Change can be a scary thing. In our modern world we have the ability to effect and control things that would have seemed like science fiction not that long ago, but two things we have yet to figure out how to control are time and change. They happen whether we want them to or not. Whether it be the seasons, our age, technology, or tradition. Look out the closest window from where you’re reading this; it’s happening right now. Most of us fail to notice daily change and even less find the time to think about the big picture. Tasked daily with the duty to fulfill the needs and requirements of our jobs and busy lives outside of work it’s easy to forget to stop and think about change in the context of the big picture. There’s mortgages, kids, education, retirement, and (hopefully) a little vacation and social activity to worry about as well. However, it’s long term and big picture thinking that keeps us motivated, helps us shape and sharpen the daily decisions of our lives, and give us the ability to remain focused even through short term pain or discomfort (See: that fitness plan). Change, both large and small is a healthy and natural part of our human existence. So, as we’ve continually heard that a business is only as good as the people it employs, and corporations are in fact people under the law, then perhaps it’s time to start applying the rules that work for people, to enterprise.

In an interesting piece on Strategic Sourcing, that is, a specific plan of action regarding the procurement and hiring of top talent, Argentus Talent Acquisition poses the question: Who is better to Effect the Toughest Changes in Strategic Sourcing? Your Permanent Team or Third Party Contractors? (Go here for the full article) They deduce that the contractor/consultation model allows for greater opportunity for change within your organization by allowing for a fresh perspective and minimizing the personal and political hurdles that can stop an organization from moving away from the status quo.

If we apply this same line of thinking to the larger context of Contingent Workforce Management, it may be time to ask: When is the last time your enterprise truly thought about the long term goals regarding your Contingent Workers? And are small steps being taken daily to effectively embrace that strategy? As we’ve already discussed, change is happening, the only variable is how we respond to it.


Ardent partners are set to release new research later this month that indicates that Contingent Labour is set to rise 30% over the next three years, a figure that they state “Accurately represents the growing reliance on the non-traditional workforce.” If you follow Contingent Labour, deal with mitigating risk on independent contractor compliance, or Talent Management and Procurement, you know the stats already.  It’s very easy to get lost in them. While effective, they can also over complicate the matter at hand. Enterprise at its core needs to innovate, it needs to be adaptable, and it needs skills present to make those first two things achievable. If the big picture is growth and competitiveness in the marketplace, then it’s a major priority to always make sure the base needs of innovation, adaptability, and skills are constantly being met.  Even if the path to get there requires some short term pain or discomfort.  (See: that fitness plan again) More and more, it is Contingent Labour that is being utilized to meet these needs—and while cost savings is usually the most immediate and alluring statistic in moving an Enterprise into this type of model, it can’t be the only thing. Sure, in the short term, it’s easy to be won over by the idea of utilizing IC’s (independent Contractors) to have flexibility in staffing, or save money on taxes and entitlement & benefit programs, but cost savings needs to be looked upon as daily actions of a larger goal, not the entire plan. Or, as we’ve looked at it previously, the small change that sets up the big change.

Long term change, requires long term strategy. If Contingent Labour, is at the core of your business than it’s time to start putting the plans in place to manage it. Whether it be through an Administration or Payrolling Service for your Contingent Workforce, Managed Services, or through Consulting. Not thinking long term about the inevitable change, management, and caliber of your Contingent Workforce may get you through today, but perhaps it’s time to turn that age old interview question on your own Contingent Workforce Management plan. Where do you see it in 5 years? How about 10?

Restaurants have always been a deliciously perfect mix of temptation and entrapment. Take a bunch of hungry people,  stack them by the dozens in a room surrounded by drool educing aromas, and then drop an entire menu full of options and choices in front of them. More often than not the hungry masses will leave satisfied, but they’ll probably have to put on their glasses to believe at how much the meal actually cost. The lesson: Hunger trumps budget, almost exclusively.

The same could be said for the proverbial buffet of Contingent Labour flooding the market. With businesses staffing their ranks from this talent pool at record highs, it’s truly a feast fit for a king for companies looking to tackle their project based labour needs. According to a recent report published by IQ Navigator-who provides technology that manages staffing vendors and temporary workers-even with the rapid growth in the use of Contingent Labour in 2013, costs stayed relatively flat. As with any great meal out however, cotemp-labor-bill-ratesmes the bill.

