Video: Help Your Recruiter Deliver the Right People

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Do you expect your recruiter to read your mind or the mind of your hiring manager?  

Help him or her out by communicating what you really need to solve the company problem!  What exactly does the right person need to accomplish to solve the problem you have?  Who does he/she need to interact with?

This is so much more than what they “have” – like a PhD in a niche topic or 5 years of experience at one of your direct competitors.  If these things are really necessary, be prepared to tell your recruiter why!

A little time, a big impact
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Social Media for HR

HR folks are busier than a cat with puppies.

Do you have time for social media?  Do you have time NOT to? Having a web presence used to mean a website that was prepped when the company started and then, perhaps, taken care of by the corporate communications person or marketing.  HR only had to up-date the careers page by sending the latest job posting to the webmaster. 

Not so much today.  Now there are career pages on your company’s LinkedIn and G+ Pages, job postings in LinkedIn, other jobs sites, and that is not even to mention the need for employment branding. 

Do you have a plan to make your company attractive to the top tier of potential employees?  Is it part of your annual hiring plan? And how much time will it take?  The idea has been around now for years but many small biotech companies have simply not implemented it.  Last year Claes Peyron wrote a blog about the 9 Steps to a Successful Employer Branding Strategy on It boils down to know your long-term needs and who has the skills and expertise to take care of them and then be visible in their world.  Social media is the means to this end. 

Do you have a spreadsheet of the groups, communities, websites and social media that your kinds of employees use?  Are your current employees using LinkedIn or Facebook?  Google+ or Twitter?  Do you have these lists sorted by company function (i.e. Research people here, Accounting there)?

Do you ask your current employees to post articles, blogs or links for and about your company?  Do you give them time to do it and make it part of their job?

Transparency or a window into the company will allow the best and brightest of your potential hires to evaluate the company and interact with your people inside.  Your people can let you know how that goes and if these wannabe employees are worth pursuing. 

Hospitals have been on the cutting edge of this, showing us what it is like to be, for example, a nurse in the pediatric ward.

The career pages on the company website or LinkedIn or G+ Page can be used to host videos, pictures, audios and other quotes by and about your employees to demonstrate what it is like to work there. 5 great Employer Branding videos

Maren Hogan has written a lovely short blog on why it is important


Do you need any help gathering the information you need to do this?  Check out ConnieOnCall

The pain in recruiting

Overwhelmed Office Worker
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Overwhelmed Office WorkerFrom my discussions with HR people and hiring managers, most feel that recruiting is a pain.  The hiring managers know that they need someone, but are frequently too busy actually doing the job to have time to review resumes and sit through interviews.  Some of them are really not well-trained in how to interview and most don’t understand how many steps there are before the resume appears on their desk and the interviews get scheduled, nor how it changes things if they have to keep putting off the reviews or the interviews.   And therein lies the pain for the HR people who do know what happens if the hiring manager can’t (won’t) take the time to define the job properly, actually sort through the stack of resumes that the HR person has already screened or schedule and show up to the interview. 

They both know how important it is to have a well-functioning team and how disruptive it is to be short of the right people.  We can even put a number on the cost of not hiring in a timely and efficient manner.

So what can be done?  “Start as you mean to go on” is an old British saying.  Plan the action and then stick to it.  When you promote or hire a new manager, (or an old one needs a new employee) let them know that hiring for his team is part of the job and that there are best practices to be followed, including such things as using template for job postings that includes things like “what 5 things will the successful employee complete by his first performance evaluation” and including those on the actual performance evaluation.  (Click here for a template for determining what the job is about) That the manager will make time for discussion with HR about the recruiting process, will make time to review resumes/online Profile/etc. and will make time in a timely manner for interviews.  Minutes escape us but hiring the right person for the job needs to be a priority.

