(or Why Recruiters Need To Take a Broader View of the Business) Managers need to do all recruiting. Yes at most firms, recruiters (or executive search firms) do most or all of the recruiting and there are many reasons they shouldn’t! OK, calm down fellow recruiters. You still have an important role to play but you have to take a broader view if you are going to survive in the 21st century. Relax and read why your role must change. Lesson # 1 – Don’t view recruiting in isolation. Recruiting, if done correctly, is an effort that needs to be coordinated with several other corporate functions. Including:
- Knowledge management
- Public Relations
- Competitive intelligence
If you view recruiting as an isolated “silo” you may be helping yourself keep a job in the short term, but you may be hurting the business in the long term by taking recruiting away from managers. Let’s see why. Managers and team leaders play a major role in the success of the business. They are decision-makers and when they are outside the firm they are also “ambassadors” for the firm. When they go out recruiting, they do a variety of beneficial things besides just finding candidates. They help build sales by talking to potential customers and they help build the firm’s presence in the community, thus helping to build good PR and our “brand’s image.” But most importantly, a manager’s role also requires them to be on the leading edge of knowledge and business practice, and recruiting is an extraordinary learning tool. Making managers recruit improves the quality of their decision making! Managers have a tendency to be inward focused. Without “outside contact” they can fall behind in learning about the changes that are occurring in their competitive environment. This lack of “data” can lead to “groupthink,” naivet? and it can lead to some bad decisions being made based on their use of this “old data.” In a fast changing world, a few months of isolation can lead to costly mistakes in product design and customer service. Isolated decision-makers can cause both the qualities of their product and the process decision making to go down as well as weaken the quality of their people decisions. Managers can stay “in touch” and on the edge of knowledge in a variety of ways but one of the best is to keep them current by making them go out and do their own recruiting. The Multiple Purposes Of Manager Based Recruiting: There are many advantages of having managers* (and employees) doing recruiting. The added roles they can play include:
- Helping to sell our firm’s products – Many candidates are also potential customers. Seeing the in-depth knowledge and skill of our managers sells candidates on our jobs and our products simultaneously better than any recruiter (with a shallower knowledge base) ever could! Candidate lists need to become potential client lists and vice versa. Sales people need to become recruiters and recruiters need to also think like sales people.
- Getting to know our potential customers needs – Managers that impact product development and marketing especially need to be educating customers about the products we are developing for them as well as listening to their “voices” and needs. New product ideas might come up during the course of recruiting discussions as well.
- Helping to build our firm’s “brand” and image – Branding sells product but it also directly impacts recruiting by building our image as a “most admired” firm or an employer of choice. All of the top 10 firms appearing on Fortune magazines “most admired firms” list also have great brands. Great people mingling with other professionals is a great way to help further enhance our brand. Recruiters are often not credible or are too busy to worry about building our brand.
- Community involvement and visibility – Larger firms need to worry about how they contribute to their communities. Managers and employees can better represent us in the community just because the sheer number of them increases the number of community contacts that can be made. PR can help teach managers “who” we are trying to influence and what message we are trying to communicate. Job fairs and hiring are another way to help show we “fit” into the community.
- Build relationships with faculty and other research/ thought leaders – Having managers do college and technical recruiting allows them to learn from researchers what new ideas are being worked on. This cross-fertilization is beneficial for product development as well as a great way to get faculty to refer their very best students. Conference presentations by managers also send the message that we are on the leading edge of knowledge. These can help sell products as well as attract recruits.
- Benchmarking best practices (within and outside our industry) – Knowing “their” best practices and sharing ours helps improve our image as well as improve our own management processes. Recruiters, no matter how well intentioned, are not technically savvy enough to understand best practices.
- Gathering competitive intelligence on a competitors products, processes, and “star” employees – Managers can use recruiting and interviews to gain CI information as well as to spot “passive” people to recruit. This information gathering helps keep our managers thinking about how we can build a competitive advantage.
- Learning to differentiate between good and great people and ideas – Managers who are isolated may use “dated” criteria to select candidates. When they are in a “continuous relationship/recruiting mode” they are forced to see “what’s happening in the job market.” Recruiters generally go on keywords and years of experience to assess candidates while managers can go deeper into a candidate’s knowledge and ideas. Ideas generated by these “professional conversations” can help our firm. Continuous recruiting also helps managers to become better judges of what they need in a new hire and what is available in the market.