Contingent Labour hit record highs in 2013 with a total of 17 million workers in the market. Which works out to be almost an 8% jump from the previous year with no signs of slowing down. That number is expected to grow to 23 million by 2017 (MBO Partners). With analysts predicting what Gary Pollard (VP of Information Products at IQ Navigator) calls “upward pressure” in 2014, companies that got into the market to save on labour costs could be looking at a giant bill, not a giant profit. The reasons for this steady rise in the cost of using temporary workers will be associated with “A continued increase in demand, coupled with an expected tightening supply of workers-thanks in part to a declining workforce participation rate, and an increase in college enrollment for people over 25 years old.” Pollard also goes on to say that the aging Baby Boomer population will also contribute. 

Considering staffing agency markups are generally 20-25%, the math does look daunting. A worker in IT currently making 30 dollars an hour (a position poised for a steep raise, but more on that later) may go to 45-50 dollars an hour. That’s an increased profit to the staffing agency of 5 dollars per hour. Over the course of the year that translates to approximately 19,200$ extra paid to the staffing agency-and that’s just for one employee. In Restaurant terms, that’s one heck of a corking fee. 

Employers are still looking to cut labour costs wherever they can, but the need for labour isn’t going to dry up. Projects will still need to be completed and expert skills will be in demand. So, if you can’t save on the labour, perhaps you can save on the mark-up. By tweaking their current model, employers could find themselves embracing direct source hiring, coupled with IC (Independent Contractor) Compliance and Payroll providers that can offer drastically smaller mark-ups and allow the company to still attract and afford top talent. This would be especially attractive to companies that already have established relationships with Contingent Workers at their locations.

 Nobody likes to be told to think long-term and look at the big picture (especially when they find themselves starving and staring at a bevy of choices and opportunity) but making the right choice in regards to how enterprises source their contingent workforce and who (through Admin and Payrolling or MSP) offers the best opportunity to cut costs, and stay compliant and competitive may allow them to have their cake, and pay the bill too.

Amidst a flurry of political and social controversy, the Olympic Games are underway, and for the international firms responsible for staffing the Sochi Games, they hope it’s all downhill from here.

Sochi’s three official staffing Suppliers: Adecco Group, Kelly Services, and Russian firm Exect Business have put three years of work into building the Contingent Workforce for the Olympic Games and the sheer numbers are staggering. The total number of temporary workers for the games may top 150,000 people, and that isn’t counting the roughly 25,000 volunteers that will be lending a hand to make sure the games run smoothly. Among those 150,000 workers 65,000 are skilled workers. These skilled workers were culled from a worldwide recruiting search, offering the opportunity for the organizing committee of the games the chance to hand pick expertise from the very best the world has to offer, as well as the chance for those skilled workers to show off their talents in front of an audience like no other. On paper it’s the perfect trade off, but somewhere along the way things went off the rails. Sochi-2014-Company-Olympics

Vancouver temporary worker Johnnie Balfour’s exposing blog posts and statements about the treatment of himself and his team at the games has been well documented. (Go here to catch up) Even an entire twitter feed, @SochiProblems emerged to document all the issues journalists and athletes alike had encountered upon first arriving in Sochi. Littering news feeds around the world with pictures of brown water and unfinished construction. While these images weren’t exactly the image that the staff and Olympic Committee wished to have us see, the big picture moment of truth for the staffing agencies of the games going forward may not be boiled down to pictures or politics. It may boil down to the larger issues of transparency and control.

For those in the business of the Contingent Workforce this is an issue of risk debated and managed daily, as the decision to either outsource or direct source (hire from within) is weighted against the factors of cost, availability of resources (skills), and time. As the world’s eyes turn to Sochi for the games, administrative/payroll miscues and a lack of communication is not the way to put our (those in the contingent workforce solutions business) best foot forward. In this case, while a pool of extremely talented and eager workers were recruited and gathered for the games, it seems as though when they got there, the communication regarding their income was (at least according to Balfour) left open to interpretation . There is nothing that will turn an IC (independent Contractor) off faster than the notion that they’re not getting paid, and in Balfour’s case, seemed to be the last straw.

