I was recently rewatching the movie “Moneyball” and this movie often makes me think and rethink about the way we recruit.
If you need a quick refresher, it comes down to the Oakland A’s had their best players hired away for more money than they could afford. So big teams with big budgets would hire the best players. Small teams with small budgets would have their best hired away.
The problem was that everyone was looking for the same thing – A players and Stars – often using the same (industry accepted) subjective wisdom and outdated (sometimes flawed) metrics of comparison. They all had to fit certain molds. Instead of playing this game (and losing), because the A’s couldn’t afford to compete, they pursued the misfits and the players that were undervalued because of industry biases and preconceptions.
Most companies I have recruited for are in a similar situation. They want the A players and Stars…and often can not compete with the salaries being offered by other teams.
Then you combine this “raising the bar.” I keep hearing about hiring managers trying to raise the bar on their teams. They don’t want to just bring in people as good as they ones they have…they want people who are better than what they have (or are trying to replace) to raise the bar on their talent.
Often this comes with the same salary figure as the others or the one being replaced. So they want bigger players and bigger stars but not pay any more than currently paying. Does this make any sense at all?
As recruiters, we are tasked with finding the solution. The budgets are not going to be increased. They may not be open to telecommuting or relocation so the pool can be expanded. So what are our options?
After watching “Moneyball” again, I am thinking we might have to work with hiring managers to redefine what they are looking for in order to raise the bar. Firstly, raising the bar must be defined and what is trying to be accomplished.
Peter Brand said in the movie,
There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams…Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.
I see the same thing happen in recruiting. Hiring managers think in terms of hiring employees. The goal shouldn’t be to hire employees, the goal should be to buy the skills necessary to fulfill the goals in mind. Don’t hire stronger employees in order to raise the bar, but stronger skills (to get more runs) necessary to accomplish goals and win the game at the next level.
So to buy wins…you need to buy runs. What are the runs we are trying to buy in the talent we are seeking for our positions? And if we are trying to raise the bar, this question becomes even more important. If you are trying to improve your performance (game) as a team, then to get to that next level of play as a team…what skills (to get runs) would be needed?
Perhaps, getting someone with more experience or broader experience is not what is needed. Maybe it is a bit of specialized skills and experience that the rest of the department lacks.
I often see hiring managers say they want to raise the bar only to then demand candidates with more experience or broader experience…but this does not necessarily equate with “buying wins and buying runs.” It tends to show the focus is on buying a bigger player. This could be an instance of asking the wrong questions. The question is not how do I get a stronger, more experience all-around player…but what do I specifically need to get more “runs.”
Let’s go back to misfits and undervalued players because of misconceptions and preconceptions. I believe there is a gold mine here. Potential employees that are having a difficult time getting hired or paid well because they are lacking something or are a misfit because they do not fit the mold of typical.
Perhaps, a potential goldmine of customer service talent would be to hire very good waiters and waitresses from restaurants. I have had a few spectacular servers wait on me at very typical restaurants. I would think they might do very well in any position requiring attention to detail and focus on customers (and their needs). Sure, they never have worked in customer service like you may be hiring…but they know how to take care of people.
We need to think outside the box here. Who does not fit the mold of typical people in the field, but may excel in it because they have the skills needed where it is important (for runs)?
I once worked for a company where all our buyers/clothing designers came from the same couple colleges, with the same degree, and basically the same skills. I hired a college graduate (Art History major) that loved clothes and worked in retail sales in a clothing store. I got her in initially as a “gofer” to the buyers. She soon was promoted to junior buyer and then buyer. Managers told me she was one of the best people they have ever hired. She did not have the background everyone else had and yet she excelled. Under “normal” circumstances, she would not have been considered.
We need to rethink who we are hiring and why…especially if we want to raise the bar.
Last Thursday I went to the Military and Veteran Job Fair at Target Field (downtown Minneapolis, MN). It was put together as a pre-event by the Medal of Honor Convention Twin Cities. The morning started with an Employer Town Hall. Two veterans who had successfully transitioned into the corporate world spoke to us about recruiting and retaining military and veterans.
Surprisingly, their focus was initially more on retaining than recruiting. They said it is not uncommon to see military and veteran hires leave after 9 months, a year, and so forth. They said much more focus is needed on retaining them.
They said you have to remember they are used to being given defined paths in the military. You study this and do that and then you can get promoted or are assigned to this other task. Also, during duty they are given missions to complete. Everything has goals in mind and outcomes that come afterward.
