August 3rd, 2011
Over the years, I have coached many talent acquisition professionals. One of the soundbites that I’m typically heard saying is, “don’t bulldoze!” What do I mean? Recruiters are tasked with presenting our company, knowing what our hiring manager is looking for and understanding technical terms to have knowledgeable discussions with prospects. Once we are prepped for an interview, we get so excited to share what we know that we tend to pitch the job. This usually sounds something like, “Hi John, I am Chris Burkhard from CBI Group and I am recruiting today for underwater basket weavers.”
The challenge with the job pitch approach is that it doesn’t leave a good next step. If the person does not have the right skills or is not interested, we need to quickly transition to asking for referrals or help with networking. The problem is that with this approach, the majority never talks to that person again. We keep plowing ahead for the talent we need for the requisition in front of us. We just keep running callers over to find what we want.
After I say, “Don’t bulldoze” and I have the recruiter’s attention, I suggest a more Outside-In® way to recruit. I certainly did not invent this approach but I have refined it over the years to be more customer centered.
Flip the conversation around and focus your conversation on the caller; find out what matters to the job seeker. What are they trying to accomplish in their career? Focusing on them typically sounds a little different. “John, I help talented underwater basket weavers achieve their next career objective. Could we spend a little time finding out about you and what you might be interested in?” This approach requires a lot of time, energy and curiosity. But isn’t finding out what the person wants helpful to determine if your current opening is a fit right? If not this req, then perhaps you can be honest and talk in bigger terms — about where your company is going and how the future might involve them.
The focus shifts to building a relationship with the talent. To building potential pipeline. This makes tomorrows’ recruitment easier and this is where good recruiting takes shape. It means you truly know your talent in the marketplace and particular people come to mind when open reqs fit their career goals and objectives.
It may seem so much easier to take the Bulldozer path. I hear it over and over again, “I do not have the time and I have jobs to fill.” But I think the typical recruiter has it all wrong. None of us should have the time to do it wrong the first time. Recruiting talent and getting to know prospective candidates is what recruiters should and must do to differentiate. No more bulldozing please!
July 13th, 2011
Talent Acquisition professionals are misunderstood. Generally, recruiters are rebellious. We color outside the lines and come and go when we please. Often times, this freedom is misinterpreted. Our work can be considered soft, simple, easy. But frankly, we never stop recruiting. We work at night and on weekends and there is science behind the mysterious, magical quality of our work.
We often hear things like, “I don’t know how you do it, but can you get me another one just like Mary (or John or whomever).” It is this mystery and ambiguity that makes our work seem more like art than true science. I have managed more than 1,000 recruiters in my career and I can share from experience that only a few are born to recruit. Those that are born with it have some common traits. They are naturally curious, they care about people and they have the energy of the “Energizer Bunny”. They go, go, go 24/7 and they move mountains for their customers. They make it look easy, when it is not. This work ethic, curiosity and personality can get you started but it takes great science to be a good recruiter.
The trouble with the science of recruiting is that there is not one standard formula. When it comes to hiring, our clients respect education and certifications. There are CPA’s, MBA’s, RN’s, EE’s… you name it, these certifications and degrees are a symbol of excellence in a particular field. But how do you know when a recruiter has reached a certain level? That they know, understand and excel in their field? For recruiters, it is not as cut and dry. We learn by doing and sometimes we are lucky to have a good mentor show us the way. We can take some course work or get an Internet certification, but we do not have certifications that translate. Have you heard of CPC or CTS? Probably not. I have had both, but now they mean nothing.
All we do is run Internet searches or review our databases. Right? This misunderstanding of our profession means we aren’t typically viewed with strategic importance. We are rock stars for a year. We are homeless the next. Our expertise is necessary during certain times of a business cycle like growth, acquisition, new product or business unit launches. But we have to be creative with our skills to show our value in down times of the business cycle.
Our customers see outcomes (the people we hire, the requisitions that aren’t filled) not process. They don’t care about things like sourcing or behavioral based interviews because they need what they need when they need it. But take a minute to think about the people on your team. Would you hire them if it were up to you? How would you find the right people to build the best team? With enough thought I think you’d agree that people are really the science behind the strategy — and good recruiters are the science behind it all.