheel I have pasted the URLs to several of the blogs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Longer a Candidate's Market: The Corporate Recruiters Challenges in Today's Economy (Part 1)

Just over a year ago the buzz in the market was all about how much today is a buyer’s (candidate’s) market and how there were more jobs than there was talent to fill the openings. From about 2001 to the end of 2007 the economy was souring and the number of jobs being created was increasing at fast rates. During this time the anticipation of the baby boomers retiring as the economy continued to boom created one major question in every recruiter’s mind -“How are we going to find the talent we need to fill our openings?”

The numbers were staggering to think about:
• 44 million Gen “X”ers in the workforce to replace 77 million retirees
• 11,000 people are reaching age 55 every day

The new reality is that there is no longer a shortage of talent. So while these statistics don’t necessarily cause panic in the hearts of hiring professionals today, a new concern has risen. As the economy began taking a noticeable downturn in January 2008 and as the unemployment level continues to rise at a substantial rate, the new concern is not the quantity of candidates to source from, it is finding the quality of candidates amidst all the piles and lists of unqualified applicants. Seventy percent of organizations globally report difficulty attracting critical-skill employees, and 67 percent report that it’s hard to find top-performing employees, according to the results of the 2007/2008 Global Strategic Rewards survey taken among 946 companies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

The current problem facing us is that the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 16 years. In June of 2009 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate at 9.7%. The last time it was above 8% was in January of 1992 when it hit 8.1%. Just a year ago in June of 2008 the unemployment rate was at 5.7%.

While new challenges in finding top talent have surfaced, the message on how to find the right talent does not really change at all. Company’s still need to market themselves to target the right audiences. We may advertise or push our brand in new ways but the underlying goals remain the same. We still need to answer the same questions: “Who is the target audience?” “How do you find or reach them?” “What are we offering?” “What are our competitors offering?” and “How do we engage them?”.

So what can we do as recruiters and HR professionals to answer these questions and target the audience we are looking to attract to our company? The best thing to remember is that Recruiting is Marketing. Recruiters and Hiring Professionals are advocates for the company. We have to market the company to potential applicants through strong job advertisements, career site enhancements, building up of networks internally and externally, embracing to new technologies such as internet marketing and social networking and much more. The way to overcome hiring challenges is to stay ahead of the game. We need to keep on top of market trends and new technologies. And we need stay abreast of what active candidates are doing to find a new job and what proactive prospects are doing and how we can find them.

So what do we conquer first? The simplest and easiest to overcome and enhance would be job postings. Job postings are simply advertisements for the company. In additional to a traditional description a job posting is an opportunity to market something about the specific division or business unit. It also allows the company to give a taste into what the company culture is like or maybe intrigue them to learn more about our products and services.

In a nationwide study in 2007 it showed that an average of 41% of applications are directly tied to the internet. Internal research into my own company confirmed that those statistics are in line with our applicant pool in recent years as well. That means that affective job advertisements are crucial in attracting the right talent.

The first step in writing a great job advertisement is in the job description. All too often job descriptions are far too long, far too short or otherwise just not clear. Some companies tend to focus so much on marketing the company that the description itself does not give clarity to the actual position being advertised or even of the division in which the position is located. On the other hand job descriptions that are far too lengthy and detailed will scare away many applicants from applying. So on one hand you don’t want to be too vague and have every Tom and Jane applying for the position but you also don’t want to scare away those that may not be perfect for the job but could still be a considerable candidate. It is important to find middle ground.

Before posting a job on a career site or external board I would recommend saving the job description as a word document for editing and review. That way you can visually see what it will look like before posting it out for others to see. Then think about who your target audience is going to be and make sure it is written for that target audience.

Secondly, you should begin the advertisement with an attention grabber, something to entice applicants to want to keep reading. Use powerful and attractive words to set the appropriate tone and message. Highlight something great about the position or about the division. Then give a full description of the position followed by the qualifications for the role.

Remember to make sure that the wording is properly formatted and that there are no grammatical errors. Keep in mind that it is important to adhere to company brand. We want the first impression of the company to be as positive as possible...

Stay tuned for part 2 on additional ways to overcome recruiting challenges in today's market.....

Resources referenced:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Corporate Approach to Social Networking

Many corporations today are adopting Web 2.0 approaches for boosting business, brand, recruiting, etc. You’ll see icons for sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Linkedin, and others on many corporate sites today. Microsoft’s corporate website is an obvious example of a company that has incorporated Web 2.0 in every sense. While some other corporations are more conservative than others and therefore a little more hesitant, ultimately by 2012 use of Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 will be a necessary business function. Before corporate social networking can be successful there are several approaches that need to be well defined and organized.

Prior to Initiating Social Networking for a Corporation:

Anyone from a company can go out and create a company group on sites like Linkedin and Facebook. The problem with these sites is that the company cannot control what people say and what type of groups people create. Having defined groups created by the corporation and controlled by the corporation just like the company website itself can help draw people away from the other groups and sites that may not have controlled materials, appropriate direct company contact, etc. To have a successful corporate created social networking site first consider the following:

1. Define Objectives: Set specific expectations and goals. What is it that you are looking to accomplish with using the social networking sites? Is it increasing client or potential client traffic to the site? Is it building overall company brand, is it keeping contact with current and past employees, is it attracting the best talent to the organization? Maybe all of the above. It is important to first set the expectations of what the company wants to accomplish with the adoption of the social media and then set a plan.
2. Have a set plan: Once the initial objectives are defined, it is important to set a plan of adoption. Determine who needs to be involved in the process and who will maintain the social networking sites. Often times individuals from several areas of the company need to be involved depending on how large the company is. Legal department’s needs to be involved to make sure the sites are structured and maintained as set by company standards. Marketing teams can develop appropriate branding materials to make the sites more user friendly and desirable to visit. Then you need to determine who is going to run and maintain the sites from day to day. Maintaining all the social networking sites can be a time consuming task. Is there a task team assigned to it, is there one specific individual hired to maintain such sites for the company. That needs to be determined prior to deployment to make sure everyone is on the same page and everything runs smoothly prior to launch of promoting the sites.

Key Approaches to Building Successful Social Networking Sites:

1. Listen to the customers/prospects: Whether is it existing clients and employees or potential new hires or potential revenue producing clients, it is important to listen to those that view and respond within the networking sites. Prospects want to know they are being heard and know that a real person is hearing what they have to say and giving a constructive response when it is needed.
2. Be Responsive: Responding to prospects or viewers makes the company seem more real and inviting. Even using automatic response to send a thank you for visiting our site, gives visitors and followers an initial sense of belonging and appreciation.
3. Communication: While the company’s ultimate goal is to attract clients and make a sale, these sites are meant to be more subtle and a way for prospects to interact with us without feeling pressured to buy or do something. These sites are meant to be a communication portal to those that typically may not be heard or seen though other resources.
4. Track/Measure Successful: Review interaction on the sites, track responses and feedback from customers and other followers. Are the sites yielding a positive return? If they aren’t then you need to go back and make sure the objectives are still in line with what you initially expected them to be and the approach may just need some tweaking. If it is doing well see what else can be done to increase awareness and use of the sites.