A job posting is an advertisement. You wouldn’t use some other company’s ad for your product, why use them for your job descriptions for your people?
Consistency is important for many reasons and a checklist will help you make sure that you don’t skip steps.
Guest Post by Doug Beabout
The Dow is creeping up to record highs. Consumer confidence is better. The “Fed” is grumbling about inflation. Clients are hiring again. Okay, why then do so many recruiters complain about how tough things are today, particularly where recruiting candidates is concerned?
Recruiters have never faced conditions such as we face today. Clients seek multi-dimensional candidates to fill roles that where created during those downsizing periods. There are many causes for the new scenario. Several roles in a given organization where compressed into one paycheck. They could pull this off because those who survived the reductions and right-sizing campaigns of the late nineties and early 2000’s were happy to work harder to stay employed. Companies exploited this mindset, with “economic justifications”. From early 2001 until early 2008 this climate of position compression in terms of responsibilities persisted as companies “hunkered down” and awaited the now present recovery. As history has proven in the past, many companies saw this willingness to put 10 pounds into a 5-pound bag as away to continue managing human resources after the recovery began. I suspect that this will abate as our economic recovery creates increased CEO confidence, a shift in perspective towards growth and new position creation. Until that time arrives, we are faced with the challenge of finding these people who possess the multi-faceted skills and experience sought by our clients.
During that lull in hiring since 2008 our industry suffered a massive exodus of recruiters. Opinions vary but I estimate that more than half of the practitioners fell prey to the rougher conditions of those years. Many of the casualties were those who embraced the purported fast track to riches based in the exploitation of technology tools to seine in the candidates, job orders and data from the various watering holes across the internet. Job boards, monstrous candidate sites and a myriad of derivations of the same were hailed as the beacon to talent by vendors of the associated technology tools sold as the holy grail of candidate sourcing.
What followed the onset of the recession sealed the fate of these transactional recruiters. The vendors of these candidate sourcing solutions turned towards its surviving market, the HR departments of many firms. While little hiring activity prevailed, the mantra of these vendors was illustrated by the “new wisdom”. This philosophy sold was that once the recession concluded every company who is prepared and well positioned at the gate would be winning the race for talent to come in the recovery to come. Several confederates of our profession jumped on the bandwagon selling the notion that “poaching” potential employees and stuffing a database was paramount to being well positioned.
The complex skills of these candidates in great demand today are generally in the hands of the folks who were survivors of the late nineties’ and early 2000’s cutbacks and reductions of the professional force. Simply put, they are employed. They are working in competitors. They are well aware of their marketability today and quite responsive to the well-crafted call of the skilled and trained recruiter. This is not a new reality. It has always been the case that the best people typically work smart, work hard and do great things while keeping one ear open to the call of opportunity.
The candidate pool is no doubt a shallow one and perhaps as shallow as this recruiter has ever seen. One constant has held up through the last thirty years in my observation; clients have yet to master to essential and elusive skills. These are recruiting and closing; recruiting in the surgical manner practiced by the best recruiters, and closing with the unique advantages inherent in the close and mutually respected relationship we have with these thoroughbred candidates. There is no “Omega Code” secretly held by a few innovative vendors of new tools that leads to success in recruiting. Success will come to those who seek out and master the techniques, tactics, criteria and value that the high-end service recruiter has always provided to the deserving client.
Technology and the internet are, and will always offer tremendous paths to information and research. When wisely exploited it brings even greater competitive advantage and service potential to us. While clients seek these predatory game fish, we represent the truly competitive pathway to talent and success for our clients.
Doug Beabout CPC CSP
Principal Partner, The Howard Sutton Group
President, The Douglas Howard Group
850.424.6933 OR 850.398.1688
Looking only among the people you know is the traditional recruiting process for start-ups. Adding job postings works when you are hiring “easy to find” people. Real hunting must be done when you have reached the limits of these and the sooner you start a social media presence in which your employees can build relationships with other potential employees.
Hiring for today’s problem is not a fit for the long-run. How does this job fit into the company’s overall hiring strategy? How well does the hiring strategy fit into the company’s over all business strategy?
Do some of your hires feel like emergencies?
Since no company would spend the time and resources to hire unless they have a problem to solve that can’t be solved by the people already employed, it is part of the hiring manager and HR’s mission to foresee the problems while they are small enough to give enough time to find the right person to solve those problems. This is especially true in bioscience companies which have very structured time lines. Emergency hires occur when you allow too much time from the discovery of the issue to the start of a good search. This can mean that you end up hiring the first person whose title fits.
Why is that? Many job descriptions are boiler-plate – related to the title and not to the problem that needs to be solved. If such a job description is posted, the likelihood of hiring the person who can solve the unmentioned problem goes way down. It becomes a matter of luck: is the person who can solve the problem is currently looking for a job? Does he know your company? Will he happen upon your generic posting in a timely manner? Will it move them enough to apply? Otherwise you simply receive resumes from whoever is looking for a job, any job. Are you running your company on luck?
Each problem needs to be defined as soon as it becomes visible, using the language most likely to connect with the person who can solve it. If you use language that is only used within the company and not commonly understood, you may well be missing the best people. If you use very generic language, you will also miss the people you need. If you use the right language, you will have a better chance of catching the people who understand what you need. Although when you post it, you will still get the “any job” people.
Since I started recruiting, I’ve seen that companies want to hire people who can solve their problems and move their product along – or knights in shining armor who can slay their dragon and protect their baby.
Most companies don’t call a third-party recruiter until they have used their internal resources to no good results. This really can make the problem even more acute. It is the third-party recruiters who actually hunt for those knights.
An alternative is to start relationships with the problem-solvers before the problem arises. Do you have a Group on LinkedIn for your employees to discuss the science with future potential employees? Or on Facebook? Or on your website? A regular presence on social media with videos and pictures and contests?
What problems do each of your departments have coming up? Succession planning is only one of them. Hitches in the drug development process or losing a key employee are a few more. Do you have time to think about them?
Contact a recruiting specialist in your industry, or niche or function and establish a long term relationship. Bring them in for events and to get to know your team. Ethical recruiters do not recruit from their clients. Introduce them to all your hiring managers and discuss your coming staffing problems. Pick their minds for ideas. No really good recruiter wants the searches you can fill satisfactorily using a job board. Just give us the mission-critical searches, the ones that require both a specific skill set and experience and whose execution requires focus and time. And give us enough time to actually find the right person.
It makes no sense to hire unless it is part of a strategic plan. Hiring for a foreseen situation is much better than hiring after the problem appears in full ferocity.
Will you join us to discuss how to find the people who can add value to your company, slay your dragon and protect your “baby” because they love what they do?
Click here for the G+ HOA – Friday, 9/19 at 11:30 am PDT
Click here for the YouTube recording. any time at your convenience after noon on Friday.
I’d like to put together a series of monthly Hangouts or video conferences with the best and brightest. Who should I ask?
Do you have apprentices in your R&D department? Who is being trained to step in and up? Plan your staffing in advance, not after the position opens up.