The trick, says human-resources-technology consultant Elaine Orler of Talent Function Group, is building software that can predict a good fit between candidate and employer.
There’s an old story about a race between a tortoise and a hare. The hare is super speedy, but he becomes complacent, while the tortoise, slow and steady, eventually wins their race.
Is your recruiting organization the tortoise or the hare? Are you ready to win the race for talent?
As a talent acquisition industry consultant and analyst, I work with clients daily on their recruiting technology and process initiatives. They often engage Talent Function because they’re optimizing an existing recruiting system or about to engage in a new system implementation. Sometimes they need help overseeing an entire project; other times they’re seeking recommendations from a recruitment process and technology audit. Most clients align with either the tortoise or the hare.
First, let’s take a look at the “tortoise” organization. Through my experience in consulting with TA organizations over the last six years, I’m shocked that so many are still playing by the 2003 rule book when it comes to their recruiting processes and technology solutions. With each new client engagement, I’m often scratching my head and wondering, “Why are you still doing X and not Y?” Tortoise organizations have a long way to go to win the race. Although they’re very slow to change, they know they’re in a race for talent and they want to win. Tortoise organizations typically have some of the following deficiencies:
Role of Recruiter
- Inappropriate requisition load (too many or too diverse to be effective)
- Poor role definition between recruiter, coordinator and hiring manager roles
- Dependency on post-and-pray approach to sourcing
- Out-of-date or poorly configured technology solutions
- No candidate relationship management solution to engage in proactive recruitment marketing efforts
- Career website and apply process is not mobile optimized
- Lack of integrations between recruiting systems and/or HRIS
Forecasting & Planning
- Lack of forecasting, and therefore strategy, to meet talent demands
- Lack of metrics to identify recruiting bottlenecks and/or display TA effectiveness
- Lack of strategy and focus on the candidate experience
- Career website does not have compelling or target-rich content
- Apply process is too long and tedious
Sound like your organization? If so, you’d better hurry up because you’re already losing the race for talent. The best of the best talent expect better, from the point at which they visit your career website, all the way through their customized apply and onboarding experience.
Many of you may be thinking but I’m not a huge company, I don’t have the budget or resources to address all of this. However, transforming many of the areas listed above doesn’t cost a lot of money or require significant resources – just a commitment to identifying and fixing what’s broken. I would argue that a lack of commitment to moving the needle forward is costing your organization a lot of money every single day.
“Hare” organizations, on the other hand, have already addressed many of the items listed above. Hares typically don’t sit idle; they:
- understand that there is room for improvement
- continually seek new ways to optimize or replace old legacy systems and processes
- continually work to optimize current recruiting technologies
- are much faster to move on new technology innovations and solutions (i.e. CRM/recruitment marketing, digital interviewing, mobile and/or onboarding and integrations between systems
- are typically aware of and making headway on role realignment and/or process inefficiencies
- have candidate experience initiatives currently under development or on their immediate radar
- recognize that they must become strategic and methodical in marketing through the development of compelling content and leveraging social media channels and recruitment marketing solutions
- have more budget and resources for getting initiatives knocked out faster
Still, hares should be careful not to become overconfident and/or complacent. You’re lucky in that you’re ahead of the curve, but the curve is always moving. Stay the course and push the boundaries. You know you can win the race, but there are a lot of tortoise organizations out there that may beat you next year – or the year after.
If yours is a tortoise organization, identify where the finish line is and make the appropriate moves to beat competitors. Identify and leverage your organization’s strengths and unique qualities. Work to incorporate new improvements to your recruiting processes, technologies and candidate experience.
Not sure where to start? Schedule a focus group with your recruiters and hiring managers. Send out surveys to candidates (both those who were successful through the hiring process and those that were not). Make small improvements so you can move the needle forward.
You don’t have to be the fastest or spend the most money. In fact, taking a slow and steady (and strategic) approach can ultimately win the race.
One of my favorite TV shows in recent years was Person of Interest on CBS. It was the future thinking – not so real but maybe more real than we thought – hour-long drama of a machine built to recognize threats. A machine managed by evil government officials with a back door that provided the heroes with what were considered irreverent numbers (i.e. people) to rescue. A modern twist on the man vs. machine (made by man) storyline.
My career in recruiting started in 1993, which means I’ve been in the field longer than half of the attendees at SourceCon have been alive. While I’ve come to terms with the reality that my stories of machine recruiting (a.k.a. client server Resumix 2.0 on Unix, complete with scan stations, OCR resume processing and skills inventory libraries) are now museum artifacts, this year’s SourceCon was not to be missed. The carefully crafted formula of new meets old, man and machine, was delightfully balanced with a number of amazing female-fronted sessions and powerhouse emcee, Shannon Pritchett. The entire experience is best summarized by borrowing a phrase from my good friend Gerry Crispin, I’m a lifelong student of recruiting.
And I’m still learning – here are my top takeaways from SourceCon:
Man vs. Machine is everywhere. Chances are, I’ll entire retirement holding tightly to the truth that machines cannot replace the human in human resources. However, I’m confident that machines can enable humans to be kinder, smarter and better at what they do. Every session I attended focused on technology in a way that really pushed the envelope of what is possible now vs. later.
