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

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 heap 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. Characteristics of Strategic Employment Systems: A Detailed Checklist for Assessing the Quality of Employment Programs and Systems: Almost everyone in the employment field attempts to develop quality employment programs and systems. After studying numerous employment systems from Fortune 500 firms we have come up with a comprehensive checklist to use to ASSESS THE QUALITY OF ANY EMPLOYMENT SYSTEM. This checklist can be used as an audit tool or as a benchmark in order to ensure that new employment systems are the best that they can be. Be aware that no single system EVER meets all of these criteria and that any system must fit your unique culture and set of needs. WORLD CLASS EMPLOYMENT SYSTEMS Meet Most Of The Following Criteria:

    1. Hires workers that perform at a significantly higher level than our current best employee’s. (Performance measures might include new hire productivity, sales, forced ranking scores, performance appraisal scores, # of raises, promotions, ideas and awards etc.).


  1. Directly impacts the profitability of the firm by increasing corporate competitiveness, capability as a result of the added capabilities of our new hires.
  2. Significantly impacts the ability of the corporation to meet each of it’s corporate goals and initiatives (e.g. innovation, time to market, market share, cost cutting, etc.) because of the increased competencies of our new hires.
  3. Programs of the Employment Department have a higher success rate, have a greater impact on productivity and have a higher Return on Investment than other management systems and programs.
  4. The quality of our employment system allows us to attract and hire “the best and the brightest” so that “our” Employment system is our main competitive advantage over our main competitors. We are the best in The SIX Primary Employment Roles: 1) Finding, 2) Convincing them to apply, 3)Selecting the most productive, 4) Convincing them to accept, 5) Shortening the time to productivity for new hires and 6) Rapidly Redeploying our workers to the areas where they can help the corporation the most.
  5. Sets and prioritizes goals for each employment system, and meets each of those goals. It drops those with a low return.
  6. As forward looking. It looks at future corp. needs and assesses future competencies that will be required. Has “smoke detectors” to identify employment problems before they become major ones and automatic “sprinkler systems” to automatically “put out” real problems.
  7. Continually improve all elements of the employment process at a rate faster than the competitors improve theirs so that “catching up” offers no business advantage to them. Implement programs at such a high quality so that even when they do copy us…it doesn’t work as well as our program!
  8. Develops “non-copyable” programs or continually improves our programs at a rate so fast that they can not be copied.
  9. Continually tries innovative alternatives to existing systems. Every system & assumption is continually questioned. “We’ve always done it that way” is an unacceptable answer.
  10. Does a direct “side by side” competitive analysis comparison of their employment practices and ours. Identify which programs give us a competitive advantage and where we fall behind.
  11. It demonstrates an increase in employment’s impact on business performance through demonstrating that our new hires are better performers (or are lower salary cost hires) than last year’s hires.
  12. It drops any program where we can’t prove it works or where we have no evidence it gives us a competitive advantage.
  13. It constantly tries new things in employment on the assumption that you can’t beat them if you don’t act differently.
  14. All employment strategies has a “all recruiting is marketing” focus.
  15. Relationship recruiting is the 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 an key element of relationship recruiting.
  16. Employment compares the cost / quality and speed of service to that of our competitors so our cost per unit of service will always be lower than theirs!
  17. Continually measures every aspect of employment system performance (using #’s and $’s) and reports the results to all managers.
  18. Has a high rate of customer satisfaction and acceptance by managers and applicants.
  19. Puts primary responsibly on the managers and the employees for recruitment and hiring.
  20. Each element of the selection system accurately predicts future performance and competencies (is valid) and employment has the metrics to prove it.
  21. Use side by side tests, “mystery shoppers,” random sampling and pilot tests to ensure new systems are refined (and work) before (and after) they are implemented.
  22. Has a “seamless” international capability.
  23. Has an instant response (24 hours a day) system to answer employment questions.
  24. Hires have a higher retention (tenure) rate than our target.
  25. Our employment systems have a shorter cycle time, lower unit of service costs, can handle a larger volume, and result in better performing hires than the systems of our direct competitors.
  26. All employment systems and tools are simple to use, don’t require manuals or training (even though they are available).
  27. Provides high quality consulting advice to managers to assist them in making quality employment decisions.
  28. Are at minimum are financially self supporting from fee for service “charge backs” and often generate outside revenues.
  29. Employment systems openly “compete” with “outside” firms in order to get “chosen” to assist line managers in their recruiting and hiring needs.