As an Employer and a Business you only get one chance to make a first impression with your Contingent Workforce and Independent Contractors. Making sure your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted is an absolute must in an industry where word travels fast.  If your goal is to recruit and retain top talent, miscues are simply unacceptable. In the case of Balfour, the simple and affordable option of an IC Compliance and Payroll service could have been made available to figure out payment options and schedules before he even left for Sochi, and in the process, saved the staffing agencies responsible for 150,000 workers the potential firestorm of being made to look as a willing participant in the headache inducing and livelihood threatening payroll practices of the Sochi Games.

There is truly no replacement for transparency and efficiency in this business and the sheer size and publicity of this only goes to remind us that even a small administrative miscue or oversight can become a giant problem.    

If all goes according to plan when the games close on February 23rd, viewers will hopefully be inundated with images of the athletes’ fists in triumph, their tears in defeat, and memorable moments of sportsmanship and diplomacy. Not pictures of brown water, unfinished construction, and the supposed mismanagement of temporary workers. If the stumbles in the weeks leading up to the event are any indication, the staffing agencies may be the ones in the front row cheering the loudest for the athletes to steal back the spotlight.

Big data is a big topic these days, with companies aggregating consumer data and contracting with third-party marketers to mine it. However, an unforeseen problem arises around unclear data ownership. This is a problem because companies are packaging your data and selling it.

Take the following case — a client was looking to have a marketing company take its point-of-sale (POS) data to prepare email campaigns. Upon closer review of the contracts, data ownership was ambiguously defined and nested in three separate areas: the Master Services Agreement (MSA), SOW, and an addendum. When you trace the definition through the various documents, the only thing made clear on data ownership was that the campaigns resulting from the ETL (extract, transform, load) process were owned by the client. What about the POS data that was sent over to the marketing services company?

In a conversation with a data expert at a retail-focused marketing services company, they package your POS information and sell it to other buyers, thus creating an additional revenue stream. Disturbingly, clients are unaware this is happening and don't share in any of the profits.

Here's what to do to mitigate the issue:

Read more

Big data is a big topic these days, with companies aggregating consumer data and contracting with third-party marketers to mine it. However, an unforeseen problem arises around unclear data ownership. This is a problem because companies are packaging your data and selling it.

Take the following case — a client was looking to have a marketing company take its point-of-sale (POS) data to prepare email campaigns. Upon closer review of the contracts, data ownership was ambiguously defined and nested in three separate areas: the Master Services Agreement (MSA), SOW, and an addendum. When you trace the definition through the various documents, the only thing made clear on data ownership was that the campaigns resulting from the ETL (extract, transform, load) process were owned by the client. What about the POS data that was sent over to the marketing services company?

In a conversation with a data expert at a retail-focused marketing services company, they package your POS information and sell it to other buyers, thus creating an additional revenue stream. Disturbingly, clients are unaware this is happening and don't share in any of the profits.

Here's what to do to mitigate the issue:

Read more

How do you go from zero to six senior-level e-commerce pros in six weeks?

That would be a tall order in Silicon Valley or Research Triangle. How about if you were in Hong Kong, the hiring executive is in San Francisco, the job is in China, and the req asks for Chinese-speaking, retail-savvy, online experienced, e-commerce marketers?

Simon Heaton, Walmart’s managing director in Asia, admits it isn’t easy. It was, he says, “difficult to do and difficult to repeat.” Yet, starting with a “a good clear brief as to what was needed,” Heaton and his team assembled a group of candidates, qualified them, and had everything ready when the decision-maker flew in for the interviews.

At the end of that six weeks, Walmart’s new e-commerce group for China was hired and onboarded. “It requires good alignment,” Heaton modestly explains.

Not even a year ago Heaton was working in Bentonville, Arkansas. Today, he’s building Walmart’s executive team in India, China, Japan, and wherever next in Asia the company grows.

Heaton made the move during a particularly trying time for Walmart Asia. In the spring, 24 of the company’s stores were in the area of the 9.0 earthquake to hit Japan. In the fall, the Chongqing city government shuttered 13 of the company’s stores for 15 days and fined the company in connection with food mislabeling and handling violations. Two of the company’s top executives resigned immediately after the penalties were announced.

