• Shally

If Talent is “top priority” for CEOs, Why is recruitment reactive and not strategic?

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Except for in the rarest of organizations recruitment is relegated to a reactionary role. Operating in sheer survival mode under the unrelenting pressure from hiring managers and job seekers alike, recruiters are inundated with urgent but seldom important requests. This fire drill will remain the norm unless business leaders see that recruitment is directly tied to a modern organizations most critical business objective, growth.

Top Four Growth Objectives:

  1. Penetrate Emerging Markets

  2. Gain Sustainable Competitive Advantages

  3. Innovate for Continued Market Place Relevance and Value

  4. Manage Resources Efficiently to Reduce Cost and Maximize ROI

Hiring is the single largest common denominator for all four priorities. But to hire you must recruit. So why is it that during the strategic planning process leaders take a hard look at their current staff and plan future headcount yet pay no mind to strategic recruitment initiatives?

Leaders in most fields of business consider professional and organizational development to be a paramount need. So why is it that Staffing and Recruitment leaders are directed to spend the same or less year-to-year on developing their recruitment team?

  • Recruitment Marketing is a critical component but only one of several needed to be executed with synchronicity and efficiency to achieve greatness in attracting the right talent at the right time:

  1. Determine effective team structure to make better use of technology.

  2. Difficult to evaluate needs for dedicated sourcers, talent community developer, or candidate developer s if the primary role of recruiter is ill-defined

  3. centralized, decentralized, or hybrid, all models lack strong definitions

  4. Direct Sourcing:

  • About 20% of critical talent won’t respond to marketing

  • Finding talent and making connections is core to recruiting

  • Not all hires are critical but recruiters be able to fend for themselves on those that are

  • Recruiters need not be master researchers just able to find a handful of critical leads

  1. Functioning Analytics:

  • Metrics clearly demonstrate ROI permitting more efficient technology spend

  • 62% of staffing leaders feel they have the wrong metrics but 70% of them feel their marketing strategies are satisfactory

  • How can something be satisfactory when it is not adequately measured?

  • Must be able to get details on every click and forward before investing

  • To ensure adoption and prioritization of technology system must be capable of tracking every source without requiring manual input or extensive customization /administration

  1. Career Web Sites:

  • Online prospects expect you to be web-savvy so provide good user experience

  • Removes obstacles in technology use by fully integrating with ATS and HRIS

  • Applicants demand convergence, integration and portability

  • Next-generation career websites allow applicants to use them how they want, and connect with your on their terms

  • