For the CSuite

A Letter to the C-Suite: Stop Getting in the way of your Recruiting Process

Ron Godier
November 22, 2021

I am always talking to clients about processes and how to maximize their Recruiting efforts. Many companies think this conversation should focus on how to make individual recruiters more effective. While I agree that this is an important part of equation it does not address the impact that Leadership has on a company's ability to recruit at a high level

In any situation where I am helping a client build or improve a process I always focus on three areas to get a successful outcome:

  1. Build a process that is designed to inject velocity into hiring once a candidate is identified.
  1. Train the Recruiters and Sources to think and act like an Outside Agency.
  1. Help Leadership understand what success really looks like.

In defense of most leaders out there, they want to create environments where their teams can succeed. Where they get off track is in how we define success.  

Let me explain.

For quite a long time, before companies built out Recruiting functions in their organizations they were dependent upon advertising and Headhunters. Early Recruiting companies understood that they were a primary source of candidates for the companies they served. As such, they charged fees of 30 - 33% of the person's first year salary. This number is not common anymore except perhaps in Executive Search and even there we are seeing compression in the rates being charged.

Leaders loved the speed of the agency teams. They could find the people they needed fast.

However, they began to realize that their dependence on outside agencies for a significant number of candidates was expensive. So they began to pressure recruiting firms to lower their fees or risk losing the business. Organizations also started by fleshing out their Human Resource functions and Recruiting was a place where they could save money by bringing it in house. It's solid business thinking.

Here is the rub.

What was misunderstood was how outside agencies created speed. It wasn’t that they worked faster or were more efficient at processing candidates. It had little to do with how they were compensated, although, the way outside recruiters are paid is a motivator. It wasn’t that they had more skill or that they were more experienced.  

It was how they spent their time.

You see from their perspective it appeared that the process moved so much faster and they wanted to replicate it. In reality, it moves slower and requires more effort to be a really great third party recruiter. The truly great agencies encourage their teams to spend time in the markets they recruit from. They expect them to develop real relationships with candidates that they will need to be able to connect with quickly when a client engages them to fill a need.

So with that in mind let me ask this question and do not read ahead. What are Outside Recruitment Firms paid to do?  

Build relationships. Pure and simple. No Sourcer or AI tech is going to be the magic bullet. Relationships are the key and they take intentional effort and time.

I can tell you that in the times where I am engaged to do an Executive Search for a client, I almost never have to source hundreds of people or put out ads to get a successful outcome. Instead, I leverage long standing relationships that I built in advance of the need.

Some of you are probably saying “well maybe that works at the executive level, but what about our everyday recruiting needs?”

I do not recruit much today and I wasn’t always working on Retained Searches. At the risk of dating myself, I started my career in Healthcare and moved to Technology. Back then I was recruiting things that don’t even exist anymore. In each case I employed the same process then as I do now save a few steps that are required when recruiting leaders.

It’s true that there is a talent shortage. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Candidates' ideas about what work should be are shifting rapidly. Remote and Hybrid environments are now the norm. It may feel like speed is required to compete and it is. It's how you get there that matters. When talent is in flux, trusted resources matter in attracting and hiring high value talented teams.

This is where the C-Suite can help clear the way for their Talent teams to provide an experience that is great for them and the candidate as well.

Continue searching for Tech that helps you locate people and manage the top of the candidate funnel. Develop content that tells your story. Understand that, for a time, you will still be reacting to open needs in the ways you always have. Look at Job Postings as what they are - advertising. Consider changes to your compensation model for your Recruiters that rewards them for successful outcomes. At the same time, begin to measure things beyond time to hire/fill. Understand the role of a Sourcer and have them focus their time on locating people you will need in the future and setting up conversations for your Recruiting Teams.

Remember, the C-Suite is the arbiter of all things culture. It doesn't matter how many foosball or ping pong tables you have. If you reward certain behaviors your people will, for the most part, try to deliver on the measurements you value.  

If you are constantly asking “how fast can we recruit X” your teams will hear you loud and clear. They will try to go faster to give you what you want. Even if what you're asking isn’t realistic.

So what to do?

Invest time and money in teaching them the value of relationships in the market. Educate them on how to effectively build ones they can leverage in the future. Teach them that it's ok to spend time on an activity that does not yield a result today but will at some point.  

Marginalizing or Transnationalizing the real role of a Recruiter yields marginal results.  

Empowering them to do the things that produce the best results may feel like it is running counter to the pace of your business in today’s world. It's not.

It is simply you getting out of the way of the process.  

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