December 15 , 2017

Do You Work At A Dinosaur Recruiting Function? A Quick Assessment Checklist

As seen on ERE Media (March 10, 2017).

I read an excellent think piece the other day by Kaela Wax. Where on her blog she stated that as an outsider, after closely studying the recruiting industry, she concluded that “My biggest takeaway: The industry is about 65 million years behind, and it’s a total mess”. Of course, her description made me initially laugh. However, after some thought, I realized that I do know a significant number of corporate recruiting functions that are still operating as if they were in the Jurassic era. I have previously written about dinosaur recruiters and over the decades I’ve done a great deal of research into corporate recruiting functions. And over the last handful of years, I have seen a widening gap between the very best “leading edge firms” like Google, Sodexo, the U.S. Army etc. and the average corporate recruiting function. The difference is great and getting wider. And, in fact, there is so much that can be learned from leading edge firms that the theme of the fall 2017 ERE.net conference covers how the recruiting functions at leading firms are significantly better. So, if you’re a corporate recruiting leader or simply a recruiter, working at one and you want to know the factors that indicate that you may work at a “dinosaur recruiting function”. Here is my quick 12 item checklist to find out where your recruiting function stands among the giants.

A Checklist Of The Top 13 Indicators Of A Dinosaur Recruiting Function

The following is a list of the key indicators that I have found to reveal that your corporate recruiting function is significantly behind “the pack at the top”. The most powerful differentiators are listed first.