  30. Screening systems focus on measuring present and future capabilities. They don’t overly focus on past performance or skills, # of years of experience or education.
  31. Improves the companies “brand image” in general and positively impacts it’s ability to sell products to non-applicants and rejected applicants.
  32. The Employment department has the capability to assist in strategic corporate initiatives such as: mergers, acquisitions (including due diligence), divestitures, strategic alliances, layoffs, expansion (international and national), restructuring, headcount maintenance, assessment centers etc.
  33. Identifies and assesses “special help” resources (outplacement, executive search, consultants etc.) to handle situations where there is no advantage to having the capability internally.
  34. Continuously benchmarks itself against the best in the world.
  35. Recruitment and selection systems are dependable and consistent (reliable) in different locations and times.
  36. Uses changing technology to allow us to find, convince and evaluate candidates in ways not possible before.
  37. Has JIT (just in time) capabilities to ensure we can be instantly responsive to changing business needs.
  38. Minimizes the manager’s time spent on administrative employment functions.
  39. Eliminates the use of paper and minimizes the use of forms (that are not on-line).
  40. Each employment system has multiple capabilities (fast/slow, cheap/1st class, acceptable/world class, regular/emergency etc.).
  41. Minimizes grievances and lawsuits. And if challenged, we win a high number (75%+).
  42. Does not require (extensive or any) job analysis, a job description or a job requisition.
  43. Because of their strategic impact, Managers of Employment are promoted to VP-HR more frequently than other directors.
  44. Minimizes the number of requirements, policies and rules put on line managers and maximizes management flexibility.
  45. Employment systems continually identify “factors” that “cause” applicants to apply. They then influence top and middle managers to provide the “best” working environment so that we can become “the” Employer of Choice in our industry and area.
  46. Has Multi-approaches and targets/ customizes its strategies to the particular job or situation. It monitors the external environment and adjusts to meet the changing (job) market.
  47. Is proactive and forward looking. It accurately forecasts future needs and changes systems to be ready in time.
  48. Continually identifies Employment best practices, opportunities, problems/ errors (and their solutions).
  49. Involves and empowers all employees to “own” the employment process. It motivates their direct help (mentors, referrals, orientation, willingness to go on recruiting trips, etc.) and their feedback (surveys and focus groups).
  50. All “passing and reject” scores are determined by data analysis. “Failures” are periodically allowed to “pass through” to see if they “fail” as predicted.
  51. After quality of hire, “speed as a competitive advantage” is the second most important goal for employment.
  52. There is a clear, written and communicated Employment Plan (Multi-year) that is an essential element of the over-all Strategic Business Plan.
  53. Integrates Employment systems (people and computer) with other HR and “corporate” systems to ensure cooperation and the smooth flow of information to others outside of HR New hire performance is tracked and success and failure data are continually “fed-back” to refine recruiting and selection tools.
  54. Employment systems and professionals don’t generalize, they “find out” for that particular individual.
  55. Has the same or higher ethical standards than those of the rest of the industry.
  56. Utilizes reengineering, TQM, processes maps, incentives and other tools to continually improve.
  57. Develops systems to maintain security, confidentiality and privacy.
  58. Uses objective and measurable decision criteria, (rather than subjective or “gut” criteria) whenever possible.
  59. Develops checklists, templates and guidelines to assist managers in making employment decisions rather than rules, manuals, training classes and policies that can overly restrict their need for flexibility.
  60. The Employment Department continually builds it’s internal strengths by having a written plan to hire, retain, assess, train and continually improve all employment systems (and people). It consciously compares itself to the best employment systems in the industry/ world so that no competitor will beat us in the “talent” market.
  61. Because of our extensive knowledge of the job market we assist management in developing retention systems to minimize “poaching” and the ability of competitors to “raid” our employees.
  62. The Employment Department continually identifies and evaluates Employment information sources (journals, reference sources, on-line sources, books and newsletters, etc.). Information is continually shared with the staff.
  63. Assessment must include (focus) actual job problems and situations as well as future problems assessment.
  64. Candidates must be assessed based on “this job” and “their next job” if we are to continually improve.
  65. It develops WC orientation and transition systems to eliminate frustration and speed “time to productivity” for new hires.
  66. Intra-placement and internal redeployment use external recruiting tools to speed the movement of top talent within our organization.