- Learning about our firm’s “perceived weaknesses and strengths” – Managers can become isolated if they stay in their offices. By meeting potential candidates they can find out and influence what others “really think of us.” Managers that recruit are seldom complacent about “how good we are!”
- Building networks of contacts for the future – By continually sourcing and building relationships managers build contacts that can lead to further learning and referrals. Recruiters also build networks but those seldom help us develop better products because the information is seldom passed on to those that can utilize it.
- Getting to know what applicants expect in a job – In a “free agent” market, managers need to be in touch with the rising (an changing) job acceptance criteria. Although recruiters do this well, managers are more effective in convincing compensation and HR to “up our job offers” to a more competitive level.
- Personal assessment and growth – Retaining managers is a major problem with most firms. Managers who recruit (and make presentations) grow faster than those that sit in their offices do. Lack of growth is a primary reason why managers quit, just like it is for employees.
- Managers are better sales people – Recruiters often lack the credibility and in depth knowledge that managers have. In addition, candidates want to know and trust their future bosses. By extending the relationship beyond the traditional “meeting for the first time during the interview,” trust between the candidate and the manager can be built over time. This extended relationship also improves the quality of the candidate assessment process because it allows for assessment to occur over a longer period of time. Recruiters can converse for a brief period with most technical people but no one ever takes a job based just on what a recruiter says.
[* This holds true unless your managers happen to be “dat’s” (dumb as toast). If they are…either fire them or educate them.] Recruiting Is Learning! There are many advantages of having managers (and employees) doing recruiting but by far the most often-ignored facet is learning. Recruiters do gain a great deal of knowledge and many I know become business experts. They know the latest trends, products, employee and customer expectations but that information is seldom passed on to decision makers. Firms can’t afford to lose this valuable knowledge and relationship building. This brings up another important learning. Minimize the use of executive search and 3rd party recruiters because no matter how well intentioned the recruiter is, this information (in the best case) is lost (and in the worst case), it can actually be used by outside firms to place candidates at our competitors. Knowledge management is all the rage but letting outsiders gain and keep that knowledge is folly! Recruiting is knowledge acquisition in its highest form. Take advantage of it. Think of the entire “system” not just in the narrow area of the need to put candidates in jobs! Ok…But How Do I Get Busy Managers To Actually Do Recruiting! This is the million-dollar question but the answer is simple. Managers don’t want to recruit for a variety of reasons including:
- They don’t know how – Here is where a recruiter can have a major impact. A recruiter at HP I know does no sourcing, interviewing, or resume scanning. Their job is as the coach, the trainer, the consultant and the effectiveness monitor. That is the key role 21st century recruiters need to adopt. Show managers the value of doing their own continuous sourcing and relationship recruiting. Go with them on occasion and teach them how. Influence them to raise recruiting to the top priority. Once they learn how, coach them and monitor their progress. Do not weaken managers by “doing their job for them!”
- Reward managers for great recruiting – Few firms reward managers for great recruiting (or for retention and employee development either). Recruiting consultants need to influence HR to make this a highly measured and rewarded activity. Managers (and recruiters) end up doing what is measured and rewarded.
- Managers can’t do it alone – Enlightened firms like Cisco and HP realize the broad value of recruiting but they go a step further. They involve every employee in the searching and learning role. No recruiter can do it all. By getting thousands of “employee recruiters” into the field as “scouts” they can multiply the benefits to the firm. These scouts are also likely to find the highly desirable “currently employed passive job seeker” while “placing ads” is likely only to attract the active job seeker.
Similar to “ants seeking food,” the more that are out looking the more you end up learning and finding. Make every employee a recruiter through a great employee referral program. Recruiter consultants can help refine these programs, they can also teach employees how to build relationships and how to “continually source and learn!” Summary: Recruiters are notorious for their independence. Managers are notorious for “putting recruiting on the back burner.” If we educate both groups about the “big picture,” the firm will be more successful. Managers need to be continuous relationship-building recruiters and recruiters need to become recruiting consultants and coaches. Take a step back and you will see the future of all HR. Managers will own and do all HR and HR will become productivity consultants, coaches, and trainers. Stop weakening your managers by “doing their people job” for them. It hurts the firm, our product, our brand, and our recruiting efforts! See the big picture…it’s in the “forest…right behind the trees”!