Other complaints about recruiting involve people (recruiters or applicants) who did not read the posting and sent resumes that are completely off-target, thus wasting the HR person’s time; the length of time it takes to find the right people even if you retain a recruiter, especially since there are so many people currently out of work; the cost of a third-party recruiter (contingency or retained); the time it takes from the hiring manager’s and HR person’s schedule and the time it takes from the decision to the actual on boarding. 

Some of these pains can be solved by acknowledging that “it takes 3 minutes to cook a 3 minute egg” and that “the workman is worth his fee”.  But you need to know what you are getting in that purchased egg.  Are there parts of the process you would rather do yourself?  Parts that you would definitely hire someone else to do? 

Candidates want recruiters to “be the job fairy” and instantaneously grant them a job.  HR and hiring managers want recruiters to “be the job fairy” and spontaneously (while reading their minds) present them with the right hire.  Unfortunately, recruiters are simply human, although we try to augment that humanity with as much of the latest tech support we can get.

What is your particular pet peeve or pain around recruiting?

Parts of recruiting

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Scheduling interviews in notebookWhat are the steps to finding the easily found and how are they different from finding the hard-to-find?

You in HR juggle many tasks.  Each of those tasks from recruiting through compensation, employee relations, organizational development to mergers, acquisition and “right sizing” have many parts.  I’m no expert in comp or OD or M&A, but I’ve been recruiting for over 16 years.

Here is what I know about recruiting:

You have to know what you are looking for.  None of us can read minds, especially those of hiring managers who are not sure themselves of what they need.  Holding the hiring manager to reality and getting the details of the job can be simple or far more complex and difficult than it should be.  Do you have a standard form for getting these details from your team leaders?  Do you use the things desired to 1.) write the job description and 2.) do the performance review form for that job?  Generic job ads tend to get generic applicants.  You don’t need a generic employee, you need someone with specific skills to solve specific problems and you won’t get those unless you know what they are and ask for them.

Once everyone agrees on what the ideal candidates will be able to do (not simply have – we all have known PhDs who are not ready for industry) then you have to know how and where to look.  You have many choices:

  • Search your database of previously received resumes
  • Post the job (and possibly pay a contingency recruiter)
  • Ask your current employees for referrals
  • Call into your competitors, call your network, do Boolean searches on the internet and look on LinkedIn yourself
  • Hire an extra employee as a short-term contract recruiter to do the above.
  • Give an exclusive to a contingency recruiter (who will do all of these things.)
  • Hire a retained recruiter (who will have his staff do much of the “looking” and will do the pre-screening and initial face-to-face interview.
  • Hire a boutique, a la carte recruiter or sourcer who will do only those parts of the search that you don’t have time for or expertise in.

(I’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these in a separate post.)

Once you have a flow of applicants and resumes and have acknowledged each one, then sorting them is the next step.  It is remarkable how many people want “a job, any job” and will send a resume just because you posted a position, any position.  So eliminating the generic resume senders will reduce the pile considerably. Studies have shown that as many as 99 out of 100 resumes are completely off-target.

Using an ATS (applicant tracking system) will also eliminate many of course, but beware that, unless you program in the synonyms for each of the keywords, you are likely to lose potentially great applicants.  Smaller companies may not have an ATS and it is the responsibility of HR to sort the incoming emails and paper copies.  Having a good list of keywords for each function can be a big help.  This would also be done by any people you hire to help you – in-house or external.

Once you have eliminated the obvious “bad” resumes (and I know that you don’t have time to be the Job Fairy and figure out where any one particular person might fit into the company even if it is the Chairman’s grandson), then you and/or the hiring manager need to look at the screened resumes more closely.  Is this person known to anyone on the team?  What do they think?  Does the experience shown make it likely that this person could actually solve the problem the team is hiring to solve?  When that stack is reduced to just a few, then it is time to schedule phone screens or phone interviews to make sure that the person matches the resume if you have not hired someone else to do this.  Because this screening takes time, it is good to have a process that tells the obviously “wrong fit” applicants that they are not being considered for this particular role in a timely manner. They are waiting for your response and the longer they wait, the less positive things they will have to say about your company (on social media and elsewhere).

