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Although an easy way to recruit, employing contract and in-house recruiters is generally a poor way for companies to attract top industry talent. Furthermore, studies indicate that within 12 months of the hire, 60% of all new hires are considered unsatisfactory (all hires, not just those who were introduced by recruiters). This doesn't mean the under performing employees leave the company-it simply means that position is now filled by an unsatisfactory employee.
Recruiters have an extremely tough job that hinders their ability to recruit the best of the best. A typical contract recruiter must:
• spend hours locating a vacancy to fill
• negotiate their compensation for filling the position
• work with the hiring company to understand the stated and implied qualifications for the position
• possibly post the position on various job boards
• possibly create and place advertising in various media
• spend countless hours on the phone searching for someone, anyone with at least the minimum qualifications that meet the position's requirements who would seriously consider moving companies
• talk to numerous unqualified, overqualified, under-qualified, or not-interested people he/she has called or who have called them
• present the candidate or candidates to the hiring company
• after finding one or more candidates the company may have an interest in, coordinate interviews, follow-ups, offers, and negotiations
• prepare the new employee for their first day on the job
• follow up with the company and candidate to make sure both parties are happy
• and the list goes on
Moreover, usually not a dime of compensation until the job is filled, with the ever present risk of no compensation at all if they cannot find a suitable candidate. The in-house recruiter's tasks, though slightly less time consuming, are very similar to an outside recruiter's.
Based on the above, is it any wonder that the recruiter's primary emphasis is to get someone with at least the minimum qualifications to fill that seat as quickly as possible? Their livelihood depends on their ability to quickly locate a warm, at least minimally qualified person to meet the hiring company's needs. Simply put, top talent isn't a priority-it is a seldom realized luxury.
Since most recruiters are recruiting for positions they have never personally performed or managed, they must rely on the hiring manager or HR's stated minimum qualifications exclusively, even though all positions have implied qualifications also. Many recruiters are unfamiliar with the major players in the industry they are recruiting for, who the top talent for the position is, what expectations a top person in the industry would have of a new position, et cetera.-even if they claim to specialize in that industry. Many in-house recruiters suffer from the same limitations.
Of course, there are recruiters who are the exception, and they are worth their weight in gold.
You don't need a recruiter, you need a recruiting program
Recruiting top talent doesn't happen overnight and doesn't come easily-even for the top companies. Unless you are willing to offer a phenomenal package, recruiting the top sales talent requires building relationships that lead to bringing the individual into your company. Sometimes, when the employment gods are particularly kind, this process can be almost immediate. More often, the process requires time, patience and effort. That is generally where the recruiter-outside and in-house-fail.
Because of the tremendous pressure on their time, recruiters don't have the luxury of developing long-term relationships with top candidates. Most everyone has received the phone call from outside and in-house recruiters recruiting for a position. They inquire as to whether you would be interested. No. Do you know anyone who might be? No. You never hear from that particular recruiter again, or if you do, it's months or years later when the recruiter has another opening and they run across your name again.
Though the common practice, this method of recruiting is terribly inefficient. The candidates the recruiter generates are the people who are ready to move today, and the likelihood that top prospects are looking to move today is extremely small.
Companies need a recruiting program in place to capture those top prospects when they are ready to make the move-and who knows when that will be? And when they are ready to move, will they call? Without a consistent, effective recruiting program, the answer to the last question is-probably not. And many companies erroneously believe that their reputation, visibility, or size will be sufficient to attract the top talent they need. Not true.
What a recruiting program will do
Implementing a consistent, well defined and executed recruiting program will:
• put your company in a position to attract top talent when that talent is ripe
• will place your company at the top of the candidate's mind when the candidate determines the time is right to make a move
• and may help the candidate make a positive move toward your company before he/she may otherwise have decided to change companies
A well-constructed recruiting program is a positioning and branding program for prospective employees. Just as with a company's or a product's positioning and branding, a recruiting program creates in the target:
• an awareness of your company
• an awareness of your company's interest in them
• a positive image of your company as a potential employer
• and the program moves the candidate to think about the possibility of putting themselves in a better position by making the move to your company (however the candidate would define "better position").
Over a period of time, you can populate your most important positions with the top talent that every company seeks but few can capture. It requires time, patience, commitment and a well-designed program.
Elements of a recruiting program
A well-constructed recruiting program contains six elements. There is, of course, considerable detail to each element that must be customized to your company, but all programs must contain:
1. Hiring Manager buy-in
A recruiting program depends on each hiring manager playing his or her part. The success of the program for each team or department is centered on that hiring manager.
That manager knows exactly what they are looking for in the person to handle a particular position. Consequently, there isn't anyone more capable to recruit the position. In any recruiting program the most difficult part is obtaining buy-in to the program from all hiring managers. Typically, since managers will immediately recognize the initial time element required to establish the program, there will be managers whose participation is less than ideal until they begin to see the results of the program.
2. Identification of top talent
Identifying the positions where top talent is required and then identifying that talent requires serious thought and research. Does the company want to hire only the best for every position in marketing and/or sales? If so, that should be a goal known throughout the company. Otherwise, what positions are critical and require the best in the industry?
Once those positions have been identified, everyone, especially the position's direct manager of course, should be fully aware of the crucial nature of the position, and the position's importance and the reason it is considered to be of such importance should be in written format-that which is written becomes more real than that which is only verbalized.
