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The People Tree

If only the people tree existed. If it did, our lives as recruiters, HR Professionals and managers would be so much easier. In fact, if such a tree did exist, we probably wouldn’t even need recruiters anymore. Quick side bar – for those of you that aren’t familiar with this mythical plant, the people tree is believed to be located behind many organizations. On its branches are many qualified, capable and available candidates for any of the organization’s openings. Due to its believed existence, managers will often come to recruiters or HR and expect that they readily pluck someone from this tree on a moment’s notice to fulfill whatever vacancy currently exists in their department.

All cynicism aside, the people tree does exist as a metaphor for the fact that in many companies, hiring managers do believe that they can come to recruiters/HR on short notice and expect that they are able to have someone hired and in place in a couple of weeks. I have seen this scenario play out time and time again in companies. At the end of the day, it causes widespread frustration with the recruiting/HR staff as well as the actual hiring manager. So how do we work around the fact that such a tree does not exist? I believe the answer is a combination of education and communication. That is, it is incumbent on recruiters to clearly outline for managers, in advance of a hiring request, how the recruiting process works and what the anticipated timelines are in order to provide them with qualified, competent candidates. (This is the key part – qualified and competent).

TreeWorld class organizations have clearly documented recruiting processes that outline the steps in the process and have service level agreements in place to identify anticipated timelines during each stage of a recruiting campaign. These processes and SLA’s outline all steps from requisition to actual candidate start date, how the recruiting process works and who/what each party is responsible and accountable for doing. These SLA’s indicate that the recruiting and hiring process is jointly owned by both the recruiter and the hiring manager.

In the absence of any formal processes or SLA’s, I would suggest the following plan of attack in order to keep open communication going with hiring managers so as to improve your hiring and come to a joint understanding of timelines:

1. Report proactively to your hiring managers on the industry or sector trends for the positions you hire regularly for. If you know your company hires 75% of the time for Java programmers, you should be reporting to managers on what the current labour situation is like in terms of availability for these types of resources. Think of this as sowing the seeds of success.

2. If you don’t currently do this, you should be working together with the hiring managers on a formal workforce plan. This can then become a base plan of attack for hiring which would support pipelining activities and proactive sourcing/candidate presentation – thus alleviating the panic attack approach of needing to hire on short notice. In other words, proactively build your slate of candidates and present them to hiring managers outside of current requisitions in play. You can then identify for the manager how long to took to source this person and what their current availability is like.

3. When there is a hiring requirement, you should immediately meet with the hiring manager to solicit as much information as possible about the role, requirements, etc. Obtain agreement on the way ahead in terms of the types of candidates they would like to see and clearly outline how long the anticipated process will take in terms of posting, screening, interviewing, references, etc. The manager will need to understand what their role is in the recruiting process. That is, they need to be available to conduct interviews AND they need to make decisions on candidates in a timely manner. If they are able to agree to this with you, then you should be agreeing to be able to deliver candidates for them. (Assuming again we aren’t chasing after purple squirrels.)

4. If you still face challenges on managers wanting candidates found in hours, days or a couple of weeks or if you get the “bums in seats” speech, work together with HR to identify and quantify the need to provide a quality hire up front instead of dealing with the cost of turnover down the road. We all know the stats, so show the hiring managers what “waiting” might get them vs. shot gunning someone into the seat will.

At the end of the day, it is incumbent on all of us as recruiters/HR pros to move away from the role of order taker and educate our operations clients on what it takes to provide them with a quality hire. If we can all work together to do this, we may end up getting rid of the story of the mythical people tree once and for all because just like the Easter Bunny, it doesn’t exist!

Image courtesy of Idea go/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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