If the screened candidate does seem to fit, then it is time to schedule a face to face interview.  Do you sit in on these interviews or are you responsible for both phone screens and in person interviews?  Is your hiring manager good at interviewing?  Or does he or she simply want to hire the “likeable” person, rather than the one with the best skills and expertise? Do you need to train your hiring managers on interviewing?  Most people have been the interviewee but not the interviewer and it can really stress the new manager.  We don’t get any formal training in hiring, generally speaking and many managers “just go with their gut.”  This can turn out to be a disaster.  The less charismatic applicant could well be the better person for the job.

Interviewing by committee sounds like a good idea in that you get input from all the “stakeholders”, but it can make a bad interviewer even worse because he/she depends on the rest of the team to make the decision for him. Yes, input is good, but the first interview and the final decision should be made by the person who will be supervising the new hire.  That is the relationship that needs to be strongest. If you think of interviewing like dating, having your date meet your parents on the first date is incredibly stressful and not likely to show him in the best or most realistic light.

Once the decision has been made, then all of the people who were not chosen need to be informed – it is just common courtesy (and it improves your company’s employment brand considerably).  Don’t leave people hanging.

Onboarding the new hire needs to be well thought out.  What steps do you take?  Who is responsible for this step?  Do you have a check list so that nothing gets forgotten or assumed?

Part of hiring includes performance evaluation and it really helps if you compare what was accomplished to what you said you wanted to have accomplished.

Do you have a checklist for all these steps?  Do they vary depending on the level and function of the position you are trying to fill?

Do you advertise your open jobs on the radio?

Do you advertise your open jobs on the radio?
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Do you advertise your open jobs on the radio?

Do you advertise your open jobs on the radio?

Alternative recruiting techniques – Billboards

Have you ever used a billboard
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Have you ever used a billboard

8 Steps to Finding Your Next Hire Without a Recruiter

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 If your company wants to recruit without the help of a search firm, you will need a careful plan to find the right one to fit your open position because experts in your specific niche are probably not actively looking or posting their resumes on job boards.


English: Message in a bottle I found the bottl...

English: Message in a bottle I found the bottle at Benacre, it wished me well and has an email address, this had faded. Also a number but of Great Yarmouth Origin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  1. First you need to know exactly what the problem is that the company needs to solve.  What are the skills that the company does not have that are needed to solve the problem?  Or is it a matter of needing skills you do have but that person or people simply are already overbooked?  Put all this in a full position description. Identify all the variations of the possible title.
  2. Then decide where this person with these skills would work.  Which companies are the direct competitors of yours for this position?  Compile the list.
  3. Identify each person at each of these companies who has the title that you are looking for and those who report to that title and may be ready to move up. Get each email address and, if possible, direct phone number or mobile phone number. Compile this list.
  4. Prepare an email advertisement for the position which is written from the point of view of the person you wish to attract - what is the “sizzle” - the most attractive thing about the role?  This is not likely to be the size of the salary for PhDs, instead, it will be the scope of the job, the therapeutic area, the science, the challenge, the learning opportunity or possibility of career development.
  5. Email each one of the people you have identified, call each one, leaving voice mail if you don’t catch them in. For each one that you do not reach, send at least 1 more email and leave at least 2 more voice mails.
  6. For each not interested response you get, follow up to ask for referrals.
  7. For each interested person, follow up to pre-screen against the problem and skills needed.  Get his/her resume, current salary information and the answers to any pre-screening questions the hiring manager wants before a phone or face-to-face interview.
  8. Write up the information and attach the resume and forward to the hiring manager or select only the best and send only those in one batch.