After identifying the crucial positions, the identification of the talent becomes the focus. Both currently known and unknown talent must be identified. Known talent-easy, the company already knows who they are. Unknown talent requires considerable research and some of the best, most cost effective talent is often not the most obvious.
3. Initial contact
A crucial step in the process is the initial approach to the prospective employee. Whether a previously known or unknown prospect, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account prior to the initial contact. Gathering as much information about the individual as possible and their current position will aid greatly in making initial contact.
Contact can be made through any number of channels-e-mail, the postal service, phone, meeting at an industry function, et cetera. However, the initial contact will set the tone for further developing the relationship; and for those prospects unfamiliar with the company, the initial contact will often establish their lasting impression of the company-good or bad.
4. Developing the relationship
The program must have a consistent, reliable, and positive follow-up system to stay in contact with and deepen the relationship with the prospect. Making an initial positive impression with a prospect that makes a move 18 months from now won't help if he or she doesn't remember the company because there wasn't a follow-up program.
It is not uncommon for managers to run across prospects they had contacted only once or twice in the past only to find that the prospect has changed companies and had forgotten about the manager's company after a few months without being contacted again after the initial introduction.
To be effective and workable, the follow-up program must be customized for each hiring manager's style, personality, and work habits. A single, rigid, dictated follow-up system that is not flexible from manager to manager guarantees failure since every manager functions differently and what may work well for one manager, may not work well for another. That manager who is forced to work a system he/she is not comfortable with or that cannot be modified to fit their personality will ultimately refuse to participate. If done correctly, once the initial talent identification and contact has been made, the time commitment to manage that individual's follow-up program is generally minimal.
5. Discover and feed the prospects wants and current dissatisfactions
Once initial positive contact has been made, the goal is to discover the prospect's Wants-and what the prospect is dissatisfied with in their current position. By discovering the prospects areas of dissatisfaction and prying on those areas-assuming the recruiting company can rectify the issues-while, at the same time, discovering and feeding the prospect's needs, which in most instances will not be money, but rather working conditions, recognition, status, a few inexpensive perks, and other easily met needs, the hiring manager can gently prod a prospect into moving companies much sooner than the prospect would have moved on their own.
6. When the prospect is ready to move
One never knows when their top prospects might be ready to make a change. At times the prospect will have little warning themselves. Everyone knows top people who were squeezed out in a merger, who finally got fed up with whatever situation was at their old employer and decided to finally leave on the spur of the moment, or who made a quick change for any number of other reasons. More than likely, a hiring manager would not have known the change was coming until after the candidate had made the decision, but with a properly working recruiting program, the hiring manager will often know even before the prospect realizes it that the prospect is about to make a change.
At times, a prospect the company has developed a relationship with will move specifically because of courting. Usually, however, other reasons trigger the move-the company just happens to be in the right place at the right time because they made it their goal to do so. More often than not, once a prospect the company has been building a relationship with decides to move, the hiring and negotiation process moves quickly. Unlike other hiring arrangements, both parties know one another and have a reasonable idea of what to expect. This, however, will not eliminate the need for both parties to further evaluate one another. It simply makes the process go much quicker. Having developed a broad outline of an offer letter for each position that can be quickly customized for any particular candidate will also expedite the process. Though the details may be slightly different from one candidate to another, the offers will generally be similar.
What happens if your company is not ready to hire when the prospect is ready to move?
You still win. One typical objection from companies considering developing a recruiting program is that they might not be ready or in a position to hire when a prospect is ready to move. The simple answer is that they have had the opportunity to decide IF they want to pursue the prospect. It puts you in control of the situation rather than relying on the slim possibility that a top talent will be available when you are ready. Many companies will make internal changes by creating positions, expanding departments, expanding services, and even creating new businesses and products to accommodate a top talent who became available at a time when they didn't necessarily need that person. However, whether you create a position, replace an under performing employee, or pass on the potential hire, you are in control of the situation-it gives you choices, it expands your options, it allows you to make decisions that you would probably otherwise not be able to make.
Developing a recruiting program can, over time, re-create your entire company. Of course, you won't be able to replace your recruiter overnight-creating a recruiting program and generating the highest quality candidates who are interested in making the move takes time and commitment. Nevertheless, in time, not only will you have eliminated the tremendous recruiting costs to attract average or slightly above average talent, but also all of your most important positions can be filled with some of the best talent in your industry. What would a marketing and sales team-or an executive management team, or product development team-of the best people in your industry mean to your company? Increased productivity, increased sales, reduced operating and personnel costs, and increased corporate options. Equally important, you will have saved thousands, possibly millions of dollars in recruiting costs (and many times after having developed a strong relationship with a great prospect they will move for fewer dollars than they could demand on the open market)-dollars that find their way to your bottom-line.
Paul McCord is the president of McCord and Associates, a Houston, Texas based international sales training, coaching, and consulting company. He is the author of the Amazon and Barnes and Noble best-selling book on referral generation, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2008), and SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar www.powerreferralselling.com
Today's News: Over at Top 10 Sales Articles, the panel had a particularly tough choice selecting the best article for March, but they did and a very worthy winner it is too - you can check it out here
Tomorrow: Thoughts about the blame culture, which appears to be prevalent these days
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