Is Your Recruiter A Waste of Money?

Why should you work with a professional recruiter?  Well first, we have to define what a professional recruiter is and what they do.  Do you know what the recruiter you are working with actually does day to day to fill your position?  Have you asked them? Well, like everything else in life, not all recruiters are created equal.  In this article, I will talk to some of the basic value-adds I believe an authentic recruiter should bring to the table.  I will not be getting into the various recruiting models — that is a topic for another article.  Let’s just keep this as some basic things all good recruiters, regardless of the model, should be doing as a matter of practice.

Understanding your business problem

Starting at the beginning.  How much time is your recruiter willing to invest in understanding why your opportunity is available?  Do they get into the business problem you are looking to solve by hiring or do they just gloss over it?  Are they content with “he or she has an opening” and switch immediately into “order taking” mode?  (One of my favorite mentors in this business coined that phrase.) By “order taking”, I mean just covering what the job description says you are looking for.  A good recruiter will spend a significant amount of time trying to understand the business case for hiring.  Hiring a new employee, in some cases can be a $200,000 investment, taking into account candidate salary, benefits associated to the candidate, manager and staff interview time, administrative staff time, diminished production time due to the investment in interviewing, and potentially an agency fee.  The decision to hire should not be taken lightly.  Ensure your recruiter takes the time to understand what business problem will be solved by the hire.

Candidate Identification

What does your recruiter do to find his or her candidates?  How upset would you be if you hired someone and paid a $23,000 fee to an agency then found out they found your new hire on a pay site that you had access to and could have found on your own?  A true recruiter will spend time with you to develop a profile to determine what the best fitting applicant should “look like.”  For example, will they be working autonomously or as part of a team? These are two completely different profiles.  Often the best candidates out there are still employed.  Although there is a 9.7% unemployment rate the top talent you are looking for likely does not fall into to that number.  The very best people are working, or are back to work quickly.  If you want the BEST people you want you be able to find and engage with them. A good recruiter will face that challenge head on for you by recruiting that top talent not sourcing job boards.

Employment Branding

How will a recruiter sell your opportunity and company?  Will they be passionate about your position?  A good recruiter is an extension of your marketing efforts.  A good recruiter, if they never worked with your company before, will want to talk with marketing so they understand the best way to sell the company.  A good recruiter will want to become a business partner with you.  The recruiter in some cases may be the first introduction a candidate has to your company — a weighty responsibility.  A bad recruiter can have a toxic effect on your company’s recruiting effort.  A candidate’s experience with your recruiter and the hiring process will influence their perception of how the company treats its employees.  A bad recruiting experience, I can assure you, will get much more buzz in the applicant’s network than a good one.  A bad candidate experience will taint a majority of people that are in his or her network, as well as potentially reach people a couple of rings out who may get word of the poor experience.  What are people saying in the market about your company’s recruiting experience?

Interview and Selection Efficiency

Many managers can’t find the right person because their interview and selection process is a turn off to the best and most highly desirable people.  Top talent does not want to have to jump through hoops to make a career change.  A good recruiter is a valuable resource in helping you transition a candidate through the interview process to a hire.  Is your interview process such that it will effectively balance establishing a candidate’s qualifications and profile while remaining efficient?  Many companies have a non-strategic “process” established whereby candidates may see inefficiencies in regard to assessments, four rounds of interviews with ten people all asking the same twenty questions all with veto power, in essence a disqualification focused interview process.  A good recruiter can help you define an efficient interview and selection process. This is a big one for me because a good recruiter can add so much value in this area. Unfortunately, this where a majority of managers refuse to take guidance.  Hiring is most likely not the core function of the line managers charged with hiring for their departments, so their experience and/or knowledge of latest trends, etc. may be limited.  A good recruiter will be involved in hiring scores of people in a given year.  Who do you think will have more experience in efficient hiring?  Managers are hired because they are good at their core business function. If I want to know how to code, I will come to you, if you want to staff, trust the person that does it for a living. Unless that core business function is staffing, put the ego aside and take some friendly advice.  That is part of the value we can add to the process. We are of course still speaking about a professional recruiter.

Great Expectations

For a number of hiring managers the management of candidate expectation is a foreign concept.  This is where most candidates are lost. The “great unknowns” — don’t know how long it will take for the next interview, how long will it take to make a decision, what has to happen to select a candidate, how long will it take to get an offer, how much will the offer be —  can lead to a quick exit for top candidates.  Uncertainty will cause insecurity and questions. It takes a lot of time and skill to keep a candidate interested.  Think about this fact.  The absolute most interest and motivation a candidate will have in your position is while they are interviewing with you.  The very second they walk out of your door that interest begins to wane.  A good recruiter will handle this for you.  If the recruiter is not asking YOU these questions to begin with, how can they possibly be managing a candidate’s expectations?  Communication is key. The best talent is successfully hired-and lost – based on the effectiveness of the communication during the interview and selection process.