If all this sounds like just too much, consider hiring an executive search service.  Hampton & Associates has been doing exactly these steps for many clients for the last 15 years.  We have been keeping on top of the new tools for each step and can usually find 3-6 qualified and interested candidates in 6-12 weeks.


Process min time max time comment
Speak with or email with Client about new search 0.25 2 get company, title, function, expectations of client
Set up 0.25 1.25 pull together all tools and records, establish files, email folders, list of useful tools and websites
receive or work with client on position description and candidate assignment questions 0.25 5 Get or work up a position description that will attract the right people, understand exactly what we are looking for and what the soft skills/personal attributes are that will make the right candidate
Work with client on potential target companies 0.25 2 Identify the companies that are particularly attractive to the client, see if this is a national or international search, see what companies are NOT wanted.  See if the client is open to other companies not on the list
Fill out Target list, website, email rubric, phone numbers for appropriate sites 1 10 May be in my database, but may need to be researched from the internet
Search my DB for people with the right title at the target list companies 1 5 Put together an Access Query that will pull these people out of the large lists
same for online DBs 5 20 this takes longer as the interface is not as simple.  Get these new names into my Access Database for simpler and faster access.
find and verify email addresses for each contact 1 10 Use company rubric, verify with online program
write up email blast and postings based on position description and questions in a “What is in it for the candidate” manner 0.5 3 Use what client offers, but this is advertising and must be attractive
send email blast 1 10 using best practices and perhaps mail merge
do postings 1 5 using the appropriate sites, free and fee
clean up bounced emails/review each for correct rubric or google for person at different company 0 10 receive the bounded emails.  Check online for each person to see if they have moved on and told us about it.  Use new company email if client allows other companies besides those on the target list
resend to new emails 1 5 may be sent one at a time or multiples
send position description through LinkedIn if no email is available 1 5 This only works if I’m linked to them
respond to emails from emailed candidates and postings 1 5 Thank them for replying, add referrals to database, answer questions, If they send a resume see below
find holes in target list 0.25 1 Review list of contacts vis a vis the target list.
assign name generation 0.5 3 If we have no one from particular companies on the target list, send the name of the company and the various phone numbers to the sourcer/name generator who is most familier with this industry and this function.  Also send  contract and position description and/or email blast so that they really understand who we are looking for
Discuss assignment with NG Asssociate 0.5 2 make sure that they understand what we need
time for name gen 1 40 It usually takes 1 hr/phone number or site to get the contacts names and titles – this can be as few as 1/hr or as many as the whole department in less than 15 minutes
Once complete list is together, clean up, record 1 5 pull together all names, titles, companies, contact information and response if any.  Remove those who have already responded from list for CD Associate
assign candidate development 0.5 2 Choose Candidate Development Associate who has the most experience with this industry and function and level.  Send list of contacts with phone numbers and whether they have been emailed or not. Send new contract, list of names, position description and Candidate Development Assignment/Questions.  Answer any initial questions from Associate
Discuss assignment with CD Asssociate 0.25 2 make sure that they understand what we need
call each candidate, leave up to 3 voicemail messages, track responses, resumes & referrals, (for referrals add, email and call) 20 60 We aim for talking with people and leaving voicemail so that 8 people/hr are touched.   If we get lucky and many people actually answer their phones, this could go down to 2-4.  If no one answers their phone, it could be that 20 voice mail messges can be left/hr (60/3 minutes/vm and recording the call)
respond to emails and calls from sub contractors in NG & CD 1 4 answer questions from sub contractors
respond to calls and emails from called candidates 0.5 5 answer questions, re-sell the role, get referrals, record all of this, follow up if they leave me messages.
Review, save and forward resumes to client 0.5 3 If they send a resume, it must be tracked, saved and reviewed
keep track of responses from CD 0.5 3 When the CD Associates sends a report it must be input into Access and collated with the information we already have
Review resumes, write notes 0.5 3 Read resumes against the position description, write up notes about the candidate
speak with or email reports to  Client 1 5 Keep Client up to date with the progress of the search.  Send reports of the whole search as well as sending the resumes as they come in and are reviewed.
Decide with Client when my part of the search is complete 0.25 2 If the Client has received enough good resumes and will be doing the interviewing from here, we put the search on “do not call” status and only respond to incoming emails and calls for a certain and agreed amount of time.
close the search, keeping track of all resumes received, hours, costs, etc. 1 2 In order to have easy access to all this information for the next search and to invoice appropriately, various housekeeping details must be taken care of
Invoice This is not included in the Client’s fee
44.75 245.25 Sometimes we get lucky and find the right people in a very short time, but it usually takes at least 45 hours.



