“If you can win the war in talent, everything else changes,” so said SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia describing how he believes "recruiting is a mission-critical function" for a business, not a task that you should crowbar into your busy day after all your other tasks have been crossed off your list. In his "Focus on People" presentation to Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders he also said that employees should see recruiting as a privilege where they get to represent the company and attract the best people to join.
I have also often written about how I feel being asked to recruit on behalf of a client is one of the greatest privileges. After all, back in the school playground, who didn't want to be the one picking the team!?
That's why I get a real buzz from placing great talent in great companies and organisations - I get to help pick the team that will deliver great business missions and audacious projects.
Many clients tell me that they don't feel that recruiting is a privilege though. They feel real pain when hiring talent. Where should they go to find the best people? How will they know they've made the right hire? What if they can't retain the talent once they've trained them up? Etc, etc, etc. Increasingly, clients are also citing skills shortages, greater competition for talent and rising salary expectations as reasons they are reluctant recruiters.
Here are ... 5 Ways To Turn Pain Into Passion And Turn Recruitment Into A Privilege.
1 - Get Help
No major surprise here, I guess you'd expect an IT recruitment specialist to suggest that you should hire the services of IT recruitment specialist. Think of it this way, a group of my friends made a New Years Resolution this year to not waste their time doing things that they loathe. Instead, they have hired someone to do those things for them and are spending more time indulging their own passions. Things like cleaning and vacuuming, gardening, car washing, dog bathing have all been ‘outsourced’. Here's the thing, the folks who now do these tasks seem to have a real passion for them (even the cleaner!) and more importantly, because of this passion and the fact that this is how they spend their days, they are better at these jobs too.
So if you find recruiting a chore or a challenge, chances are you would get more from the process by partnering up with a specialist recruiter for the role you are looking to fill. The more specialist the role, the more specialist the recruiter you need ... I mean, my friend Becky's gardener could probably do her dusting and cleaning too, but she might not get the same sparkly taps.
2 - Get Help From Someone Who Will Share The Risk
One of the pains many hirers fear is the cost of getting it wrong. With good reason, the cost is well documented, at mid-manager level, on a £42,000 salary, a bad hire can cost a business more than £132,000 according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). 85% of HR decision-makers admit that their organisation has made one.
Beyond the financial cost, morale and productivity often take a substantial hit too AND the effect on company culture can last beyond the employee's time with you. Bad habits spread like a virus and can take months to break.
The best way to mitigate this is to use a specialist recruitment partner who will share the risk. In practice, what this means is no upfront fees, no retainers, monthly payments that are spread over a substantial initial period and if the hire doesn't work out - you stop paying.
3 - Never Stop Recruiting
I heard an interesting insight from a CIO today, "We never stop recruiting," he said.
I've written many times about the importance of having an employer brand. That's the thrust of what this CIO was saying, they never stop recruiting in the sense that everything that this firm does is geared towards attracting the best talent. Customer service, social media, industry reputation - everything! The ethos, basically, is that every order is placed by a potential hire, every Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn follower or connection could be the next perfect candidate. The IT industry is increasingly "like a village" and word (good or bad) spreads fast.
"We don't want to put off a future recruit because they were once disappointed as a customer or they once read something on social media that painted us in a bad light," he said.
Thinking like this means that when they do actively recruit they find the best new talent is beating at their door!
4 - Treat Interviewing / Screening As An Opportunity To Get To Know Yourself As Well As Your Candidate
One of my favourite parts of the recruitment process is where I really get to know the role I'll be seeking to fill and the culture of the organisation looking to fill it.
It's obvious that, as an outsider, I'd have to do this but the truth is that many firms have not sussed this out for themselves before placing a job ad! How can you attract like-minded people if you don't know what like-minded looks like.
It's especially important when hiring for specialist IT and project management roles that you really drill down on what key skills, competencies and personality traits the candidate will need to bring to the role to be successful. You need to have this straight in your head, if not before you place the ad, certainly before you invite candidates to interviews. Know this and you know what questions to ask, what answers to look for and you'll find the whole process more instinctive. HR teams that include the hiring manager in this process get the best results.
Alternatively, the best recruitment partners also offer great interviewing and screening.
5 - Too Many Candidates
Many new clients say that this was a problem that was instrumental in their decision to get recruitment help.
Having a huge number of applications sounds like a lovely problem to have but time spent sifting through unsuitable candidates is time wasted and it prolongs the process unnecessarily turning into a chore, plus it increases the risk of making a bad hire.
Interestingly, almost all hirers who have ever shared this complaint have blamed the candidates for applying for roles for which they are clearly not suited. I'd challenge this and suggest that too many bad fit candidates, is a symptom of incorrect job and role description. Your job ad must speak directly to your ideal candidate, subject matter experts write the best ads because someone who has performed in a role speaks the language of the role. If you don’t have the right specialism in-house to write the ad and job role (after all that’s possibly why you’re recruiting) choosing a partner who offers subject matter expertise works just as well.
Also, if you are using a recruitment partner choose one that won't just throw a pile of CVs at you hoping that something sticks. A partner worth its salt will get to know your business culture and the specifics of the role AND they will have robust screening and filtering processes in place to ensure that only the best-fit candidates are presented for your consideration. Some of my best results are when I present a short list of ONE - screening can be THAT laser focussed!
Recruitment is similar to dating, imagine turning up at a speed dating session and giving the impression that you found the whole thing a chore you could do without, or not dressed to impress. You'd leave without a date - or worse with the wrong date. Similarly. recruitment should be something that you do with passion and gusto. If the candidate is worth reaching out to, they’re worth investing time on before you even hire them.
And ... if you can't muster the gusto, you need to hire someone to whom it comes naturally.
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