Although I have done a lot of recruiting in my career, until I became a consultant I have always recruited as an employee within a company, so I’ve been able to represent the company as “one of their own.” As a consultant, I now only do recruiting on a limited basis, either for existing clients or people / companies that I know. There is a process of learning the company when you are on the outside – you must “build the story” in order to accurately represent the opportunity to a potential candidate. Having recruited on both sides of the fence, there are a few things I have learned that are critical in successful recruiting across the board.
Know how to represent the opportunity
We’ve all been job seekers at one time or another, and I think I can probably speak for most when I say that the experience of understanding the job opportunity first comes from the recruiter. Recruiting is sales – we are selling the opportunity to the buyer and they want to know they are getting a good “product” and later on, a good deal. If we haven’t been given all the tools we need to develop our sales pitch, the candidate won’t buy it.
Be quick to respond
Whether a candidate is actively or passively seeking a job, they want to know where they stand with regard to your opportunity. You may have the sales pitch down and get them excited during the first conversation, but if you can’t follow through in a few days about what is happening in the process they will quickly lose interest.
Engage the people making the hiring decision
The interview team must be engaged in the process. They are running the next leg of the sprint – taking the baton and keeping the adrenaline going for the candidate. They must understand and buy in to the importance of keeping things moving.
Don’t postpone interviews
The candidate must be a priority. Everyone has legitimate reasons from time to time for why scheduled meetings must be postponed, but when you reschedule an interview, the candidate is more than likely going to wonder what the “real” reason might be. Postpone twice, and those other companies courting them are going to become a lot more attractive.
Post interview is your greatest opportunity to close the deal if the candidate is someone you would really like to hire. This will require a lot of action, from following up with the interview team to determining a potential offer, and making sure that all happens quickly. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are the only company they like. Great candidates will likely have multiple offers from good companies, and sometimes the first company to the finish line is the winner.
When it comes right down to it, recruiters can’t guarantee a successful outcome unless everyone is engaged in the process. Candidates want you to court them, keep them engaged, and tell them truth. Everyone dealing with the candidate needs to be on the same page. They want to know what the company is really like, whether they will fit in, if the pay is in line with what they are making / asking for, and what they are really going to be doing if they accept the position. No job opportunity is perfectly represented, but the closer you can get to laying out all the facts, the better chance you have at making the hire.
There’s some healthy debate going on right now about the value of HR, what we should call it, and whether companies really need it at all. In his article titled “Why We No Longer Need HR Departments,” Bernard Marr has suggested that HR is dead, and companies should do away with it altogether. Josh Bersin on the other hand, in his article titled “Why We Do Need the HR Department” states “human resources professionals solve some of the most important problems in business today” (an opinion with which I tend to agree). Interestingly, while both authors are coming at it from different angles, after reading their articles I was surprised to see that they are actually saying many of the same things.
Marr suggests that we should do away with the HR department, and reinvest in the “people function” which focuses on attracting, retaining and developing people; Bersin agrees that while the HR name might be antiquated, research shows that we need strategic HR professionals to hire and develop leaders within the organization. Ultimately, there is agreement that companies need people who are focused on creatively tackling the challenges of finding good candidates who are a fit for the organization from both a skills and a cultural perspective, engaging those people early on, finding ways to motivate them, and making sure that they are growing in their careers all while contributing to a strong bottom line.
Think about highly successful companies. What do they have that can’t be “bought?” They have employees who are ambassadors for the company because they believe in it. Those employees promote the company brand and culture without being told to do so, and they recruit their talented friends to join in and be a part of it. You can track metrics and do predictive analysis all day (and there is certainly a place for that), but ultimately successful businesses are about engaged people. Just one bad employee – particularly if it is a leader in a small company – can quickly turn the tide and blow all of your well-designed metrics.
For many years, I worked as the sole “HR person” in a technology company. If you want to find a group of people who are skeptical and difficult to win over when it comes to buying in to HR, just put yourself in a room full of software engineers. Personally, I’ve never written a line of code, never run a daily scrum meeting during a sprint, and have never been responsible for identifying, troubleshooting, and debugging system errors. But I have successfully hired, managed, motivated, rewarded and retained technical people who found me to be a credible advocate for them, as well as a strong proponent of the business. Why? Because I chose never to hide behind my HR title. To be taken seriously, people in HR or any other function within a company need to understand the business from end-to-end. This doesn’t mean each person needs to be an expert in every function – it just means that we need to take the time to understand the other functions and how they relate to the business as a whole. As HR people, this affords us the opportunity to create programs and initiatives that are both relevant and effective.
Regardless of what we choose to call them, companies will always need creative thinkers who can design and facilitate effective programs that attract, retain, motivate and develop people. I once heard someone say in another context that people tend to spend too much time arguing about the “minors” instead of agreeing on the “majors” and working towards progress, and I couldn’t agree more. So go ahead, call me HR. As long as you believe I’m doing work that moves the business forward I can take it. I’ve been called worse.
When looking to contract with an outside company, it’s important to do your homework. You shouldn’t just evaluate the product or service they are offering, but also evaluate the company itself. Just like you try to run a good business that attracts great employees and retains them, your vendors and service providers should be doing the same. Essentially, the quality and continuity of service you receive is directly related to their employees, and their turnover is very likely to affect you.
I can recall working with a software vendor and having three different project managers in less than a 12-month period. Very frustrating. I had to re-explain my company, and our scenario, over and over. So, what are some additional things to consider when choosing to contract with an outside company?