They mentioned that often moving into corporate is difficult if there is no defined career paths and vague goals to be accomplished. They want goals that challenge them and they can accomplish. So if they get bored…or they see no way to progress in the career (no defined next step)…or are not really sure what they are trying to accomplish…they quickly become unhappy and leave.
They need to feel needed and have a purpose…and be challenged (the challenge was mentioned repeatedly).
To help with this transition, they said it was very necessary to pair a new hire from the military with someone who used to be with the military that successfully transitioned. The more senior is familiar with the challenges in transitioning and the differences between military and corporate thinking.
One of them told a story about how after he transitioned he had an incident in a meeting. It was a long meeting about financials and such and he was listening but bored. So after finishing his bottle of water, he took a bit of chew and started spitting into the bottle. Later he was told that is something you can’t do. But he did not know…in the military, meetings had this kind of thing happen and no one batted an eye about it. He was still running under a different set of ideas and it just didn’t occur to him that this was not allowed.
The other one agreed and said due to the different circumstances of military life, sometimes one’s manner and speech might be a bit rough…but that is what they are used to. Once someone mentors or coaches them on the expectations and rules, there is no problem.
They cautioned us (roomful of recruiters) that we may hear or see some interesting things during the fair. They said to just speak with them and get their stories. They assured us we would meet many great potential employees with great leadership skills…although they may not have the perfect resume or polish.
They said that we had to be willing to take a chance on someone, because they will not have the perfect resume or appear as polished as other candidates. They often have gained a whole lot of skills (leadership, getting this done, etc.) but don’t always know how to convey it well within the resume.
They said it was important to earn their trust, but once you have it they are the most loyal people around. You need to give them a little extra help. Give them an email or phone number to call when they have questions or issues…speaking with another military or veteran who transitioned into your company. Listen to them. Ask questions. Don’t assume.
One of the recruiters shared a great story about how when their security guard (who was in the military) was called up to be deployed, she asked him for his mailing address. While he was gone, she and others at the company sent him letters. So many in the military are deployed and receive little or no contact while abroad. She said it probably meant a lot to him…and the two vets speaking agreed and said that was spectacular. They said that kind of support is what will keep a military or veteran with the company.
Anyway, that is how the morning started. I spoke with several great people during the day. It was a good day.
I won’t be talking about usability, time needed to complete the application, or many other very important topics. Today I want to focus on a specific test. A test I think that should be done routinely and regularly.
Either a recruiter from a different area, the Recruiting Manager, or even someone in HR should ask for the resumes of some of top performers that work in the area that is hiring and apply on their behalf. Use a pseudonym and a different phone number and email address. You don’t want to make it too obvious. I would also include resumes of the average (but solid) performers you want to keep. If this is a replacement position, I may include the resume of the person being replaced.
Basically, the test would be to see if the people the hiring manager already has on staff (that he or she really wants to keep) would make it to the interview. Because if the people the hiring manager already has on staff (and thinks they are great) can’t make it to an interview…what is the likelihood of increasing the staff with more great people? Obviously these people should be called for an interview.
If they don’t make it to the interview stage, this would show a failure in the requirements, pre-screening questions, or other element of the application process.
Also, this would show (if passed with flying colors) that there is a correlation between what is being asked for in the application process and the top performers and/or solid employees on staff.
I see this as something that will become more important in the future…scientific-like repeatability and being able to show a correlation between what we do in recruiting and how it does in fact bring in top performers and solid employees.
The way to move towards this is to test and audit what we do in recruiting more frequently (or start, if you don’t test currently).
We can start with simply the application process, but we could test and audit the entire hiring process. Do the interview questions we ask really select better talent and therefore screen out low-performers?
If we have employment tests for potential hires, the government wants to know if they are valid tests (accurately gauging better talent) that are not accidentally screening out or pushing away women, minorities, older workers, etc. I have read many, many articles over the years of how many employment tests are not valid and open companies up to discrimination law suits or government audit of employment practices.
By extension, the questions we ask interviewees should be valid and not discriminate. There are even questions the government specifically says are not legal to ask. And yet, we still do not do much to test for validity of those questions to screen out all but the best talent.
We hear in articles that hiring practices and typical interview questions are no better than a coin-toss. Why? Because we do not test it.
One way to test your interview questions is to ask top performers and solid employees in that function the questions. How do the answers compare with applicants for the job? Maybe do a blind test and have the employee do the phone screen with the recruiter and then debrief the recruiter on what they thought and why.