The annual SourceCon Grand Master Challenge came with a twist this year, though a human did win, the machine placed third and should not be underestimated. What was really interesting was that while the humans used a dozen forms of technology like data mining and artificial intelligence-based programs to compete, the differential came down to the humans’ ability to think outside the box and actually follow a hunch in some cases. I don’t think it will be long before technology adapts these same behaviors. The big takeaway being that recruiting and specifically sourcing are fully dependent on technology in more ways than we can count, and the more advanced the technology gets, the more solutions we have to find that next perfect person to fill business needs.
At the same time, we don’t need all of the shiny objects to be successful – sometimes we just need to rediscover untapped skills. Jim Schnyder from PepsiCo did an awesome job of breaking down some of what I like to call old school basics using a core candidate relationship management solution. Using the Avature CRM, Jim was able to demonstrate the basic principles of uncovering candidates you already know. In so many instances, sourcing teams focus on finding fresh talent, yet sometimes a gold mine exists with those might have forgotten.
One tip Jim gave, which I believe is critical for recruiting success, is around tracking candidates who said ‘no thank you’ and inviting them to reengage. Recruiting should be personal, but oftentimes recruiters take things personally when someone turns them down and then forget that candidate exists. Right candidate, wrong time is a formula for Right candidate, right time in the future. Inviting these candidates to a community, asking basic questions of them and creating an email campaign to reengage with them is both simple and hugely beneficial. Jim also shared several campaign emails that asked for 60 seconds to respond – the percentage of follow up from those candidates that had already been of interest and immediate value of those that are open to a conversation is a jumpstart on sourcing that next position.
There is plenty of research published by Talent Board, the non-profit organization behind the Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards, which proves that by providing a call to action to a candidate, even one who isn’t ready to join your organization, is far more likely to prompt a referral and leaves the door open to reach back out in the future.
Networking is an art and a skill. Not everyone is comfortable meeting new people – even I struggle to get out of my own way to make new introductions. (No laughing – people think it is easy for me and I assure you it is not – it is a decision, not a strength.) That said, when you’re hanging out with some of the most brilliant minds in sourcing, the ones who have pushed all the edges and still come up with new ways to find that one thing that seems impossible to find, even my decision to network is challenged by how intimidated I feel. The safest place to network with these experts is SourceCon. There is a level of we know how to do this mixed with just as strong a passion to teach it. While I am not going to be writing my own Boolean search string, or hacking a conference attendee list any time soon, I did take away a few tricks for making connections. These include the answer is always no if you don’t ask and just because they said no to your idea doesn’t mean they are judging you as a person.
If you missed SourceCon this time around, check out the event hashtag #sourcecon, follow the speakers and ask questions. A big congratulations to Shannon and her team for delivering one of the best content, conversation and educational conferences I’ve attended in a long time – setting the stage for next month’s ERE Recruiting Conference to raise the bar again.
Most companies use at least one recruiting technology – and sometimes several – throughout the talent acquisition process. To select and deploy these solutions, companies go through an extensive RFP process and choose vendors based on a defined list of requirements before completing the process design and, ultimately, implementation. However, taking this approach overlooks one very important thing: the resource structure.
To understand the relevance of this factor, let’s think about baking. Making a cake requires the following: gathering ingredients, measuring and mixing things together and then baking. Simple enough, right? Wrong. This overly simplistic approach can easily go astray and here’s why:
Tell someone to gather ingredients and you’ll quickly find out that there’s more than one way to accomplish this task. The person could go to the grocery store and walk the aisles looking for each item, while others may go in search of high end cocoa powder and organic, farm fresh eggs.
These methods represent what each talent acquisition team member may expect of a technology. For some, it’s about just getting the job done, for others, it’s about doing things to the best of their ability. As you draft out that list of requirements, consider how each one will impact the desired outcome. Are there shortcuts you can take or do you need a high performing option to handle the volume of your recruiting efforts?
Measure and mix:
Of course, once you have those ingredients in hand, there’s more than one way to measure and mix everything together. Resources may do so methodically using a hand-powered mixer or perhaps choose a more efficient electric or stand option. They can follow the recipe and sift the dry ingredients together before folding in with the wet ones, or they can dump it all together and see what happens. Here you have to determine how each resource works through the labor-intensive part of the process.
It’s critical that you evaluate your team and identify how resources source candidates – do they go to the fastest, easiest and possibly more expensive firms or websites, or do they leverage other avenues to search out and find the candidates? Knowing your team’s behavior will help determine the technology and/or process design that fits their work style.
And now, with that batter prepared, how do you bake the cake? Going back to the ingredients and recipe, there are always lots of choices – the oven, microwave or even the coffee pot. Each of these options has the capability to heat the ingredients enough to create the cake; however, the time and effort needed for each one will vary dramatically.
Thinking on that list of requirements, some companies aren’t always specific enough to evaluate whether or not a solution will meet expectations. For example, if the requirement is for the technology to heat up, a coffee pot would be a suitable way to bake the cake – even though it might not be the most efficient or effective. However, if your expectation is that you can control the desired temperature and cooking time, than the requirement needs to clearly state so ahead of time.
Understanding how your talent acquisition team operates is imperative when considering updates or implementations. Without a clearly defined roadmap, the technology and process design you choose will not fix any existing resource or skills misalignment. So before trying to bake that cake in the office coffee pot, take the time to see your team in action and get to know how they function. Only then can you bring your cooks to the kitchen.