Does Your Recruiting Strategy Stink? A Quick Checklist

Recruiting is just like any other important business function. If it doesn’t start with a sound plan and strategy, it is destined to wallow in mediocrity. The head of the function needs to start the strategic planning process realizing that recruiting is just another form of a customer relationship, and its problems are much like those in quality control and supply chain management. But if they fail to see the similarities and learn from them, they are likely to “blow it” when they develop their staffing strategy! If you want to know if your recruiting strategy is advanced or just run of the mill, then use the following checklist to determine if yours needs revising.The Plan and the Strategy

  • Did you make an ROI “business case” to top management for the value-add potential of great hiring and retention systems?
  • Did you identify the critical success factors in great recruiting before designing your plan?
  • Have you developed a written recruiting plan with prioritized goals for recruiting? Have you tied that plan into the workforce and business plans and databases?
  • Does your strategy include tools for forecasting and anticipating what your competitors are planning? Do you have a system of countering them when they copy you? Did you do a competitive analysis (a side-by-side comparison) of your direct talent competitors’ recruiting programs?
  • Does your plan shift its approach depending on the economy and what your firm and your competitors are doing?
  • Does your plan allow some jobs to be continually sourced and filled even when there is a freeze on hiring?
  • When asked who is responsible for hiring, do a majority of managers answer that they and their employees “own” and do most actual recruiting rather than HR?
  • Does recruiting utilize the latest technology, your corporate intranet, and the web to do more than 50% of your hiring and 75% of recruiting administration, giving you a competitive advantage over slower competitors?

Recruiting Systems and Tools

  • Did recruiting management study, benchmark against, and learn from branding, customer response management, supply chain, and TQM when designing your recruiting systems?
  • Does management periodically (at least once a year) schedule a review of approvals and recruiting processes, and then cut the recruiting bureaucracy so that hiring decisions can be “shrunk” to a shorter period (less than 30 days)?
  • Does management periodically assess the performance (quality) of hires from each source and then reduce the usage of “easy and traditional” sources (e.g., Internet job boards and newspaper ads) that flood the system with mediocre people you will never hire?
  • Do you provide hiring managers with “side-by-side offer sheets” to educate them about what you have to offer that is superior to your closest talent competitors?
  • Do you have a formal and periodically updated competitive intelligence gathering system (and tools) that continuously tells you what the competition is doing in recruiting and retention?
  • Do you have a “JIT” (just in time) hiring system (with an applicant pool and/or a “who’s who” database) to allow you to hire needed talent on a moment’s notice, while also having the opportunity to assess targeted talent slowly, long before they are hired?
  • Have you identified the best sources and tools for diversity candidates? Have you also made the “business case” for having a diverse workforce?
  • Is there a written plan to build your “employment brand” by getting on best-place-to-work lists and by speaking (and encouraging others to speak) at conferences and industry events? Does recruiting coordinate events with PR in order to increase your applicant flow as a result of good press coverage?
  • Are your recruiting strategies integrated into your firm’s strategy for retaining top performers? Do recruiters get notified when a recent hire quits or is terminated?

Metrics and Rewards

  • Do you distribute monthly “results” metrics (for all important aspects of recruiting) to all managers and recruiters, to raise their awareness and cause positive behavioral changes?
  • Do you track which recruiting and screening tools (finding, sorting and screening) produce the best performing hires? Do you have a system that publicizes the best and least effective recruiting sources?
  • Do your recruiting and selection systems have a “learning” feedback loop that guarantees you learn from (and change your approach as a result) both successful and unsuccessful hires, as well as offer turndowns?
  • Do you have customer service and satisfaction measures for ensuring that you treat applicants like potential customers?
  • Do you offer performance rewards (bonuses) to recruiters and managers for great recruiting, retention, and hiring?
  • Do you anticipate new-hire failure rates, and revise hiring targets upward as a result?
  • Do you calculate the time it takes for a new hire to reach the needed level of productivity (“time to productivity”) and hire “ahead” as a result?
  • Do you survey all new hires and ask them why they accepted the job, and what the factors were that might “almost” have caused them to say no? Do you do a survey of all rejected offers and find out what the negative deciding factors were in their decision?
  • Do you have “pre-need” systems that calculate time to hire, and begin sourcing and hiring before a req. is even issued or approved, in order to ensure hires can start on the day they are needed?

Recruiting Targets

  • Do you have written and distributed priorities for your customers and your jobs? Do you have a system for ensuring that you spend most of your time on the high priority ones that impact the business the most?
  • Is a majority of your “attracting” budget (and tools) focused primarily on unemployed and “active” job seekers, rather than top performers who are currently working (e.g., job fairs, newspaper ads, large job boards)?
  • Do you have a program (and a metric) to target the top talent from your competitors (in order to build your own company “up” and lower your competitors’ productivity)?
  • Do you do periodic market research (surveys, focus groups, interviews) in order to identify the decision factors that top performers use when they decide to consider another job (or their criteria for accepting a new job when they already have a good one)?
  • Do you utilize tools and strategies in your advertising and websites that actively “discourage the average” from applying to your firm, thus minimizing the number of applications, legal issues, and paperwork your recruiters have to deal with?
  • Do you have an active system of innovation, obsolescence, and the continual improvement of your recruiting tools? Even when you win the “first entry” race, your tools are soon copied by competitors and thus they lose their uniqueness, competitive advantage, and effectiveness.
  • Do you have true global hiring capabilities that allow you to hire the best experienced and college hires from each of the countries in which you have major facilities?
  • Do you do a high percentage of the “hard stuff” internally (executive recruiting) and outsource a higher percentage of the “easy stuff” (lower-level administrative and entry-level hourly)?

The People in the Recruiting Function

  • Do you have formal learning, benchmarking, and knowledge-sharing systems that keep your staff up to speed on the latest tools, strategies, and industry intelligence?
  • Do you have a formal program or tool for training managers how to “sell” during the recruiting process?
  • Does the head of your employment function have sales and marketing experience? Does at least 25% of your recruiting staff have the same experience?
  • Do you periodically purge the bottom 10% of your recruiting staff and all administrative (paper-pushing) recruiter types?
  • Do you hire away the best recruiters in your industry, especially the ones that are the most successful at “poaching away” top performing talent?

And Finally…

  • When you complete this checklist, do you make excuses or do you take immediate action to upgrade your function and make it world class?

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.

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