  1. Your function is not completely data-driven – the largest single differentiator is the absence of comprehensive data-driven decision making. If your function utilizes mostly guesswork or intuition to decide on the most effective sources, selection criteria, candidate assessment approaches and which recruiting programs no longer work; you operate in Raptor land. The absence of regular and predictive metrics for each specific strategic recruiting goal almost guarantees a slow rate of continuous improvement. Not having quantified monthly overall recruiting, recruiter and hiring manager scorecards is still another indication that your function doesn’t care about accountability and performance. Functions that also fail to conduct formal candidate research will fail to attract the best. Because they won’t precisely understand candidate attraction factors and how / where they search for a job.
  2. Recruiting doesn’t quantify its business impacts in $ – the best firms have shifted to a businesslike approach. So, if all recruiting result and impacts are not quantified in dollars (the language of business), you may, about to become extinct. Without being able to prove your direct impact on corporate goals, you will never have enough of a budget to improve and modernize. The weaker firms fail to assign a dollar value to improve recruiting. This can be done by multiplying the average percentage of performance improvement of new hires by your firm’s average revenue per employee.
  3. Your function doesn’t measure quality-of-hire – without this critical success measure, a weak recruiting function can’t know which recruiting approaches, tools and hiring criteria actually predict future job performance. The more excuses that a recruiting leader makes for not measuring the performance of new hires, the higher the probability that their function’s performance will fall below average. The weakest recruiting functions have also not made the clear connection between improving hiring speed and raising new-hire quality.
  4. Jobs are not prioritized – it’s important for recruiting leaders to realize that not all jobs have the same impact on business success. As a result, it is a common error for these leaders not to work with business leaders to identify which jobs should be given a priority and as a result, the best recruiters and the most resources are directed toward them. Candidates that are innovators also need to be prioritized. In the same light, priority needs to be given to the elements of the recruiting process that have the highest impact on quality of hire.
  5. Less than 50% of your hires come from referrals – employee referrals produce both the highest quality and the highest volume of hires. So having an underperforming and antiquated employee referral program essentially guarantees that your function will flounder and slip below average.
  6. Your recruiting function focuses on active candidates – in weaker organizations up to 90% of their hires are active candidates. Weaker recruiting functions rely heavily on recruiting active candidates because they “will find you” and these candidates will tolerate almost any mistreatment by recruiting. Processes that are designed for attracting actives simply won’t work on the more desirable employed person that’s not actively looking for a job. Because employed top performers must be poached away from their current employer and most dinosaur recruiting functions simply don’t have the courage to poach.
  7. Your function is not dominated by recruiting technology – in a digital and interconnected world; recruiting functions can’t even remain competitive without having technology everywhere. If people in your function consider an ATS to be technology, you are working alongside mammoths. You can’t be a great firm until you have gone 100% digital and at least explored the new emerging technologies in automated sourcing, candidate matching, and candidate assessment.
  8. All recruiting tools and processes are not available on the mobile platform – in a world that is dominated by the mobile platform, people that want to work at weak firms can’t apply and accept a job strictly on their mobile phone. In addition, if all of your internal recruiting tools and processes are not available to recruiters and hiring managers on their mobile phone; your hiring managers will be frustrated, your recruiting process will take over 30 days and you will lose the very best candidates.
  9. Your function doesn’t have a formal talent pipeline – if you don’t have a continuous talent pipeline that allows you to develop talent communities, more than 90% of your hiring will come from just in time recruiting. Without a talent pipeline, you won’t be able to fill interview slates with pre-identified and pre-assessed candidates. And that will mean longer vacancies and weak applicant slates.
  10. Your function pays only lip service to employer branding – weak performing recruiting functions have yet to realize that a powerful employer brand is literally the most effective recruiting tool after employee referrals. The weak firms do not measure the strength of their employer brand by the number of qualified applicants that they receive. And they allocate less than 10% of their budget to building their employer brand. Firms with weak employer branding don’t appear on a single “best place to work” list.
  11. Diversity is a legal commitment rather than a business imperative – the weakest recruiting functions have not gathered data and successfully made the business case revealing the many positive business impacts from a diverse workforce. The weakest functions lump all diversity groups together and utilize essentially the same non-data driven approach for recruiting all diversity candidates.
  12. Your function doesn’t have a data-driven selling capability – only the weakest functions have failed to use data and technology to dramatically improve sourcing and assessment. However, when it comes to selling capability (the third most critical recruiting capability) the weaker firms have not even considered making selling data-driven and no resources are formally allocated to it. Using intuition to guide the process for convincing top applicants to apply and accept jobs, guarantees that the overall quality of new-hires will suffer.
  13. Your function has limited capabilities in critical specialty recruiting areas – recruiting functions that operate within Jurassic Park have limited internal capabilities in the critical area of executive recruiting. Without a superior internal executive search capability, you are limiting your business impacts and at the same time admitting that your function only has the capability of hiring non-executive talent. Another critically important specialty area is the ability to find, attract and hire innovators. Your firm has no chance of competing with Apple, Facebook, Google or Amazon if you haven’t developed a process and recruiters with expertise in recruiting innovators. And finally, at weaker firms, their antiquated college recruiting effort will still heavily rely on campus visits that are only made to a handful of few target schools. Dinosaur recruiting functions have no quality of hire measures in University recruiting, no student referral program and they don’t realistically have a remote or global college recruiting capability.

Final Thoughts

I’ve tried to make this recruiting function assessment checklist as impactful but as lighthearted as possible. But corporate recruiting leaders need to take this or their own checklist seriously. Because slipping into mediocrity may, unfortunately, guarantee that your firm won’t ever again have a competitive advantage over your talent competitors. And, since recruiting has the highest impact of all the HR functions on corporate revenue and profit; failing to be in the top tier of recruiting in your industry guarantees that your firm will hire mediocre workers that don’t have the critical ability to innovate. Because these weak firms haven’t built a strong business case, their executives and shareholders will never know how many millions of dollars that an average recruiting effort is costing their firm.

One final thought. Remember that the actual dinosaurs went extinct because they were slow to adapt to a fast-changing world. And almost everyone agrees that our 21st-century world is certainly changing rapidly. So, if your function evolves too slowly, RPO may be in your future. Fortunately, weaker firms can take solace in knowing that as a result of the wild success of the leading-edge firms (e.g. Google gets nearly 3 million applications per year) that they do have someone that they can emulate. But don’t linger too long before catching up. Because these top tiered firms are always improving, so that by the time you catch up, they will have moved well beyond your initial target.

Author’s Note: If you enjoyed this article, please connect with or follow Dr Sullivan on LinkedIn

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.