Yet in the months since Heaton arrived he opened Walmart’s first Asia recruiting office, brought in a recruiting team, and filled several senior positions in Asia. He manages global executive recruiting and helps with best practices for the recruiting teams in each country. “We’re a bit of a center of excellence for them,” Heaton says.

Filling such senior positions — whether e-commerce, or, more commonly, VPs, SVPs, and occasionally senior or executive director — is not an easy task. The group’s focus is primarily external recruiting, and his most important tools are all social media, especially LinkedIn.

The UK native has been a headhunter as well as a corporate recruiter, and has recruited professionals from all over the world during his 20-year career. “It’s much easier to find people, people with specific talents, than it used to be,” Heaton explains.

In China and India in particular, he says, the corporate retail market is not well established. Finding executives with the background and the cultural knowledge necessary to be successful often means his team searches for expats with retail training.

“It’s much different than when all I had was a Rolodex,” says Heaton. Now, his team will typically turn to LinkedIn first to scour the planet to find the kind of professionals Walmart needs to be successful as it expands globally. Not all expats want to return to their home country; others simply aren’t interested in retail.

“I’m not going to go in with a hard sell to convince someone who doesn’t want to return,” say Heaton. Enough do, making repatriation a key source for the senior positions Heaton fills.

One of the things that surprised him about recruiting overseas is how many people are connected to each other online. At a party thrown by a Hong Kong neighbor, he discovered several people with whom he had either a first- or second-degree connection. “Here,” he says, “You can quickly find someone who knows someone … people are very willing to share their network.”

Even early in his career back in the United Kingdom, Heaton knew he wanted to work globally. “I’ve always wanted to do a global role,” he says. To prepare, he would volunteer for projects that had a global component, and take on searches for overseas candidates or jobs.

“You kind of get a reputation for doing that kind of work,” he explains. So when an opportunity comes along, experience and reputation position you for the job.

That’s the path he recommends for others interested in working globally. “Put your hand up and volunteer to do the work,” he advises.”Network with your teams and colleagues. Help them when you can.”

With Walmart expanding rapidly — some reports, Heaton notes, say the company plans to nearly double in size to 4.3 million workers — there will be a need for talented in-house recruiters in the months and years ahead. Right now, he notes, the next recruiting team is being built for Latin America. Spanish is one of the requirements.

“Globalization is going to continue,” Heaton says. And that means opportunities for recruiters who want to work abroad will expand. Start building the contacts and developing the experience and smarts now for those overseas jobs in the future.

“The first contact is not always when you have a job,” Heaton says. He’s speaking specifically of how his Walmart team works, but his comments are relevant for recruiters thinking of an overseas career. “Make those contacts and stay connected.”

I was just reviewing the predictions I made for 2011 written at roughly this time a year ago. Much of what I thought would happen unfolded as expected, except for talent management. I had thought there would more focus on integrating the employee development and recruitment functions, and more internal hiring. I still think that’s on tap for this year. I was on target regarding hiring: There was no great uptick in the volume of hiring, and unemployment remained static. And I was on target with predicting that social media would be core to recruiting success and that RPOs would thrive.

Over the past two years, the way we think about work has changed. Perhaps accelerated by the recession, there is more focus now on finding satisfying and rewarding work than on just finding a job that pays the most.

More people are thinking about finding something interesting, challenging, and perhaps even fun to do that provides enough income. The key words here are interesting/challenging and enough. Fewer expect to get rich and there is less focus on the money. There is more focus on lifestyle, flexibility, free time to pursue other learning or hobbies or sports, and less interest in family. I’ll do more columns on these trends soon, but partly because of them here are the major changes that I see happening this year.

Internal Recruiting Goes Mainstream

Perhaps one of the most significant trends will be a greater focus on finding current employees to fill existing jobs. Rather than continue time-consuming and expensive external searches, more hiring managers will opt to go with an almost-ready internal candidate who is a good cultural fit and is willing to learn fast. Although hiring managers may push back at this, management will encourage it, and the increasing difficulty in finding and recruiting top talent will help accelerate the trend.

Over the next few years there will be a move to enlarge the skills of current employees so they can be moved around to different functions as demand fluctuates. Employee development will morph from delivering training, to providing accelerated apprenticeships, developing simulations, and finding ways to encourage informal and on-the-job learning.