I am trying to take my original point through all the hiring steps. If the currently employed top performers can’t make it through the process, how valid is the process? How could you hire other top performers if the current top performers would be screened out?
I think more testing and auditing needs to happen in recruiting (on ourselves and by ourselves), because we really don’t know what works and why it works. We don’t bother to test it and determine the factors. We have very little in terms of feedback loops to tell us what is working (and how well it is working) and what is not working.
Is it any wonder why research keeps saying what we are doing is a shot in the dark, no better than a coin toss, or other analogy? To make recruiting systematic requires not only processes, but processes with feedback loops (for quality) and processes that should be tested (for validity, for improvement, etc.). Otherwise, it is just a shot in the dark…a coin toss.
How many times have you heard one of the following statements from hiring managers?
- “I want top performers.”
- “I want to hire a star.”
- “I am looking for an A-player.”
And then very shortly later hearing something along the lines of the following:
- “I am looking for someone who has been there and done that.”
- “I need someone who can hit the ground running.”
- “this candidate hasn’t been in this kind of position before.”
It seems few are willing to point out that these are two mutually exclusive statements. Allowing hiring managers to continue thinking these are not conflicting statements is the cause of problems in recruiting that which they seek.
In the off-chance that you think these statements are not in conflict, let us analyze what the statements are saying.
Wanting someone who has been there and done that, someone who can hit the ground running, and basically been in that kind of position before doing exactly what the hiring manager is looking to have done…is looking for someone willing and happy to continue to do what they have been doing (and already mastered).
On the other hand, the top performer/star/A-player is probably looking for a promotion or basically get into a position to learn new skills. They are looking for job stretch and job growth. They are probably looking because they are bored in their current roles because they have mastered the position already and the related skills. They are looking for new challenges and to do things they have not done before.
In fact, if hiring managers can not understand this, they are probably not a top performer/star/A-player themselves…and therefore there is another obstacle to hiring top performers/stars/A-players. Because top performers/stars/A-players want to work for other top performers/stars/A-players.
The mind set of a top performer/star/A-player is different that those who are not. Their needs must be met – usually the challenge and learning – or they are not happy and become disengaged. They don’t want to do exactly what they have been doing.
But I see repeatedly…in many different kinds of companies…the same mistake of treating top performers/stars/A-players the same as everyone else and not really bothering to care about their needs. Instead, hiring managers continue to look for the peg that fits perfectly into their hole on their team…with little thought that if it is too good a fit for the candidate’s past experience, a top performer/star/A-player would not be interested because he or she would be bored.
If you want to hire top performers/stars/A-players, then you need room for this person to grow (i.e. they won’t have all the experience already) and therefore you must be willing to take chances on people.
I have been seeing hiring managers take less and less risks. This is fueling the trend for asking for people who have “been there and done that.” It is causing hiring managers to not want to consider someone without all the skills upfront. They don’t want to trust that the candidate can learn it quickly on their own or might be able to handle it without having done it before.
Don’t you see how this closes the door to top performers/stars/A-players who are looking for new challenges rather than continuing in a job they have mastered already?
If your company declares that they want the best talent…that they want top performers/stars/A-players…then fundamentally that means we need to take chances on our hires and we need to consider hiring people who don’t have it all already. Maybe they haven’t exactly done the job before or had some of those responsibilities, but that is why they are interested.
All through my careers as a recruiter, I have continued to hear people say they want the top talent…but we are moving further and further away from the practices and hiring philosophy that would allow us to attract and hire the top talent.
If we really want to hire top performers/stars/A-players, then we have to see how top performers/stars/A-players are different than most other applicants. They are looking to do something different, not get another position doing what they have been doing. We have to accept the risk associated with hiring candidates that have not been there and done that yet.
As recruiters, we have all used Google or Bing to X-Ray LinkedIn. For those who may not know, X-Raying is using a search engine to do Boolean searches on pages on a specific site. For example, searching on LinkedIn for profiles in the Twin Cities for specific skill-sets. I do this enough that I wrote a couple recruiting bookmarklets…using Google or Bing to X-Ray LinkedIn.
Quick Terminology and Acronym Searches
If you are new to IT recruiting (for example) there are a lot of terms and acronyms. The same for medical recruiting as well. For ease, I created a two bookmarklets to search for IT terms and one for medical terms.
