Culture of Experts
Secret recruiting strategies
Because anything and everything is widely shared on the internet, the mention of trade secrets becomes more of an invitation to an internet search, to discover the answers. Professional recruiters do have strategies that they may or may not share. The strategies that an aerospace engineer recruiter uses may not, however, work for a recruiter who recruits within the medical field. Also, as the job market changes, some strategies may need to be altered, to keep up with the times. Sometimes, there are more job openings than job seekers. Sometimes there are more job seekers than open jobs. Market trends change the game, and some recruiting strategies will need to adapt.
In this module, we will go over some of the basic concepts and widely used strategies, specific to finding expert-level talent. As with all strategies, there needs to be an approach that is open to trial and error. The job market and candidate pool are ever changing, there will never be a set-in-stone way to get to a positive result. This module will provide enough information to send one in a fruitful direction, however, the journey will require an appropriate amount of time and expertise, performed by someone, to yield fruit.
Why would a recruiter give free consultation, so that a company can recruit themselves?
It’s not unusual for experts to encourage others to take on their area expertise. A good car mechanic will provide basic trouble shooting tips before they take on a job that they know is worthy of their expertise. Experts crave challenges that will build their careers, not easy jobs that can get them by.
The time to recruit
Sometimes, the best-recruiting strategy is to exhaust all possible strategies, which requires a lot of time. Hiring managers who take on recruiting activities should understand the realities of time required for an exhaustive candidate search. If a hiring manager spends only two or three hours a week searching for potential candidates, they will be sampling a limited segment of the candidate pool, which might not bring them to the best candidates available. If they spend most of their week recruiting, they will most likely be neglecting other requirements of their position. Human Resources generalists who also recruit often fall upon circumstances that are even more demanding. They may have to recruit on a number of positions covering a number of departments, on top of their day-to-day job duties. HR duties include efforts that ultimately retain existing employees so that there is no need to look for new ones.
Because of the time demands, companies with open REQs are often pushed to a more expensive choice; either hiring a dedicated internal corporate recruiter or contracting an external recruiting agency. Contracting an external agency for a contingent search is a low-risk choice, as there are no costs until there is a satisfactory hire. The total cost might be more, however, 100% of the money spent will go towards a successful hire. Since the recruiting agency recruiter is working on high commission or straight commission, there is a high probability that they successfully place candidates on a regular basis. If they can survive, they are good. If they can prosper, they are exceptional. A recruiter who does not want to work under a heavily commissioned pay structure is more likely to work as an internal corporate recruiter.
Contingent Recruiting agency -VS- Retained Recrtuiting Agency -VS- Internal Corporate Recruiter
Contracting a third party recruiting agency means reaching out to a company that might also call themselves an employment agency, search firm, recruitment firm, talent agency or executive search firm. These agencies contract on a contingent basis or with a retainer. A retainer guarantees the agency compensation for their hard work and expenditures, even if the hiring company cancels the search or fills the position using internal resources. Retainers benefit the agency and lowers agency risk, while increasing the risk within the hiring company. Because of this, the placement fee is often lower. Contingent searches require agencies to take on all of risk and all of the expenses, so the fee can be rather high. Usually recruiting agency fees are percentage, based on the placed candidate’s first year of compensation. A 20% to 30% fee is typical within the industry, and depends on a number of factors. Since there is no risk or expenses on the part of the hiring company, and the fee is only paid if there is a hire, contingent terms are very attractive for the hiring company. It is best, however, for a hiring company to respect this relationship. Contracting multiple contingent agencies and canceling searches will lead to a bad reputation. Contingent recruiting agencies will not work with a hiring company that does not provide a reasonable chance of success within a functioning relationship. Candidates will be hesitant to apply to a hiring company if they are approached by multiple recruiting agencies for the same job opening.
Hiring internal corporate recruiters is a common practice, mostly with large companies, when they are experiencing growth. Often, they work with external recruiting agencies, to fill more difficult roles. Corporate recruiters have many challenges. They are expected to recruit on all types of positions, where most recruiters focus on certain occupations and industries. They have to wear many hats, as they are often involved in the interview process, hiring decisions and onboarding. When there are company layoffs, they are usually the first to go. Internal corporate recruiters come in a wide range of compensation. Good recruiters are in tune with the job market and know how to go where the money is.