Recruiters should focus on encouraging hiring managers to look at these internal employees, encourage them to hire internally, and develop better internal talent communities to expose hiring managers to talented employees and employees to opportunities.

Social Goes Mobile

When recruiting does look externally, more of it will happen on mobile devices. The explosion of Android and iPhone apps means fewer potential candidates will be using traditional computers.

Clearly candidates with technical edge and savvy — the ones you are probably the most interested in hiring — will be spending most of their time on smart phones, iPads, and other tablets. If you have not developed specific recruiting apps that take advantage of these mobile platforms, you will be at a disadvantage as we roll into the middle of 2012.

More applicant tracking systems are now capable of using a social profile rather than a resume, and as most candidates already have such a profile it only makes sense that they use it to apply for a position.

Everything from branding to screening to even doing interviews is moving to mobile platforms and using such things as simulations, video, and chat. Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other major players will introduce more mobile apps and functionality during this year.

By the end of 2012, the traditional career site will be mostly obsolete. If it exists at all will be little more than the place where the candidate makes the formal application. Smart firms will make everything they do mobile-friendly and compatible and encourage candidates to interact more with hiring managers, other employees, and even alumni in online forums, chat rooms, Twitter chats, and via video, Skype, and other similar media.

Just-in-time Sourcing and Recruiting

Sourcing has already moved from searching static databases to using social media, and this trend will continue to grow. Rather than build proprietary databases or talent pools, recruiters can participate in and look for potential candidates in many different online forums and communities. As almost all professionals have an online presence, whether in LinkedIn or Facebook or elsewhere, and as many are also likely participating in Twitter chats, Facebook conversations, and so on. Searching for talented people is getting easier each month.

A recruiter can find an interesting potential candidate, start a conversation, provide the candidate with a variety of information sources about the organization and position, and even direct the candidate to screening apps and apps that allow the candidate to apply.

Recruiters can also use their network of current employees, alumni, friends, and colleagues to crowdsource good candidates and leverage referrals.

Entire recruiting campaigns can be run in a matter of days or weeks by using referrals, crowdsourcing, social media, mobile technologies, and by rethinking the recruitment process. Through streamlining, simplification and by getting hiring managers more involved, candidates can be found, screened, assessed, and hired in days.

Continued Rise of Contingent Workers

The use of contractors, part-time employees, and consultants has soared during the recession. And it will continue to grow for two reasons: the first is that it provides employers with the flexibility they seek to manage costs and headcount easily and much more cheaply than by frequent layoffs. Second, many people are finding that contingent employment suits their lifestyle and interests well. They can plan other activities around their work schedules, they can budget according to the amount of time they are willing to work, and they get variety in the kind of work they do and who they work for.

It will be hard to return to the model of employment where just about everyone is a regular employee. Strategies changes frequently, world events and business cycles make it necessary to adjust priorities more often than ever before, and people are less and less willing to commit to a long-term employment arrangement that is uncertain and stressful.

The Beginning of Applied Analytics

Look for more vendors to offer analytical software specifically for human resources and recruiting. We will begin to see how various independent events have an effect on the quality of hire by tapping into data hidden away in their ATS and HRIS systems. They will begin to seriously track and use data to decide the best sources of candidates, what key traits lead to retention and on-the-job success, and where they can reduce costs or efforts and still get good results.

All in all, the economy and the election will dominate this year and, as a result, this should be a year of modest employment growth, a focus on hiring returning military veterans, and even more growth in outsourcing volume recruiting and hard-to-fill positions to RPOs.

Moneyball teaches us that when there is too much information (no sport has more data than baseball), it is time to rethink what and how we measure success. Success in baseball is winning; success in sourcing and recruiting is hiring. And like the journey to winning in baseball, the path to hiring as viewed through the eyes of data will help us determine what activities lead to success.

For more podcasts, webinars, and articles on recruiting be sure to check out!

Of late I’ve been making the contention that the strategies and tactics used to recruit active candidates is fundamentally different than the ones used for passive candidates. Until this foundational difference is resolved, companies will never be able to hire enough top talent to meet their needs, unless they have a big employer brand to hide their process inefficiencies.