Deliver the goods

You were lucky enough to find your man Flint.  (That’s an old school reference.)  The selection process is complete.  So we’re done, right? Not so much. You must not take it for granted that the process ends at the handshake.  Emotions run high at the offer and notice period.  One manager is going to get a new hire.  An employee has to give notice – that means looking their manager in the eye and saying essentially, “you were not good enough to keep me.”  One manager is going to lose an employee.  Perhaps your selected employee is having second thoughts, getting nostalgic and feeling some uncertainty surrounding leaving their comfortable job for the unknown.  When they give notice assume there is going to be a counter offer.  They can come in many forms and at many different times – counteroffers do not necessarily happen at the time notice is given.  Don’t be lulled by the candidate who says, “Oh, I would never take a counter offer ” or “my company never makes counter offers.”  You have to test it with a scenario.  What does your recruiter systematically do to ensure the candidate you selected will be delivered?  What does your recruiter do to manage the candidate through the notice period when all of his or her friends are trying to convince them to stay?  There are easy ways to avoid candidate loss after the selection is made.  Make sure this is being covered by your recruiter or you may be back to the beginning of the whole process.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, not all recruiters are created equal. If you are not satisfied with the service you are getting, you have many options.  Don’t settle.

Effective Recruitment Through Outsourcing

So you need to do some hiring.  You want to do it quickly, but at the same time you need full confidence that you are bringing the very best talent into your organization.  Recruiting should be viewed as a business strategy, not just an operational task.   I recommend taking a step back from the constant need to “put out the fires” and examine the engine you have in place for recruitment at your organization. 

Increasingly, companies are turning towards a unique solution, particularly in these times of uncertainty.  Working as an extension of your company, an outsourced recruiting partner is quite valuable.  Whether you fully outsource or augment what you already have in place, they will get to know your culture, take the time to understand your business goals and help you to streamline your process to ensure optimal hiring. 

A properly managed outsourced recruitment solution offers many benefits that can improve your business. 

Decrease Time to Hire
Due to the efficiencies that are brought into the mix with an outsourced provider, you will save time.   You will avoid the need for hiring, training and retaining an internal team.  While streamlining your recruitment process, you will also see the development of best practices which will cut out time in the process, leading to less lost candidates and the ability to bring the most desired talent on board more quickly. 

Increased Candidate Quality
Because contingency fees are not involved when working in this capacity, it automatically sets up a more pleasing scenario for a candidate.  Candidates often say they feel like they are just a dollar sign and being bullied into jobs that just don’t feel right.  Not only isn’t this the case, but because of the approach of many outsourced partners, you will be able to receive honest and open feedback through this unbiased intermediary. 

Reduce Cost
Outsourced recruitment decreases not only your direct recruiting costs, but also can save on recruitment search tools and advertising.  Additionally, you will be able to cut back or even completely eliminate those skyrocketing third party agency fees. 

Flexibility and Customization
Often, outsourced recruitment programs can be customized and offer flexibility.  As your needs evolve, many programs can usually be adjusted to coincide with changes.  A solid recruiting partner will not be static.  They will provide continuity of the team and at the same time be able to bring on professionals with varied subject matter expertise as needed.

Whether you are an emerging company, a mid-sized firm or a Fortune 500 organization, you have options!  I encourage you to take a look at your current situation and don’t be afraid to get creative on your approach to strategic and effective hiring.

Employee Referral Programs -Why They Don’t Work

The theory is good people know other good people. This has been the underlying principle driving employee referral programs for as long as I have been in the private sector. You have your superstar performers and you know if you could just get one more of each of them, all of your production, creative marketing, or sales problems would be solved. Clients would flood in and bottom line profits would soar. I just have one question. How is that working for you?
The problem is the traditional employee program is a passive effort. You dangle a carrot and hope they act. The program is dependent on your employees actually going out to their network and driving traffic back. This is the same premise as a channel partnership in sales. You are depending on your channel partner to deliver a consistent, effective, and attractive value proposition with the same zeal with which you would. Don’t get me wrong, there are great employee referral program and there are great channel partnerships. Wouldn’t you make it better though if you could?
The reality tends to be that unless you are a company known as an “employer of choice” (i.e. Microsoft, Google- a company where people want to be) your staff may have a hard time driving candidates to you. Moreover, many do not feel comfortable with talking to their friends about their company. Not everyone is a sales person or marketer. Some are shy and introverted. Some just will not mix social and work. Some may not really like working for your company! They may have a great network of people with skills that would be attractive to your company, but your message will never reach them.
Enter Talent Retriever’s Active Referral Program (ARP). We have established a program that addresses the problems with a passive Employee Referral Program, by making it an active effort. We are working with our clients and identifying their top performers and driving referrals for them. Interested in hearing more about how this works? Give me a call. I can’t give out all of my secrets.

Excuse-Makers vs. Opportunists:  Which Team is Your Sales Group Playing For?

There is a change brewing. Organizations are starting to put money back into business development. I see PR people picking up speed. Companies that create and drive all kinds of marketing programs are beginning to finally close business that has been in the pipeline since Q3 2008. Great news!

As a marketing professional by trade, I am a huge believer in employing all sorts of tools that support and help initiate sales. But – marketing is only half of what it takes. Great marketing programs that are not complimented by a solid sales force are often wasted.