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Do You have Time to Do the Recruiting Yourself?

Do you have time to do the recruiting yourself?
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Do you have time to do the recruiting yourself?

Do you have time to do the recruiting yourself?

The “New Normal” in Recruiting for the Life Sciences

Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Bureau of Labor StatisticsRecruiting is getting even more difficult

That would seem really counter-intuitive, right?

There is greater than 7% unemployment and we have so many more tools now – LinkedIn, the many job boards (Monster, BioSpace,  etc.), postings that get picked up by many boards and contingency recruiters.

So why would it be difficult to find the right people?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has the statistics for last month.  They lump pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals with all “chemical manufacturing.”

And the unemployment rate for this sector was 5% in May 2013.

This included individual contributors through senior management in all of the chemical manufacturing sector including packaging and fill machine operators.  There have been 5 mass layoff events and only 385 initial claims for unemployment benefits.

Not really that many.

And employment in our industry is expected to increase by 8% by 2020.  Demand is strong and will remain strong.

The Bureau says,

“Job prospects. Prospects should be favorable, particularly for life scientists with a doctoral degree. Unlike many other manufacturing industries, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is not highly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Even during periods of high unemployment, work is likely to be relatively stable in this industry, because consumption of medicine does not vary greatly with economic conditions. Additional openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other industries, retire, or leave the workforce for other reasons.”

On a more personal note, because of the economic turmoil, people are staying with their current companies.  Because of the housing market, many are very reluctant to try to sell their houses and move.

How is your method of finding the right people dealing with these realities?

Are your postings bringing in the right people or is the layer of “wrong” resumes getting deeper?

Is your employee referral program bringing in the people the hiring manager wants?

Can you bring yourself to call into your competitors to talk directly with the people who have the skills you need and hire them away?

Do you have time to sort through LinkedIn and then contact each promising looking person?

Do you have time to join the right LI groups or are you simply posting on their jobs board in hopes that the right person will see it?

What are you doing do deal with the “new normal”?


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Is your personal network up-to-date?

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Do you have a plan for maintaining your personal and career network?

This is not something that we are usually explicitly taught but is the thing that separates careers from a series of jobs.

A network really is just another way to say “the people you know”  or, better, “the people who know you”.  You may not need a job this week, but if you plan on a work life of at least 30 years, you will be looking for between 6 and 10 jobs in that time frame.  More than 75% of jobs are filled through personal networking and referrals.

Check out Hiring Winds Blowing toward Referrals and Networking by Jorgen Sundberg (written from the job seekers perspective).

The very best time to build a network is when you are not in panic-mode.  When you can give more than you ask for.  When you can be relaxed, competent, not needy and able to really listen to the other person.

Yes, you may be stressed at work right now.  You may feel that you have no time or energy to spend with new people or even your old friends, but it is not going to get better.  You will always be rushed if you are rushed now.  So how can you do all the things in your life that you know are going to be priorities at some point?

Systems.  How can you set up a system to identify, prioritize and maintain your career network?  What can you do in reasonable bites so that in 3 to 5 years you won’t be trying to build a network from scratch?

Give me a call if you would like to talk about it!
Please do let me know what you think about this and if you think I missed anything important!


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