Employer brands, however, have limited shelf lives in maturing markets. As an example, just compare Google today and its continuing series of product blunders to the Microsoft of 10-15 years ago. When a company’s business strategy changes due to changing market conditions, its talent acquisition strategies must immediately follow suit.

Quickly, here’s what I believe are at the root cause of most companies’ hiring challenges:

  1. The company’s talent acquisition and development strategy is out of alignment with its business strategy and operating plans.
  2. Lack of understanding of how the actual customer, in this case the passive candidate, decides to engage with a company and eventually accept an offer. Since there is a disproportionate percentage of top people in the passive pool, this is a critical shortcoming.
  3. The workflow and recruiting methods to find and hire passive candidates is fundamentally different than for active candidates. Unfortunately, most companies try to mishmash the two together, and wonder why neither one works too well.
  4. Overreliance on a big employer brand that hides process inefficiencies and narrows the selection criteria based on past hires rather than current and future business conditions.
  5. The decision-making process to hire or not hire someone is flawed, and does not fully address the fundamental reasons why top people underperform. Typically these involve style problems with the hiring manager, lack of clarification around total job needs including available resources, and a superficial assessment of cultural and environmental fit.

Aligning Talent Acquisition Strategies, Plans, and Processes

Addressing the lack-of-alignment problem starts by examining each factor involved in the process. Start with these core components to see how well-aligned your company is. As you read through the descriptions, you’ll quickly see how lack of alignment on any of these factors creates inefficiency, lost opportunity, and problems with attracting, hiring, and retaining the best. One example will highlight problems causes by lack of alignment: a passive-candidate program to target world-class design innovators will fall short if the compensation is based on group averages instead of best in class. I’m sure you’ll see similar problems at your company as you read the list.

Business Strategy. The long-term business plan combined with current operating plans needs to drive every aspect of a company’s talent acquisition program. When the business strategy changes, everything else has to change in domino-like fashion, including the talent acquisition strategy. Since talent acquisition is so critical, if it doesn’t flex quickly with changes in a company’s business strategy, it becomes the tail wagging the dog.

Talent Acquisition Strategy. This needs to support the business strategy with emphasis on ensuring that the best people are put into critical roles. A quality-of-hire target for each job category should further refine this, with specific targets for all managerial, professional, staff, and rank-in-file positions. If you’re a recruiter and don’t know this for your assignments, either you’re not working the hot jobs, or your recruiting department is out of sync with the business it’s supporting.

Workforce Planning. A workforce plan allows a company to develop internal mobility and succession planning programs, and from this, determine external needs by class of jobs. Different sourcing programs are then developed depending on candidate demand vs. local supply, and whether candidates are active or passive. A workforce plan is the first step involved in turning a talent acquisition strategy into a operating plan, so if you don’t have one, you’re missing an important connecting link.

Sourcing Strategy by Job Category. A passive candidate sourcing program is far different than one designed for active candidates. Active is generally higher volume and based on a “find-and-apply” model. A passive candidate program is more targeted, including focused messages, and a multi-step “career discovery and matching process” before the candidate agrees to be a candidate.

Active and Passive Candidate Recruiting Workflow. This is a huge tipping point, and even if the planning and strategy development is appropriate, it often falls apart at the execution level. The key is to have at least two different workflow branches. The passive candidate branch would focus more on the prospect’s needs, involve a formal means to “bridge the gap” at first contact to ensure candidates never opt-out without full information, include pre-interview exploratory conversations with the hiring manager, and a career-based closing and negotiating process.

Of course, there are still a bunch of other HR/recruiting issues that need to be included as part of this talent acquisition program, but these are the big ones (here’s a link to the full list). Doing the up-front talent strategy and planning and then executing against this plan is why doing this right is important. Surprisingly, many companies react to changes in hiring needs rather than plan for them. This is equivalent to putting the cart before the horse, doing the doing before the thinking, or firing before aiming.

While most companies complain they can’t find enough top talent, the root cause is more likely a lack of alignment with the company’s business strategy and talent acquisition programs. If you don’t have enough recruiters, if hiring managers aren’t held accountable, if compensation determines who gets hired, if your ATS establishes your workflow, or if some corporate lawyer says you have to write a boring ad, you are experiencing the problem first hand. Collectively all of these practices and processes are built upon a surplus-of-candidates mentality. The idea behind this approach is to attract as many unqualified people as you can, and hope that a good person falls through the cracks.