In addition to weekly compensation, hiring an internal corporate recruiter will require expensive recruiting software. LinkedIn is the industry standard for proactively searching candidates, based on their home grown LinkedIn profiles. It costs about $5,000 per seat, per year, with quantity discounts available. An applicant tracking system might not be a necessity, but can usually save time and money by automating various tasks. They start at about $3,000 per year. Online job posting sites also cost money. They typically charge on a per-posting or per-click basis, so pricing will vary with usage. LinkedIn offers a job posting option, which is a yearly contract and quite expensive. Cutting corners on these tools will result in diminished returns. Any recruiting agency that is not fully invested in these tools is not a real recruiting agency.
Take responsibility for talent
The ability to add exceptional talent to an organization can be one of the most important qualities of leadership. Another important quality of leadership is delegation. If leadership delegates responsibilities and tasks associated with talent acquisition, at what point are they overly removed from the process?
There is no perfect formula to determine the best way to delegate talent acquisition, however, the chart below might help. It can provide a better perspective, regarding the division of labor, necessary to secure top talent.
Talent Acquisition Delegation
On average, who is doing the work to fill an open position and how many hours a week are they spending?
[ ] Hiring Manager – hours spent per week …………………….. (active search) _________ (passive search) _________
[ ] HR – hours spent per week …………………………………… (active search) _________ (passive search) _________
[ ] Internal Recruiter- hours spent per week ……………………. (active search) _________ (passive search) _________
[ ] External Employment Agency – hours spent per week ……. (active search) _________ (passive search) _________
In the world of recruiting, there are two types of candidates, active and passive.
Active candidates are those who are unemployed, underemployed, or unhappy with their current work situation. Simply put, they are actively job hunting. Searching for active candidates is usually done through online job search sites like indeed, glassdoor, Monster and ZipRecruiter. On these sites, job are posted, active candidates apply, and resumes are reviewed.
For large companies and employment agencies, the recruitment of active candidates can include the use of a large database, often referred to as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Using technology that is built into the database, candidates can be organized, classified, and matched with specific positions.
Unfortunately, active candidates do not represent the entire work force and a database consisting of active candidates may not represent a pool of top candidates. Why? Top candidates can quickly find a job. Once they find a job, they will stop looking. As the active candidate database ages, its best entries will be the first to lose relevancy.
Although the talent acquisition process for active candidates is fairly simple on the front end, a lot of time can be spent sifting through resumes to find a fit. It is not uncommon for candidates to apply for positions that are vastly different than their experience, which adds to the amount of resumes submitted. Job postings often produce candidates that are serial applicants. This means that they constantly apply for jobs and repeatedly show up in searches.
Passive candidates are successful at what they do and happy with their current employment situation. They are not actively job hunting, however, they are open minded to new opportunities. Because passive candidates are not applying for jobs, recruiters must proactively find them. To do this, they will use intense internet research methodologies to hone in on specific skills and experiences. Once passive candidates are found, recruiters will reach out and sell the opportunity at hand.
When a recruiter communicates with a passive candidate, they unlock them, turning them into an active candidate. This means that the candidate will not only consider the opportunity presented to them by the recruiter, but all opportunities out there. This is driven by natural curiosity and the need to find a point of comparison. When your neighbor calls you about a great deal on a used car, the first thing you will do is search that make and model on the internet, to see other options and gauge the aggressiveness of the price. Because of this curiosity, it is important for employers to process all candidates as quickly as possible. A two week delay might translate into two other interviews with two other companies. In this situation, a job offer might be met with competing job offers, lowering the chance of a hire.
A few notes regarding passive candidates:
Tips for online job postings (to find active candidates)
This includes the posting of jobs on indeed, glassdoor, Monster and ZipRecruiter, to name a few.
