Steps In Turning an Average Recruiting Function into A “Wow” One!

Part I of a 3 part series on “Developing A World Class Employment Function” I know dozens of employment directors that claim they want their function to be world class or to become “an employer of choice” but talk is cheap and few seem to have a plan on how to get there. If you are wondering why you are having difficulty recruiting talent, look no further than the tools you use. Just like you can’t compete with Window’s 3.1 software and an Intel 386 processor you can’t recruit the best using 1960 employment tools and strategies. Unfortunately 90% of all employment functions are living in the “old” recruiting world of “placing ads, going to job fairs, and reading resumes.” A few breakout firms (Cisco, Trilogy, World.hire, and Icarian, to name a few) have broken the mold and moved into a higher plane… shifting to web tools, continuous relationship recruiting, and focusing on the quality of the hire. If you are serious about shifting into “WOW” recruiting here are the steps you need to take and the principles you need to adopt.Indications Your Employment Function “Doesn’t Get It” – Do A Quick Audit To Find Out: You can do a quick audit to see if your employment function is “part of the problem or part of the solution!” You are not on your way toward a world class employment function if you can not answer yes to at least 10 or more of these items

    1. Do you have a continuously updated competitive analysis of your direct competitors employment practices?


  1. Do you reward your managers with a direct bonus of at least 5% for great attraction and retention?
  2. Do you track and show the performance (success) of the employees you hire and report it to managers?
  3. Do you track and reward recruiters directly for great (high performing) hires?
  4. Do you get more than 50 of your hires from referrals?
  5. Do you spend more of your employment budget on web recruiting than on “paper want ads?”
  6. Do you do periodic “profiles” of your target candidates so you know their job acceptance criteria as well as what they read, sites they surf, and their interests?
  7. Do you coordinate employment activities with PR and marketing efforts?
  8. Do line managers “own” and do more than 50% of all recruiting tasks?
  9. Do you require a “req,” a resume, and multiple interviews?
  10. Your time to fill (make a hiring decision) is less than 30 days for key positions.
  11. You do not treat all jobs and hiring managers the same. You do prioritize your “key” jobs and have a unique recruiting and selection process for each.
  12. A survey of your line managers shows that more than 50% know the name and the key elements of our employment strategy.
  13. You have 10 or more monthly employment metrics that are reported to managers every month. They focus on quality and the performance of the hire rather than the costs.

The Basic Foundation – What are the base line principles (assumptions) for a world class employment function?

  • It is assumed that both HR and the firm is driven by a competitive advantage/ performance culture, whose goal is dominance of their industry through the attraction and retention of the most productive employees.
  • Competitive advantage can only be maintained by beating the performance of our top competitors in each and every employment sub-function and then by improving it at a rate so fast that the competitor can not catch us.
  • Employment’s primary goal is to get managers and employees to raise the priority (% of time spent) they put on recruiting. You need to attract the best employees to win and that is not possible without the involvement of everyone!
  • We must have multiple tools and approaches to recruiting because it takes a different approach to get and retain the very best talent. Tools that work for secretaries may not work for IT professionals.
  • Without numerical proof it will be assumed that all employment practices are ineffective and need to be replaced with higher-return tools.
  • All recruiting is marketing, and a marketing-based strategy is the foundation of everything we do.
  • Performance metrics and incentives will drive all aspects of the staffing function. We will show our value to managers in performance, dollars, and ROI.
  • The HR VP and the Employment manager are “outside-the-box” players who see employment as the firm’s primary competitive advantage.
  • Excellence in people management (including recruitment) is a condition of employment for all line managers (because “C” quality managers can’t/won’t hire “A” quality employees.
  • It is a given that employment practices are not sacred cows. Everything that can’t prove that it gives us a competitive advantage will be dropped, outsourced, or dramatically improved.
  • Employment will act in a role similar to that of a “financial advisor!” They will give advice and do risk analysis, but they will not be a HR “cop” nor will they “own” hiring. Within a range, managers are given discretion to control how/who they hire.
  • Employment will be forward-looking. It will forecast and anticipate. We will aim at a moving target 6 months in advance of where we are now. We will never be satisfied that where we are today is “good enough.”
  • We will hire and train the best recruiters and employment staff and reward them heavily for success.
  • The same vigor must be placed on the internal “redeployment of talent” as on external recruiting.

Crucial Things That Must Happen if You Are to Shift From Traditional Recruiting To Become a “Wow” Recruiting Function: Employment must include these elements:

  1. Employment must be able to prove the real value of a great hire (and the cost of a bad one) in dollars and productivity.
  2. We must do all hiring and employment with the single goal of gaining a competitive advantage. Speed and quality are the related goals.
  3. All employment strategies must be shifted to an “all recruiting is marketing” focus and marking research, customer service, and “sales” tools need to be developed.
  4. Continuous relationship recruiting is our primary recruiting tool. It helps our managers learn that it increases referrals, sales, and brand image. It allows us to have a continuous stream of talent as well as giving us the opportunity to assess people’s talents over time. Learning by managers and employees is a key element of relationship recruiting.
  5. Employment must convince compensation/HR to reward managers and recruiters for great attraction and retention.
  6. HR needs to work with managers to determine which jobs are to be high priorities.
  7. Employment can no longer rely on coincidence hiring (requiring an open req. in order to recruit or hire top talent). Top candidates in priority positions must be hired as they are found.
  8. Our total focus is on looking for employed people that are relatively content in their job and are top performers.
  9. Recruiting is coordinated with sales, marketing, PR/image, and learning.
  10. Speed is the crucial advantage because “the best” will not be on the market for more than a few days.
  11. Finding the names of the best is everyone’s job…all departments must build their own who’s who! We must stop hiring “strangers” and start hiring people with whom we have build a relationship.
  12. The Employee Referral Program is the first program to emphasize and make world class. Employees must see the need to help us build a great team.
  13. E-recruiting and technology must be king (paper and “rules’ are “killers” of great recruiting).
  14. Employment must be capable of “remote” recruiting (people we hardly ever/ never see).
  15. Employment systems must be global and available 24 hours a day.
  16. Globalization requires one-size-fits-all employment programs that give local managers some control over their practices.
  17. Managers, jobs, candidates, and needs must be prioritized and aligned with our business needs. All jobs will not be treated equally.
  18. Developing a “great place to work” brand will be a top priority.
  19. The quality (performance) of the hire is the main employment metric.
  20. Assessment must be improved so that it can occur remotely and over time.
  21. Assessment must include (focus) actual job problems and situations as well as future problems assessment.
  22. People must be assessed based on “this job” and “their next job” if we are to continually improve.
  23. Because recruiting also builds sales and brand image, customer service must be superb.
  24. Everything will have performance metrics (and rewards).
  25. Because they are passive job seekers we will find candidates without their help. Usually they will not know that they are being recruited (stealth recruiting).
  26. Because “C” level managers never hire “A” level employees, we need to screen out low performing managers.
  27. All employment staff must be “executive search” types with a marketing mentality, who aggressively demand and produce excellent results. Below-standard employment staff must be replaced and all recruiters need continual skills training, performance metrics, and rewards.
  28. Use mailing lists and direct mail marketing strategies to target select currently-employed people.
  29. Use TV and Radio to help build a “great place to work” brand image.
  30. The firm must have “WOW” practices and/or products to get others to talk about us (in order to “self-attract” the best candidates).
  31. You must reduce (or stop) our emphasis on newspaper classified ads, career fairs, college career centers, and reading resumes.

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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