Now is a good time to take a good and honest look at your existing sales team. Times are tough. Are members of your team hustling or are they making excuses? If you are hearing too much, “well, its just a bad market right now” instead of “This is my chance to outwork my competition,” then you may want to consider some immediate changes. Now more than ever, there is no excuse for having a weak sales team. There are great people both available on the market, as well as those more passive candidates who are willing to take a look at new opportunities.

Superstars are getting job offers – and they are coming in multiples. Don’t settle for the B Team.

 Cloud Recruiting for the Company

So you have an internal recruiting department or you are using external agencies to fill your position. Let me start by saying I know a lot of first rate agencies out there. I also know way too many that are staffed with recent college graduates who have low morale and high turnover. Do you know which one you are working with? Every agency you talk to will claim they are cutting edge. They will talk about calling into competitors and direct sourcing…if you are lucky enough to find an agency actually doing that you are lucky. Remember they are commission-based and looking for the quickest buck. As I said, there are some good ones, but they tend to be the very small boutiques –people who have built relationships and branched out on their own because they are that good.

If you have an internal recruiting department and you are not hiring, what are your recruiters doing?

Regardless of how you are managing your talent acquisition, let’s get to the heart of the matter. How are they finding your people? In a recent blog post, I wrote about the evolution of the job search. It went something like this…started with typing resumes on a typewriter and mailing, progressed to a word processor and faxing, evolved to MS Word and emailing, and now seems to be stuck at posting on job boards. I talked about how the “most desirable candidates have progressed to online branding or C.P.R. (Candidate Public Relations).”

If your method of talent acquisition, whether that be an internal staff or contingency agency, is still sourcing off the boards, get rid of them immediately. They are wasting your money. Hiring managers want the best available talent, not the easiest talent to find.

The best talent, for the most part, is still employed. Companies are holding on to their finest talent as they work to remain viable and competitive in this down economy. Do you subscribe to the notion that 80% of your company’s chance of surviving is coming from the top 20% of your thought leaders and performers? If so, then those are the people you as a manager want to know. So how do you find them?

The most obvious example for me is the open source code world. Developers are writing and contributing to a bigger community. The leaders in this space all know who the other thought leaders and “up and comers” are. There work is out there for everyone to see every day. You don’t find these people on Dice or Monster, they hang out on Linux.org, KPLUG, or sourceforge. You find them in their circle. They are out there and hiding in plain sight. We are working with our clients to ensure their “social presence” puts them in the same circles as these top people. We are showing companies how to approach and build relationships with these most desirable candidates.

If are working with some who claims to be doing this, test them. As a professional in “your space” you know the trade publications you subscribe to, you know the blogs you visit to keep current, you know the social sites that have the professionals who are thought leaders in your space. Ask them where they are. Better yet, if they were active in “your space” would you already know who they are. It’s a tough economy and everyone seems to be an expert at everything. I know I get agencies that call me all day wanting to work with our strategic partners. There are ways to help you separate “the wannabees” and “the been there done that”.

NOW is The Time to Build Your Talent Reserve®

Cari Tuna from the WSJ published an article on April 3rd (“Some Employers See Hiring Opportunity” http://tinyurl.com/dyynzh) which got me thinking and opened up a number of questions.

Cari references numerous companies that are being “overwhelmed” with applicants responding to job openings – a company that once had to stand in front of a mall and hand out applications to attract candidates now has over 1000 applicants for 100 openings – another drew over 4,000 applicants for 80 positions at a new facility. We have all seen and heard stories like this.

First question – is leadership taking notice? Are people recognizing that this is a buyer’s market? This does not mean you need to make an immediate purchase – but you should be building your network and defining the ways to sustain this network (how you will remain connected to these people over the longer term). Relationship building is key. And NOW is the time to do it.

Remember 12 months ago when you couldn’t find a candidate to speak with? When candidates where in hiding and good people could not be found? The 900 people that the company in Florida did not hire – what happens to them? Let’s assume there are a good number that are overqualified and others that are not the right fit – let’s say there are 150 candidates that are qualified – what happens with these people?

Invest in the future of your recruitment. This is a great opportunity to save time and exorbitant fees in the future. Build a network around these candidates – find ways to communicate with them regularly. Over time the network will increase in size and “quality” and during your next hiring cycle you turn to these folks first.

Contingency agencies are doing this now. They are gathering people, generating names, building relationships and expanding their network – all so that they can generate large fees in the upturn. Sure – when you are ready to hire, the contingency firms will have great candidates delivered to your doorstep —all yours for a fee of 25%.

Building out your Talent Reserve® can be done cheaper and more effectively. Not only can you accumulate your own database of A-Level talent that you’d love to have join your company sometime in the future, but you also have the opportunity to begin building a relationship with them. The goal is to get this top talent to have a desire to work at your company. Building an allegiance right now is the perfect time. When they hold all the cards (and I assure you, we will be back to a “candidate’s market”) if you have already invested the time and energy in developing a relationship with them, you will be ahead of their other suitors.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s