Alternatively, you could build your talent programs on a scarcity-of-talent model. In this approach, the needs of the best people determine the workflow, not a DBA. To get a sense of a talent-centric approach, consider how some of your recent best hires made it through the maze. As you review what happened, don’t be surprised that someone “modified” your company’s basic processes to meet the person’s needs. Commonsense would then suggest that you make the talent-centric approach the default rather than the exception. This is a great way to start aligning your talent acquisition programs to meet your company’s business strategy.

by John Sullivan and Laureen Edmiston

Several weeks ago published an article that asked the question “what are the dumbest things that recruiters do.” After surveying recruiters on, Twitter, and at the recent SMA symposium in Seattle, it is clear that most feel the dumbest thing recruiters do is…

Not managing the candidate experience — the candidate experience is the perception of the sum of interactions with an organization throughout the hiring process. It includes every communication, the design of the process, the fairness of process elements, the quality of information exchanged, and the honesty with which questions and concerns are addressed. Providing a poor candidate experience can have many negative consequences, including an increased candidate dropout rate, negative word-of-mouth, and decreased loyalty to the overall brand.

The rest of the “Top 10” are…

Expecting dull position descriptions to attract — potential applicants assume that the company puts its best foot forward when it describes a job. So when they compare your dull, legalistic description with your competitor’s more compelling description, they will simply apply elsewhere. The net result is that you lose candidates unnecessarily, harm your employer brand, and you will eventually frustrate your hiring managers.

Not taking advantage of employee referrals — the best-practice firms approach 50% referral hires (the percentage of all external hires who come from referrals). Failing to fully use referrals means that you will miss out on a large number of high-quality, prescreened, and presold candidates. Because employees are no longer doing some of the recruiting work, your recruiting workload will increase.

Not learning the business — obviously if you can’t speak “their language” and you don’t understand their problems, hiring managers will be less responsive to your requests. Your lack of knowledge will also make it more difficult to communicate with, to sell, and to build relationships with candidates.

Using the same recruiting process for different level jobs — higher-level jobs require a different level of service, knowledge, and relationship-building. So using the same process that you use for lower-level jobs on more sophisticated, technical, or management jobs will result in fewer returned calls, a higher candidate dropout rate, and lower-quality hires.

Making slow hiring decisions — the very best candidates are gone quickly, so a drawn-out process or slow decision-making will likely mean that candidates with multiple offers will be gone. Managers will also become frustrated if a slow recruiting process means losing the best.

Assuming interviews are accurate — interviews are traditionally weak predictors but poorly executed interviews dramatically increase the chances of making a major hiring error. Poorly designed interviews may also screen out innovators and turnoff top candidates, because they have not felt challenged.

Using active sourcing approaches for passive candidates — posting your jobs using active sourcing approaches like job boards, newspaper ads, and job fairs means that the 75% of the workforce that is not actively looking for a job will never see them.

Not prioritizing jobs — focusing on low-value jobs with little business or revenue impact will anger your managers and reduce their business results. It may eventually lead to lower recruiting budgets, after executives see that your hiring is not prioritized and in line with their business priorities.

Not identifying job acceptance criteria — if you don’t proactively ask for their job acceptance criteria, you can only guess about what it will take to get a top candidate to say “yes.” Although it is ranked as #10, not tailoring your recruiting marketing and candidate-selling approaches to the decision criteria of top candidates almost guarantees that you will lose these candidates. Because these individuals have choices, they will simply wait until an opportunity comes along that precisely fits their requirements and expectations.

Final Thoughts

Nearly 80% of CEOs select talent management as the business area that requires the most change. As a recruiter, if you are going to dramatically change, you have only two basic choices, 1) stop doing the dumb things that negatively impact your results or 2) start doing smarter and more effective things. The “stop doing dumb things” choice is probably the easier of the two because it doesn’t require you to learn anything new.

So if you are recruiter or recruiting manager with limited time and resources, we recommend that you use this “dumb things” list to begin the process of changing and improving your recruiting.