  67. Managers “own” recruiting and do most sourcing and all final screening.
  68. Excellence in management is an absolute requirement for all managers in the employment function.
  69. It rewards managers for attracting, developing and retaining top performers.
  70. It rewards recruiters for attracting top performers.
  71. Other _______________________________________________.WORLD CLASS CHARACTERISTICS – SPECIFICALLY FOR RECRUITMENT:
  72. Identifies (and gets them to apply) employed people who are not actively searching for a job.
  73. Finds the best candidates even at “no-name” companies and universities and during “off recruiting times” (Christmas, summer, etc.).
  74. Uses multiple sourcing tools to ensure all “superstars” are identified.
  75. Continually evaluates the success rate and ROI of each tool and source.
  76. When possible recruits qualified and diverse candidates.
  77. Produces a” higher “superstar, “qualified” applicant, and a lower “turkey” recruit rate than our competitors.
  78. Utilizes technology (including the web, teleconferencing, multi-media, games and virtual reality) to attract and excite high quality applicants.
  79. Use computers, scanners and Intranets to scan, screen & send applications/ resumes immediately to managers.
  80. Offers an exciting but realistic “job-preview” and overview of the corporate culture and mission.
  81. Hiring decisions, offers, acceptances and employee “sign-on’s” can all be done “on-line.”
  82. Utilizes “subtle” recruiting tools like sponsoring professional seminars, web pages, scholarship contests, speaking at seminars etc. designed to identify those “afraid” to be seen in the active job market.
  83. Emphasizes effective “intra-recruiting” tools (e.g. Skills inventory, challenge plans, progression plans, pre-qualifying candidates, career path plans etc.) to identify and place internal candidates at a rate high enough to reduce turnover due to lack of challenge etc. (but that also increases the productivity of transfers).
  84. Continually recruits and develops applicant pools and identifies “soon to be qualified” applicants to allow us to do emergency “instant hires.”
  85. Has the capability to hire a “superstar” as a “corporate resource” instantly (even without a job opening) when a World-Class individual “suddenly” comes on the job market.
  86. The recruitment system attracts “superstar” applicants that do not apply to your chief competitors as well as all of the qualified ones that do apply to your competitors.
  87. Continually communicates with applicants so the maintain their interest and to reduce the likelihood that they will actively pursue other opportunities. It rejects applicants in such a way that they maintain a positive image of us and when possible, provides them with useful feedback on what they must do to become “qualified.”
  88. Has a 10:1 or lower “qualified” selection ratio.
  89. Tracks layoffs, disgruntled superstars, great graduating classes and high unemployment periods to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
  90. Fills “hard to hire” jobs at a higher rate than our competitors.
  91. Surveys applicants and rejects to determine problems and satisfaction levels.
  92. Simplifies the application process and reduce barriers to increase “hits” by “hassle reluctant/time pressed” candidates.
  93. Through realistic and precise recruiting it discourages the unqualified and allows potential candidates to” self assess” and self-select themselves in order to minimize “bad fit” and unqualified applications.
  94. Other _______________________________________________.WORLD CLASS CHARACTERISTICS – SPECIFICALLY FOR SELECTION
  95. The overall selection “score” of new hires accurately predicts performance on the job.
  96. Only uses “knockout factors” that are valid, reliable, job related and have little adverse impact.
  97. Selection criteria are weighted, or ranked depending on their ability to predict.
  98. All KSA’s used are valid, reliable are directly job related and have “face validity” with applicants & managers.
  99. Whenever possible “Content”/ hands on/ “show me” selection tools are used rather than “Construct” tools.
  100. All questions asked during the process 1) Are directly related to this job, 2) Have a range of benchmark answers (each of which has an assigned score and 3) Are documented (along with the answers given).
  101. Current high performing employee’s (resumes) are periodically used as “testers” and run (blind) through the system to “reverse test” its effectiveness.
  102. The employment system has a higher offer acceptance rate than our goal (direct competitors).
  103. In cost cutting companies, there is a lower cost per hire than our goal.
  104. Hires “agile,” flexible and multi-talented individuals that can be rapidly redeployed to “other” areas of need.
  105. Hires the most qualified individuals at the lowest starting base salary, relocation and sign on cost.
  106. Employment systems meet all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), EEOC Uniform Guidelines, EEO/AA, I-9, and applicant flow requirements.
  107. It quickly identifies: “turkeys”, “lookie loo’s”, as well as “serious” and ‘superstar” candidates (and their offer “acceptance” criteria).
  108. Minimizes bad P.R., illegal questions, sexual harassment, negligent hiring and discrimination “events” during the selection process.
  109. All selection decisions are well documented and are periodically reviewed for legal issues.
  110. Manager and candidate satisfaction with the selection process are periodically assessed.
  111. Other ___________________________________________.

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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