Miscellaneous Recruiting Bookmarklets
The sixth recruiting bookmarklet I created was for searching a section of LinkedIn that will give you some information and insights. When you click the bookmarklets and it asks for search term, you can enter “java” (for example). Then I like checking “Where they work” and “What they’re skilled at”. Under “What they’re skilled at”, you can select one other skill from the list and it seems to act as an AND statement (lowering the result numbers). But if you add more than one skill by clicking, it will increase the number of results (so it acts like OR statements among the clicked skills). You can also click on the spyglass next to “Where they live” and add locations and see how the insights change. This may give you an idea of what companies to recruit from and perhaps related skills these people may have. You could even search universities and see where people with a certain skill go for work and further refine the search by what years they attended college (to simulate a rough age grouping). Kind of a neat tool I just started playing with.
I am also including a bookmarklet that I once found called “highlight.” You know how sometimes it is really hard to find terms on a web page? Granted, you could hit Control-F and you could do a search. Many browsers let you highlight the occurrences. But what if you wanted to highlight more than one term? This bookmarklet will highlight more each time you use it. The highlighting will stay until you reload the web page.
How to Get Them In Your Browser and Use Them
To get these on your browser, please SAVE and then IMPORT the following HTML file into your browser – Bookmarklets.html
Alternatively, click into the above file and drag each of the recruiting bookmarklets into your bookmarks toolbar.
All seven of the recruiting bookmarklets will work by highlighting a term or terms on the web page you are on and then clicking the bookmarklet. If no terms are selected, the bookmarklet will open a box asking for the terms you want.
For the dictionaries, enter a single term like “python” or “BSN” or whatever you wanted to look up.
For the LinkedIn X-Rays, you can enter multiple keywords and full Boolean search strings. I also created them for my area (Twin Cities) and entering “Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area” is a pain, so I made that the default.
For the LinkedIn research tool, I suggest entering only one keyword.
My first article appeared on ERE today as “The Employee-referral Opportunity You May Be Missing.” Below is an except, but you can click the link to see the whole article on ERE.
In many companies, once the recruiter makes the hires and perhaps onboards them, the recruiter is no longer involved in the new employees’ time at the company.
This is a mistake and a missed opportunity.
Let’s say you are the sole IT recruiter in your company. You should know who all the top performers are within the IT department. Get updates, at least on an annual basis from managers. This would be regardless of whether the hiring manager has or will be hiring for the year. Think of it as an annual touch-base with the hiring managers; at the least, you will remind them who you are.
The reason for this is because you want to speak with all the top performers and ask them for referrals.
I have worked in a few different corporate recruiting departments over the years. They almost always had an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). They never had a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). Then I went to UnitedHealth Group. They have both an ATS and CRM for recruiters to use.
“Why”, I thought. Due to compliance with EEOC and OFCCP, we separate the applications from the prospects. The ATS tracks applicants to specific positions and audited. We had a CRM to track people we were speaking with and usually have not yet applied to a position.
I found it very helpful to have the applicants to specific positions in one location and prospects in another location. ATS are not usually built to be a very good CRM in addition to an ATS. Likewise, most CRM are not really built to be an ATS.
In an ATS, we need to know who applied to which jobs and where they are in the process. Usually, the ATS integrates with the company’s job site, so applicants attach their resumes and apply. Most corporate recruiters know why they need an ATS…but why a CRM as well?
The biggest value of a CRM is to keep track of all the communications with potential applicants. We need to know who has spoken with them last and when. That way several recruiters do not contact the same candidate about the same job. Doing so makes your company look unorganized. Doing so makes your company look like you are just spamming people.
Resumes files become less useful as years pass and the file ages. So it is important that the CRM have a link to the LinkedIn profile. Then with one click you can see where he or she is at now.
Another field to have is “Motivations.” Recruiters should always ask people they speak with why they are considering leaving their companies, what is missing, what are they looking for, etc. Knowing this information will make it easier to market positions to them later. Knowing this will help figure out if your company is even a very good fit for them. Also, it is good to see if the motivations change over time and in what way. The CRM would be the central place to record such information.
If you hire a lot of consultants, enter a date field for when the candidate’s current contract ends. Then you can try to hire them a month or so before their current engagement ends. This field could also function as a field for date of availability for other prospects.
If the CRM does not have file attachments with indexing capability (for later searching of the content of the resume files), you will need a field to enter some of the skills and keywords needed to find them later in a search. A separate field for highest level of education might also be helpful when searching later. Having a drop down select field for function and sub-function might also help. For example, IT and programmers.
