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

Part 2 of a 3 part series on “Developing a World Class Eemployment Function” I know dozens of employment directors who claim they want their function to be world class or that they want 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.Steps in Developing A World Class Employment Plan:

    1. Forecast the business economy and your industry – Look at growth in the quality and availability of the labor supply (& demand) in your key job categories.


  1. Identify the critical success factors for our “future” industry – Determine which functions and departments will need top talent, above average talent, or average talent to make a firm successful.
  2. Revise the HR plan – to meet these people priorities.
  3. Determine the range of budget amounts that are likely to be available for the function.
  4. Do a demand forecast – Estimate employee headcount growth, turnover rates, and labor availability. Do a staffing need forecast.
  5. Develop a world class employment checklist – What are the critical success factors and the essential program elements you need to have if you are going to have a world class employment function? Use it as a guide to develop your employment tools (see the WC checklist below).
  6. Do a competitive analysis – Assess each of the competitor’s employment (sourcing, interviewing, college, etc.) functions and programs. Assume they will improve at a 10% rate and then set higher targets for each of your own programs.
  7. Prioritize – Identify and prioritize the key jobs, competencies, products, customers, and divisions (ex., MIS #1 priority, janitors #9). Align your priorities (and your budget) with those of the business.
  8. Coordinate with Sales and PR – Review sales and branding strategies and develop plans for synergy and the coordination of these efforts.
  9. Determine the importance of learning – Managers and employees need to keep current in their field. An auxiliary element of relationship recruiting (when managers and employees do recruiting) is that they stay current and they gather competitive intelligence, which aids in their technical learning.
  10. Select your over-all employment strategy – (see the master list: ex., Employer of choice, Hire for experience, or select for a low cost of labor). Next develop sub-strategies and goals for each major job category.
  11. Set the quality standards – Determine the quality needed for the average hire in each of the major job categories (ex., A++ Quality for MIS, Cost savings for maintenance, etc.). Then prioritize whether cost, speed, or the quantity is more or less important than the quality of the hires for each major division/ job category.
  12. Program Improvement – Set the speed of program improvement for all employment programs and develop the metrics to measure and improve it.
  13. Determine who is to have the primary “ownership” of recruiting (ex., HR, Managers, Teams, or Managers do all, vs. HR does sourcing and managers do screening).
  14. Go Global – Determine the geographic scope of the recruiting (ex., – Cal only, US only, or Global) for each major category.
  15. Hire top recruiters – Determine the type (aggressive “Exec search types” vs. “corporate types”) of recruiter you want on your staff. Recruit the best employment staff you can afford. Dump the average and below ones. Develop a continuous learning plan for every staffing person. Develop training to keep them on top of their game. Develop individual results oriented metrics and rewards (at least 20% of pay) to motivate them to produce.
  16. Technology – Technology, e-commerce and the web are the “enablers” that will allow us to become the best. Determine the mix of technology needed in order to meet your goals (ex., – 50% Web recruiting, 50% traditional media, etc.) Use of Resumix type systems, online forms, paperless employment, etc. Develop paperless employment.
  17. What needs to be “localized?” – Determine the mix of centralized-shared employment services vs. locally controlled services.
  18. Set alternative goals – Include such areas as diversity, redeployment, no layoff, and customer service goals.
  19. Set workload standards – Set “req. per recruiter” ratios (ex., ratios 1 to 25 – 1 to 50) based on the percentage of the recruiting role that has been shifted to the manager and the quality of the recruits needed.
  20. Integrate – Coordinate the recruiting plan with the marketing and the PR strategy to ensure we impact sales as well as recruitment.
  21. Develop a plan – Develop a draft-written employment plan and process map and get final “manager buy in.”
  22. Success measures – Identify key performance metrics that you need to use to assess your employment program effectiveness.
  23. Build an Intranet – Add all employment training, forms, and “manuals” to the firm’s Intranet to allow managers to do most employment self-service.
  24. Candidate profile – Use market research tools to prepare a “candidate profile” for each major job category. Use this information to determine the best tools, media, and approach to find, convince, and screen these candidates.
  25. Continuously recruit – Determine which jobs will be continuously recruited vs. jobs where recruiting will occur only when an opening occurs. A key pillar of any strategy to become a continuous recruiting operation. Managers must be assigned the responsibility to constantly identify who is the “best in a field” and then build a relationship with them both for learning and recruiting. Pre-work must be done before requisition opens. Managers and employees will be expected to know and have relationships with the best in their field.
  26. Determine the mix:
    • between “passive” or active job seekers
    • of internal search vs. external sourcing
    • of executive search, house recruiting, and outsourcing
    • of employee involvement (referral programs) vs. manager and professional recruiting
  27. Develop incentives for recruiters so that they put the right emphasis on recruiting.
  28. Training – Train managers and recruiters (also develop an Intranet to allow for self-service service information gathering).
  29. Develop a “drop list” – Make a list of low ROI employment tools to drop or reduce in costs.
  30. Develop sourcing (name finding) tools and a strategy for finding candidates.
  31. Develop “convincing” tools and a strategy to get candidates to apply.
  32. Selection tools – Develop screening tools to assess the competencies of the candidates. Set the min and target “passing” scores for the preliminary and second screening tools (ex., – experience focused, education, or skill-focused screening). Determine which mix of experience, current, or future skills are needed.
  33. Internal movement – Develop Intra-placement, re-deployment plans, and metrics. Also require managers to have a mandatory “back fill” plan for every key position.
  34. Set the final employment budget and quarterly goals.
  35. Implement, monitor, debug, and continuously improve all programs and systems.

