For many years, proactive in-house recruitment efforts have been looked down upon in recruitment circles. The internal recruitment role within companies has been partially eclipsed by the work of dedicated recruitment consultants and agencies, exacerbated by the fact in-house HR teams have enough to do without having to seek out talent.
As a result, responsibility for recruiting new employees has for many years been split between internal recruitment, advertising and third-party recruitment agencies.
The problem with advertising is that it is something of a blunt instrument. Organisations will quite often not get enough applications from the high-quality talent they want and it can be a time-sapping experience going through piles of speculative applications. It is a process that has been likened to finding a needle in a haystack.
Using external recruitment agencies, meanwhile, is a huge cost that many businesses can ill afford – the effectiveness of such agencies is declining as is their ability to deliver volume in today’s competitive business environment.
It, therefore, seems clear that the time is right for companies to take another look at how they recruit. So how can they do this? The answer is simple: take the concept of the proactive recruitment desk, dust it off and bring it into the 21st century.
The first step in this process is to take responsibility for recruitment away from HR. This may seem counterintuitive to many but for me it is absolutely critical. Recruitment is a very different animal to core HR, combining as it does the disciplines of sales and assessment. To be effective, recruiters must have an excellent understanding of the business – in fact they must be every bit as much business professionals as HR professionals.
Of course, recruitment can only be split from HR with the complete buy-in of senior leadership. In part, this involves a recognition that getting the best people into the business can and does positively affect the bottom line; recruitment must, in short, be seen as mission-critical. The fact is that far too few businesses can currently claim this is the case.
The next step is to ensure the proactive recruitment desk has itself been staffed correctly. As I have said, recruitment requires people with two very distinct skills: the ability to sell a company and the ability to assess an individual. It is a mix of competencies most usually found in head-hunting agencies and businesses should look to hire people who have come from that background. The result is a team of dedicated in-house recruiters trusted with a single responsibility: to use their industry expertise and extensive social networks to identify the best possible candidates for the business and activate them.
There are two other important features to be considered in a modern proactive recruitment desk. Firstly, the recruitment desk should play no part in the interview process. With a sound understanding of their industry, the recruiter’s focus should be squarely on pre-selection, as good pre-selection is the best possible preparation for line managers and senior managers to then assess the candidates’ fitness. For me, a good pre-selection will ensure that not only do the best candidates get through, but also that managers are armed with the right questions to ask during interviews.
Secondly, the proactive recruitment desk must maintain its competitive edge. Recruitment is a results-based process and teams will perform most effectively if they compete against third party recruiters. Similarly, the pay structure for recruiters should model that of sales organisations, with a good 60/40 split between core pay and performance-related bonuses. This will encourage proactivity and service excellence from the recruitment desk.
In a former blog on the subject of recruitment, I discussed the need for modern electronic word-of-mouth marketing and the importance of building strong referral and candidate pools, supported by social capabilities in an integrated applicant tracking system. This is a vital component which should be built in to this new model for recruiting. With such an approach, we are no longer searching for a needle in a haystack but are, in effect, creating a haystack of needles.
That this new approach to recruiting is effective cannot be doubted: in fact we have adopted the model at Oracle for major recruitment drives in EMEA and APAC. The results are astonishing. Supported by a successful public relations effort in these regions to let people know we were recruiting, we managed to rapidly fill thousands of positions with just the right people. In fact, so successful was the approach that we now do almost all of our recruiting in-house.
If you would like to hear more about this transformative approach to recruiting then please come and see us at the Zukunft Personal in Cologne on 15th September. Our Vice President Recruiting EMEA und CEE, Anne-Marie O’Donnell, will be giving a talk on how Oracle went about overhauling its approach to recruiting and the huge benefits we are enjoying as a result.