Fields for where they are willing to work, how far they will commute, will they relocate (with or without assistance), and how much are they willing to travel will help…but how this is set up will depend on your business and the CRM’s capabilities.
You may want a field for work authorization. It helps if you work with a lot of visa transfers, or not at all.
The CRM would have fields to enter a phone number and email. The CRM likely has email marketing capabilities so you can send emails in mass (if you wish). I don’t recommend it under most circumstances. The CRM would also track those who opt out of future emails.
The CRM could integrate with the company’s website to create an opt-in Talent Network. The communications would be different than job alerts that an ATS could provide. Also, you ask them to enter the minimum information needed to find them in a search later. You don’t ask for all the information needed for an application.
You could have a salary range field and date of last update of this information. Do not search compensation information too much. Salary information changes over time and circumstances. If a couple years passed since you last saw the record, the salary might be very different than what the record shows.
What information should be in a CRM? It comes down to knowing what information you need to know in 80% of your searches of the database. Information that is more likely to change has less long-term value. You will not see some records from one year to the next. Keep that in mind. Also, don’t try to capture obscure information for rare searches.
A CRM would be misused if you want all the information at your finger tips. You only need enough to make a qualified phone call to the candidate. Follow the 80/20 rule. Enter only the 20% of the information that you need 80% of the time. The longer it takes to fill out the record, the less that will be filled out and the more inconsistent the entries will become.
Whatever fields that you do create, a policy must state to completely fill out the record every time…whether creating a new recording or updating one. If the information is not there, it will not show up in future searches…it is that simple. The fields are only as good as the data that is entered. Data integrity is key.
Someone must periodically audit new and updated entries. Verify that recruiters and sourcers fill out the records completely, correctly, and consistently. Again, keep how much information must be entered to an absolute minimum (per above 80/20 rule).
Finally, investigate and compare CRMs. Fee based ones like SalesForce exist, as well as free OpenSource ones like SugarCRM or vTiger. Investigate the functionality meets your needs before implementation. However, it can be very inexpensive to implement a CRM within your recruiting department and the value is impressive.
When I was recruiting Epic Consultants a few years ago, I managed to build within a few short months a database of hundreds of consultants. After speaking with them, I knew when their contracts were ending. I had alerts scheduled to tell me when to call them before their contracts ended. As a result, I hired a lot of consultants over the year. It would be very difficult to do this with the ATS I was using. Sure, I could have put alerts in my calendar to do the same. However, when the group expanded to four recruiters, the rest of the team could also see the entries. They knew which candidates I was speaking with and had existing relationships with. It kept the communications straight and from multiple recruiters calling the same candidate for the same opportunities within our company.
So if you are a corporate recruiter with only an ATS, I suggest looking into CRMs for your sourcing activities.
There are a lot of small companies and small recruiting firms out there trying to recruit talent, but don’t have the resources or money for expensive applications. I know that often the challenge is to get by with very little.
However, one of the most valuable assets for a recruiting function is the resumes we have on file (our resume archive). These resumes might be from applicants to specific jobs or just people who have been sourced by the recruiter. We get these resumes from job boards, Google searches, Scribd, other sites online, or from the job seekers directly.
I once worked at a recruiting firm where each recruiter had resumes on each of their own computers (so the files were not really shared) and there really was no way of searching through them to find particular skills. They had gotten creative with the file names, so you could tell which ones were Java developers or .Net developers or Oracle DBAs and such. I worked out a solution for them back then, but today I wanted to share with you my new solution to similar situations.
You need to create a resume archive. This is a central place for all the resumes to go, so that everyone in the office will have access to the resumes. Also, I think the best place for them is online…so that people can search from home/remotely or on smart phones/tablets.
If you are interested in this, I suggest you create a Google email account for your company…and activate a Google Drive account for that email. The Google Drive account as 15 GB storage, but can go to 100 GB for a very small fee ($1.99/month as of today). My old 3 page resume is 50K, so 100 GB will store about 2 million such resumes.
Once you have a Google Drive account, you will need to install the Google Drive application on each computer in the office. That way you can quickly and easily upload resumes into the account. Here is how…
- Install the application on your computer.
- On your computer, you’ll see a folder called “Google Drive”.
- Drag files or folders into that folder. They will upload to Drive and you will see them on drive.google.com.