1) When using an online job posting website, get posting advice from a company customer service representative. These websites typically charge for their services, and consultation is a part of the service. These representatives should be able to review your actual postings and provide criticism, advice and best practices.
2) Post a job in a way that will attract the candidates that you want. Most formal job descriptions are gleaned from the internet or company applicant tracking software. If the job description is long and indirect, it will not attract applicants. Shorten the job description by pulling the most important wants and needs, and expressing them in a way that is easy to understand. Briefly sell the opportunity, by mentioning the top attributes.
3) Be conscious of keywords. If there are multiple job titles that describe the position, include them within the post, so that it will come up in a search, regardless of which title is searched. For example, a purchasing position should include the keywords purchaser, buyer and possibly procurement. On some job posting websites, duplication of keywords might help the posting rank higher in a search. This is a good question to ask a representative.
4) Take advantage of applicant tracking systems that include job posting features, which send a single job posting to multiple job posting websites.
5) After posting an ad, search on it as if you were a candidate. Use the keywords that they would use. Make sure the posting shows up early in the search and looks professional. A posting that falls on page six of a job search may never be viewed by potential candidates. If this happens, ask the customer service rep how you can get your posting to rank higher. It will probably cost you money, but they will have a solution.
Tips for an exhaustive internet search (to find passive candidates)
LinkedIn recruiter is one of the most used tools for proactively searching for passive candidates. LinkedIn has many resources in place to help users become search experts.
1) Understand that proactive searches require a lot of skill and patience. They are not for the feint of heart. Dedicate time to learn. Dedicate time to search through hundreds and hundreds of profiles.
2) Using LinkedIn search features in tandem with a keyword boolean search will provide the best results. LinkedIn will provide an easy way to search on a title, you simply enter a title into the title designation. Entering the same title into the keyword area, however, will provide different results. One needs to learn how to master both, in order to thoroughly search on all of the relevant profiles.
3) Learning LinkedIn tools and boolean search strategies goes beyond the scope of this module. Using LinkedIn resources as well as searching and watching YouTube videos will provide invaluable information. Putting what is learned into practice and experimenting with different strategies will make one an expert at finding experts, over time.
4) Once a fitting candidate is found, meaning their profile matches well with the job opportunity, an outreach will need to be made, from you to them. Some occupations and industries allow easy communication through phone calls. Researching business phone numbers and calling potential candidates while they are at work. Some communication efforts are best facilitated through a message using LinkedIn’s InMail messaging feature. LinkedIn does limit the amount of messages they provide within their contracts, and are expensive to add-on. Being aware of LinkedIn InMail usage is a best practice. Learning how to communicate with a potential candidate goes beyond the scope of this module. Again, using LinkedIn resources and watching YouTube videos will go a long way.
Once you have a stellar resume in your hand, it’s time to start thinking about a job interview. Some hiring managers look at the job interview differently than most. They look at it from the perspective of subtraction. Rather than collecting the enormous amount of information needed to determine an excellent candidate, they will focus on information that might weed out a poor candidate. Although, weeding out candidates may sound a bit barbaric, it can force a company to hire above a certain standard without being seduced by specific skills and experience.
The subtractive process is best performed at the beginning of the interview, as there is less of an emotional attachment to the candidate and less room for bias. Certainly, as the interview transpires, the direction can head into positive territory. Here, candidates can promote their skills and experience and sell themselves.
What are some of the negative attributes a hiring manager should look for in a subtractive interview?
Does the candidate think that they are bigger than the job?
Is this position the next logical step in their career or is it their dream to open a coffee shop?
Does the candidate lack respect for the position, company, industry, product and/or service?
Did they do their research and will they develop a passion for the position?
Does the candidate have personal issues that might show up within the workplace?
Will a bad attitude show up to bog down the corporate culture?
Does the candidate have unrealistic expectations?
Will there be any surprises when faced with the following?
