So How to Crack the Recruiting Code?

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Recruiting is the reason I went back to school to pursue training and development to enhance my HR skill set. Combining several organizations over recent years in my career, my teams have recruited over 350 new employees. In one case the organization had over 60% turnover and so it was a bit of a revolving door. Through a variety of engagement and HRD principles we shaved off 20%+ turnover in a year’s span. One of the magic pills to do this is to develop your people. Thus, my school pursuits. Don’t keep recruiting if you don’t know how to retain them and develop them. Internal recruits are always best – someone you have developed who is stepping into a new role. If you are interested in a really deep dive into the topic of finding the talent you need and the broken mindset we have in America, pick up Peter Cappelli’s book, Why Good People Can’t Find Jobs.

This said, it is still absolutely critical to recruit well as recruiting is always going to be part of the HR job as long as there is competition, retirement, performance management and life change to take our employees away. As my favorite job coach told me, recruiting is the way to win the heart of your management team. If you can’t recruit well, management won’t believe HR is good at anything else.

While there are certainly a myriad of ways to develop complex recruiting systems, the secret formula boils down to just five things in my opinion:

1. Make sure your recruiters are salespeople. Generalists are not natural sales people. Let me rephrase. Generalists are not natural recruiters. We’re too rule and process focused because that is what we learn in PHR and SPHR class, and in HR college programs. As such we have to be taught how to be good recruiters if we are going to own some of this role. Good recruiters are salespeople, plain and simple. Good recruiters are hungry for talent and set out on a talent hunt with failure not an option. They’re slick. They can overcome objections. They know the features and benefits of the company and job. They are not afraid to cold call and they don’t give up.

There are a few ways I’d recommend you train your recruiting team, especially if you as most companies do are going to use your generalists. First, be sure they are social networking adept and on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Bullhorn Reach, Twitter and so forth. Second, since the world of recruiting is mostly electronic these days I suggest you join ERE-Electronic Recruiting Exchange and pay the bucks to send your recruiting team to learning opportunities. Third, make sure they know what a Boolean search is and are PC savvy. Fourth, teach them to cold call like the best headhunters out there (there are headhunters you can pay to teach you this – a large company I worked at put all us recruiters in a class to learn to be shameless headhunters). Fifth, make sure they can analyze stuff and sink the advertising dollars and activities only where it counts. Process is nice, but if you focus on too many things that aren’t working it’s an obstacle. Be flexible to change up what you do to include only what gets a return – that’s where good analysis comes in.

2. Remove bottlenecks. Time and time again I’ve shaved off months of time-to-fill problems by removing the perfectionists from the crowd. If you have hiring teams that think they can find Prince Charming to hire but they don’t have a Castle and Cinderella to offer, kick them off the hiring team. If you have an old office, unknown business name, low pay, or any other impediment, you need to be equally realistic about who you can find. Find good and fits, not great and perfect.

3. Employ behavioral interviewing techniques and realistic job previews. This means that you are asking questions that demand answers that really show how the candidate is going to respond under a certain circumstance. This means your questions require examples, substance, detail and a realistic preview of who the person is going to show up as if you hire him or her. In similar form, you need to be transparent yourself to give a truthful and realistic overview of what the job entails. And be sure to include culture in this preview. I once was hiring for a dining services leader and I was very realistic about the 70+ hours a week that was required and the formal setting. No need to drag a new hire through something unexpected as everyone’s time is wasted. Rather, hire someone who gets it and is on board with what really is.

4. Offer something that is not an insult. If you want strong talent, pay good dollars.

5. Be Pushy! Good recruiters are a little pushy. This gets back to the sales streak. They drive the process and keep the hiring team accountable to not sit on a good talent find. When they find talent, they push through to get to offer, and to get to offer quickly. There is too much competition out there (equal and better employers) so we cannot sit on our laurels and think we are the best thing there is.

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