You can upload Word Docs, Open Office Docs, PDFs, RTFs, TXT, etc….most formats are accepted. It may take a while for the files to be index and therefore searchable (in the top search bar labeled “Search Drive” in Google Drive), but I find files are usually available in searches within a few hours.
If you install the Google Drive app on your smart phone or tablet, you can take a picture of a resume with the camera and it will store it instantly as a PDF.
Once the documents have been indexed (automatically) by Google Drive, you can then use full Boolean to search the content of the files. Each person in the office may sign into the Google Drive account and conduct searches. As everyone is using the same email account and log in, some of the advanced searches are of no use and I will not mention them. Below are the advanced search options that may be of interest:
|“search term “||Exact words within the quote marks||“project manager” Document name or contents include the exact term project manager
|OR||Files that include at least one of the words||developer OR programmer Document name or contents include one of developer or programmer|
|AND||Files that include both of the words||java AND web Document name or contents include both java and web|
|–||Does not include, can be used in front of any operator to search for the negative i.e. is not a folder would be -type:folder||-sales -type:folder Document name or contents do not include the term sales and search will ignore folders|
|is:starred||Items marked with a star||is:starred Files that have been starred.|
|type:||Search for document types – document, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, image, video, pdf||type:pdf Finds all pdf files|
|before:YYYY-MM-DD after:YYYY-MM-DD||Files modified before and/or after the entered date – ie search between a set of dates||before:2012-10-12 after:2012-10-08 Files modified between the 8th and 12th October 2012|
|title:||Search by title of the file or document (combine with ” ” to perform exact title search)||title:”project manager” Files with the title including the exact phrase project manager|
I believe this is the least expensive and simplest way to make all the resumes the recruiting team accumulates shared and searchable in a centralized resume archive. You can start with 15 GB of free space, which will hold 300,000 resumes (averaging 50K each) and it is inexpensive to get more space (if needed).
I know we all have a job to do…for recruiters it is finding people for our open positions. I know it is not an easy job to do at times, but we need to do it in such a way as not shame our companies.
For example, before you reach out to a potential candidate by email or phone…do you at least review his or her resume or LinkedIn profile? I would think this is common sense, but I got a call this week for a JD Edwards position. I asked the recruiter why he thought I was qualified for the role…and he laughed and then admitted that he has not seen my resume. His sourcing department sends him names and numbers for him to call. I said he might want to speak with them as I am an IT recruiter who has recruited for JD Edwards, but I wouldn’t be qualified for the role. With egg on his face, he thanked me and said he will follow up with them. This is just another form of spam. I have never heard of his firm before, but already I have no respect for them and would prefer not to hear from them again.
Another example of this is an email I received from a recruiter last week that said, “I am excited to inform you that your background meets our current criteria for the position that you recently applied for” and gave me several times to pick for an in-person interview. Guess what…I never applied to any such position. Also, it was from a company I had never heard of before until their email. In the attempt to get a call back, they lied and hoped I would not care about the lie. If you are going to say something like this, you better actually see the application in your tracking system and perhaps even mention the date of application. If you tell potential candidates this and they know they have not applied…do you really think they will call back? You sound like sort of scam. Nothing like starting a relationship with mistrust.
Also last week, I had a recruiter email me about a Senior Recruiting position via LinkedIn. But all he said was, “My name is XXXXXX and I am a recruiter at XXXXXXX, this is in regard to a job opportunity with our major banking client, would you be interested in it?” Really? Where is the position located (is it even in Minnesota)? Is this position contract or full-time? Obviously more information would be needed for me to determine if I might be interested. Why do I have to guess or reply just to find out? It would take a few more words to say 4 month contract with a client in St. Paul. As recruiters, we need to anticipate the questions and objections, and answer them before they are brought up. By just saying “I have an opportunity…are you interested”…with no details, how would you get any passive job seeker to reply? How does this compel them to respond? You would only attract desperate job seekers with such an email. Don’t they know this is spam?
I had recently been speaking with a candidate about his experiences with various companies. He related a story and asked my advice. He said he was called about a Project Manager role in Minnesota. The recruiter called and told him a bit about the role and responsibilities…and it sounded interesting. He knows that “project manager” is a somewhat abused term and that salaries for project managers are across the board. So towards the end of the discussion, being it was not yet mentioned, he just asked…”this sounds great, but could you let me know what kind of salary range you have.” The recruiter then replied, “well, we are looking for someone who is interested in right position and not focused on the money.” He said that he understood that and to make things move quicker he told her his current salary. She immediately said, “we can’t pay nearly that high.” This is all too common in recruiting, but think about it for a minute. Are we so naive to think that salary should have no bearing in whether someone is interested or not in an opportunity?