• Intense work ethic requirements
• Long hours, exceeding the 40 hours work week
• Travel requirements
• Unique corporate culture requirements
• Challenges specific to the position that had caused issues or turnover in the past
To develop candidate questions, many interviewers use the STAR method:
S – Situation
T – Task
A – Action
R – Result
STAR is a method that can help interviewers collect candidate information as it tells a whole story within their work history, rather than a one-dimensional answer. With STAR, the candidate is asked to provide information on a past situation, tasks assigned to the candidate within this past situation, the actions that the candidate actually took to complete the task assigned to them, and the results of those actions. What is the desired outcome? If the candidate successfully completed the task in a way that markedly improved the situation, they get bonus points in the interview.
STAR is simplified in the above paragraph, however, it can be very difficult for a candidate to produce this information, within this format, on-the-fly. The best interviews are conversational, as they allow the candidate to share information in a more spontaneous fashion. If the STAR method is use, it will probably glean better results as a point of reference for the interviewer’s conversational interview rather than a task assigned to the candidate.
There are three important skills that a hiring manager needs to have
1) The hiring manager needs to know when to commit time and/or money necessary to conduct a passive search and that all participants are doing their part in the search.
2) The hiring manager needs to know when to move search efforts from an internal resource (HR or internal recruiters) to an external resource (recruiting agency or executive search firm).
3) The hiring manager needs to make sure adequate time is spent on the search, as the search process requires a lot of time.
Note: Timing is (still) everything. If an organization experiences a long term gap in its talent, it will eventually lose market share.
A word about recruiters who work for external recruiting agencies
Agency recruiting is a misunderstood profession. There is no specific college course nor college degree for it. Seven out of ten who pursue the profession will fail.
For the most part, contingent recruiting is an all-or-nothing proposition. A candidate who falls through the cracks will bring an agency $0 in placement fees. A successful placement can typically generate between $10,000 and $30,000 in placement fees. The recruiter will make a percentage of the placement fee, usually rolled within some type of base pay against commission compensation plan.
Some recruiters will work within an industry and/or position niche. A recruiter who only recruits mechanical engineers within the aviation and aerospace industry would be an example of a niche recruiter. By specializing in a specific type of recruitment, they can identify all available candidates within a geographic area and present them to all companies that are willing to look at them. At this level, the task at hand is both research driven and strategy driven, finding candidates and connecting specific candidate skills with fitting job opportunities.
Although the trading floor is behind closed doors, the battle for top talent is as fierce as the trading of any valuable commodity. Every day, there are winners and losers. With every hire, there will be a contribution to goods or services that will allow one company to better compete with another.
Recruiting itself is an unconventional position
Whether using an internal recruiter or an agency, the actual person who is recruiting for a particular position is in an unconventional position. If the recruiter is an Unconventional Expert, they will fill the role well.
In module #1, we defined unstructured positions as those that require an individual work-process, to fill gaps in operational company-process. Within recruiting, there is a strong process that needs to be followed to find and develop candidates, however, it is a very unstructured process. Like trying to solve a murder mystery, the recruiter goes through twists and turns to discover the best candidates. Each recruiter has their own methodologies, which cover:
• The wording of job posts.
• Outreach to potential candidates.
• Candidate conversations.
• Boolean search strategies to find candidates on the internet.
• The interpretation and understanding of the position being filled.
Recruiting becomes as complex as the roles being filled. Recruiters need to know the requirements, as they pertain the the requisition. Job titles change meaning, from industry to industry, and sometimes, company to company. Recruiters must understand the details.
Recruiters need to be very creative. They have to develop an idea in their head of what a perfect candidate will look like and try to match it with the realities of the candidate market. They will need to create each step of the way.
Each search is different and one strategy will not cover multiple searches. Changes are constantly made to customize each search.
Each search assignment is s separate project, with a beginning, middle and end. The recruitment process fits well within the category of an unconventional project.
Recruiters use their individual work-process to find candidates. Their ideas are often candidates; as they are what the recruiter believes is what the hiring manager wants. Like the testing of an idea, the candidate will pass or fail. With failure, the recruiter gains knowledge of what the hiring manager wants and uses the rejected candidate as a platform for new and better candidates.
Culture of Experts is a free talent acquisition and employee development program created by Martin Haslinger.
Please proceed to module #14: AI: What Jobs will it replace?
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