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One in hand vs. Two in the Bush

I am sure we are all familiar with the old story/proverb of the value of having one of something vs. the potential of having two or more of the same “something.” In many countries this is known as A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush.  Essentially, the lesson learned is that having something in your grasp or in fact, something that is “yours” is far more valuable than the potential of having more things but with the risk of having to give up what you already have.

bird-in-handI have found this proverb to be very applicable to modern day recruiting and dealing with hiring managers. You see, at the end of the day, hiring managers are always looking at the value of two in the bush. Meaning, while they may have a candidate presented to them by you as the recruiter that meets a significant portion of the job requirements, many of them are always keeping an eye out for that other potential candidate that meets all of the requirements, requires no training, is a superstar, comes from an identical industry and doesn’t mind working 40 hours of overtime a week with no extra compensation. I am being a bit facetious here, but you get the point.

This is a constant struggle for recruiters – managing hiring managers – and the acceptance of a highly qualified candidate is probably at the top of the list. I know we have all felt the frustration of a hiring manager’s indecision. You source, recruit and present a great slate of candidates. The hiring manager interviews and is impressed, especially with one in particular and indicates to you that they would be a great hire, but…they want to wait “to see what else is out there.” WTH? It is at that point in time the recruiter snaps and wants to put the hiring manager in the rear naked choke hold .

How can recruiters avoid this scenario from happening? Well, the tough answer is that generally speaking, you can’t. Hiring managers often suffer from decision-making paralysis. They have been brought up thinking that there is a “right” hiring decision to be made and all other decisions are wrong. They have been led to believe there is a perfect candidate out there and they want to wait (for you) to find that candidate, because, well you know, they EXIST (yeah right).

How can you minimize this from happening? Well, this is the good news. You can control this a bit.   A lot of this occurs at the intake meeting. Make sure you get a hiring commitment up front from the hiring manager – this works best when it is in writing (can be as simple as an email). You want the hiring manager’s commitment/agreement on:

  1. Providing you with an accurate performance profile: what a person in the job needs to be able to do (this is different form a job description). The reason this is key is because if a hiring manager gives you a job description, it will simply be a laundry list of wishes of things they want in the perfect candidate. Don’t fall for this trap.
  2. Their availability – get a commitment up front as to when they will be interviewing for the role, because well, you WILL find them good candidates. If possible, schedule some dates in advance. This way, you can progress with your screening and your hiring manager has to review potential candidates efficiently as they already have interview times set up.
  3. Agree in writing as to what constitutes a good candidate vs. a great one and get commitment on hiring any “great” candidates. This should be done before the interview and scored immediately after the interview. That way, if a hiring manager agrees that a score of 4+ overall is a “great” score, anyone that scores a 4+ will be made an offer.

Point number 3 is a key one because you are getting the buy in before you meet candidates. This will help you avoid the scenario where you have a candidate interview, they get scored a 4.5, and the manager (despite loving the candidate) still defers and wants to see more candidates. You then need to ask the manager: “So, Bob, you agreed going into the interview process that anyone that scored a 4+ would be considered a GREAT candidate based on the performance profile. Therefore, we were looking for 4+’s during the selection process. We have found you a 4.5 – which is better than the 4+ considered to be great…why would we not be hiring this person? Has the selection criteria changed? Is a 4+ not great? Have the expectations/standards changed? What have we missed here?” It is at this point in time you have to remind them of one in hand vs. two in the bush. “Bob, we can certainly continue to source for you. It may take us another 2-6 weeks to present more candidates that may or may not be as good as this one. In the interim, it is highly likely you will lose the candidate you scored a 4.5. Are you willing to take that risk? This means your job will have been open for over 2.5 months? If you are willing to take the risk, we are willing to continue to source for you.”

Above all, you need to get the manager to understand that THEY were the ones who identified what they were looking for and what GREAT looked like. They have found GREAT and now GREAT is no longer GREAT. What has changed? At the end of the day, the pre-commitment approach will work with many managers. There are still others (who shouldn’t be managing or hiring) that will want to look at other candidates regardless. My advice, if you are an agency recruiter – work closest to the money. If you are in-house, you will need to focus on other clients reqs. if you have them. If you don’t, you still have to suck up the hit to your time to fill metric and soldier on…or move into HR. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Photo courtesy of Pezibear/Pixabay.com

The Little Golden Nuggets of Recruiting

As Talent Acquisition Specialists/Recruiters, we have many tools at our disposal to help us find the right candidate(s) for our client(s). Setting aside technology/social media, the greatest “tool” at our disposal is our ability to build relationships. That’s right, news flash, if you are in recruiting you are in the relationship building business. Great recruiters actively grow and cultivate their networks and actively work to maintain these relationships within those networks. Candidates want to work with recruiters that they know and trust. The only way you get there is by building relationships.

Golden NuggetNow at this stage, I know I am not telling you anything that you don’t know. In terms of tools and sourcing tactics, there are far more qualified folks out there that you can follow and read about that will provide you with a TON of great information. Folks like Glen Cathey, Will Staney, Lars SchmidtMatthew Jeffery, Stacy Zapar and Jeremy Roberts. These folks are recruiting rock stars. What I can tell you though, is what has worked for me. I have probably conducted hundreds, maybe thousands of recruiting campaigns in my career. By far, the single most effective tool at my disposal has always been employee referrals. Depending on what/where you read, referrals seem to be often either overhyped or undersold. In my opinion, there is no such thing as overhyping the effectiveness of referrals. Most people know that (your) talented employees know other talented employees. It has been my experience that talented people don’t just refer someone because they want to receive some sort of monetary referral bonus. No, they refer because talented people want to work with other talented people. If your employees are engaged in what they do and they believe in your talent brand, they will refer others.

The beauty of referrals is that it is like having 50, 100 or even 1000+ recruiters working for you. My first stop on any campaign is to leverage my internal networks. I make it a point to constantly be speaking with employees about current and upcoming hiring needs. That way, we can manage the (passive) referrals proactively and then the (active) referrals during an immediate campaign. You need to make it a point to get the word out to your employees about EXACTLY what it is you are looking for. You should be doing this for all levels of positions; however, typically the more difficult the skillset is to find, the more effective a focused referral campaign probably will be.

Case in point, we recently ran a campaign out on the west coast of Canada for a very unique skill set. We knew that typical sourcing and recruiting tactics would not give us enough reach and access to the types of candidates we needed to be speaking with. Our first step was to get out in front of staff. We spent days spreading the word across our offices about the type of person (knowledge, skills, ability, performance profile) that we were looking for. We also honed in on our employees whose backgrounds were most similar to the type of individual we were looking for. (Thank you HRIS!) By knowing our employees’ backgrounds as well as being able to identify our best performers, we were able to leverage this referral/recruiting campaign with a great deal of success. The end result was that we were able to hire the majority of the individuals through referrals – no other recruiting costs involved. This couldn’t have been done just using LinkedIn ads/searches, internet searching, etc.

So, to come full circle, as I mentioned earlier, recruiting is about building relationships. However, these relationships are not always externally facing. You must look inside your organization at your current employees. Build these relationships and continue to nurture and foster them. Better internal relationships mean better referrals for you the recruiter! As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Les Haines/Flickr.com

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