Obviously, this person knew that salaries in his field varied a lot…and he figured he was on the upper side of it currently…so would it not be unreasonable or illogical to ask the question “can you afford me?” I don’t care how much you say your position is great…it will not make someone work for 1/2 of his or her current salary. Why be so coy? Asking what is the salary range doesn’t even mean they are looking for the money more than the opportunity. It could just mean time is valuable and he or she does not want to waste your or his/her time on a position that really is not in the same ballpark. Again, as recruiters, we need to anticipate the questions and objections, and answer them before they are brought up.
As recruiters, do we not realize that doing things like the above make us and our companies look bad. It gives a very poor candidate experience. We are shaming our companies with these practices. Who wants to work for such companies? I don’t.
I thought I would talk about a conversation I recently had with a hiring manager (that I had never worked with before) during our initial intake meeting/discovery call…more specifically the research before that call. What I knew ahead of time (from the initial job description sent) is that this would be a Java developer role and the minimum requirements showed a long list that included the following:
- and a half dozen other items
Also, the position has to office from Boston, MA. So I knew that if these were all requirements, we would have absolutely no one to show the hiring manager. It is just too much. But just saying so would not have the impact I was looking for, so I did some research on LinkedIn.
When I selected a people search and entered “java” as a keyword and selected Boston as the location, I saw that there are 62,921 profiles on LinkedIn meeting these search parameters.
Now if I added “Hadoop” to the search, so it said “java hadoop” in the search bar and again selected Boston as the location, there were 3,038 profiles with the keywords java AND hadoop. When you add terms in a string, LinkedIn will read it as “AND” operators between the terms.
For each additional keyword I will show you what the number of results were for the other terms when added one at a time:
+ hive – 810
+ pig – 428
+ hbase – 240
+ etl – 76
+ json – 15
+ rest – 8 (and one was actually a recruiter)
Any technical recruiter knows that java professionals are hard to come by these days and many have a H1B…but the pool of about 62,921 in Boston goes down to 8 with only half of the requirements listed in the req I received (and we didn’t even mention number of years experience or anything).
Of course, there are probably a few more java professionals in existence…as some studies show that 20% of IT pros are not on LinkedIn. These LinkedIn results can be seen as a sample of most of the population, however.
From this position of power through information, I was able to then have a good initial conversation with the hiring manager. Instead of just saying that there were too many requirements or that few would meet these requirements, I was able to show what the numbers were.
I could show her these results and I did a few other searches on the fly (ad hoc to account for adding or removing certain parameters). In the end, she was convinced to make most of these parameters preferences and not part of the minimum requirements for the position.
We were able to talk about training and what had to be known on day one and what could be picked up along the way. She was startled by how quickly the pool shrank with each keyword and became more open to other possibilities.
This is so effective because it tangibly established me as an expert that knew the numbers and could share the numbers were her. We know that as recruiters we are the experts in hiring and the candidate pools, salaries, etc. But, many hiring managers do not see us as experts. Numbers are respected and being someone with all the numbers puts you in a good position of being seen as an expert.
This also helps the conversation in terms of what might not be the right keywords or terms. I have since had hiring managers ask for skill-sets…that when I looked on LinkedIn…showed only double digit numbers of profiles on LinkedIn for that office location. One term alone should not kill the candidate pool so readily, so it might not be the right term to use.
Also, as you look at the top few profiles…you might see other technologies or skills listed and you could ask your hiring managers if these are used as well and might be good preferences. Again, knowing this before the initial call to discuss the new req will put you in “expert” status. It shows you know something about what they are doing.
You might see that most of the profiles you see are all coming from one or two companies in the area (besides your own). And this can be used to fuel the conversation of where to find these candidates. You can say you know that X and Y have a lot of these kinds of people, so would these be good places to recruit from…and what other companies might be good places to look at.
I suggest trying this the next time you are preparing for a call with the hiring manager about a new job you received. You may be surprised at how well it works in getting your hiring managers to consider what skills they are requiring.
Also check out my older article, “How to Compare the Size of Talent Pools by Location“…which is the same basic searching on LinkedIn, but using the data in a different way.