Steps In Building an Employment (Great Place to Work) Brand Strategy: Employment Branding:

  1. Define what branding will do for our employment efforts over the next 1-3 years.
  2. Define your employment strategy.
  3. Define measurable employment goals.
  4. Benchmark and show that branding usually fully meets its goals.
  5. Calculate the potential ROI for branding.
  6. Show how branding will bring a firm closer to “Employer of Choice” status and increase referrals and sales.
  7. Identify success/failure factors for branding by looking at other companies using branding.
  8. Identify the target market (candidates) for our branding efforts.
  9. Develop a target profile (who they are, where to find them, etc.).
  10. Find out how and when our targeted candidates make decisions on employment (brand) preference. Loyalty to a particular employment (brand) must also be assessed.
  11. What are the brands (non-employment and employment) that we should study in order to learn how to have a “great place to work” brand?
  12. Identify key products/programs and company needs for the next two years.
  13. Identify critical skills/competencies needed to meet these product goals.
  14. Identify who else is targeting the same candidates? And what tools/strategies are they using?
  15. Develop a branding plan to build brand awareness and get manager buy-in.
  16. Show how it can differentiate our firm from its competitors? What competitive advantage does it offer?
  17. What are the potential problems with branding and how will we avoid/ minimize each?
  18. Who needs to “own it” and who’s “buy-in” must we get?
  19. Show why our solution is the best using numbers and dollars.
  20. Rank potential media and tools to convey branding efforts.
  21. Select the media/methods to convey the branding message.
  22. Prove that the medium works to attract profile candidate through pilot/beta testing.
  23. Create a process to continually measure and evaluate the program’s effectiveness.
  24. Identify any subsidiary benefits from program.
  25. Monitor its progress and improve.
  26. When you are close to becoming world class, add service level agreements so that managers will only pay for the level of employment services they find of great value (welcome to the world of market forces).

First Steps In Becoming an Employer of Choice (EOC):

  1. Do a preliminary survey of top management to identify possible support or resistance.
  2. Do a benchmark study of current EOC firms that you wish to emulate. Place special focus on firms that have “recently” begun/successfully completed the transition to an EOC.
  3. Do an external PR analysis of the company’s image to assess its current status.
  4. Appoint a task force to lead the effort.
  5. Develop a list of the steps others have used to become an EOC.
  6. Do an internal assessment (gap analysis) of each of our programs that would have to be upgraded including:
  7. Analyze our PR strategy, and PR team. Product ads must make us appear as a great pace to work. Our sales force and employees must be involved in spreading the word.
  8. Assess the CEO’s capabilities and interest in being a “public figure.” They need to give speeches, get written up in leading business magazines, and perhaps write a book.
  9. Do surveys of college students, business writers, academics, our employees, executive recruiters, and influential business leaders to assess our “perceived” strengths and weaknesses and their view of our corporate culture and image.
  10. Analyze our recruitment strategy and team capabilities.
  11. Reassess our corporate values and culture. Must it change and CAN it be changed?
  12. Analyze our product strategy especially as it relates to public visibility and world class (WC) quality and customer service standards.
  13. Hire “Best Place to Work List” consultants to coach you on additional things you must do to get on the best lists and to achieve EOC status. Hire the best HR people to drive the strategy.
  14. Analyze your compensation and benefit strategies and team to assess your ability to attract, motivate, and retain WC employees. Measure and reward managers for great people results.
  15. Assess your training strategies and our training team especially in the areas of PR and management/leadership styles for managers.
  16. Develop a WC competency list for managers and employees. Do an assessment of the gap between where we are and where we need to be for all “key” managers and employees.
  17. Do an assessment of the gap between where we are and where we need to be for all “key” managers and employees. Analyze the results, make a cost/risk assessment.
  18. Get top management and employee feedback and buy-in. Revise and develop measurement standards and milestones.
  19. Get your CEO to write a book.
  20. Develop a plan to get corporate officers to go on speaking tours and industry events.
  21. Add “lifestyle” benefits and on-site amenities to give your employees something to talk about.
  22. Develop affinity groups and family-friendly policies.
  23. Survey applicants and employees to identify what they expect at an EOC (and periodically assess your success in meeting those needs).
  24. Train and reward managers for excellent “people” management performance.
  25. Coordinate product advertising with employment and PR efforts to ensure the EOC image is maintained in all three.
  26. Revise recruiting practices to include WOW (pizzazz) elements to make a lasting impression. Continually review our recruitment strategy and team capabilities.
  27. Develop a WOW web presence and do a competitive advantage assessment to ensure that you maintain an advantage.
  28. Hire the best employment staff with “outside the box” marketing talent. Reward them for maintaining EOC status.
  29. Work with sales and PR to coordinate efforts.
  30. Develop learning and benchmarking objectives that being an EOC can help support.
  31. Get EE’s to put decals/license plates on their vehicles to broadcast their loyalty.
  32. Get mentioned in movies/video games.
  33. Get written up as a business success case study.
  34. Have movie stars/athletes endorse us.

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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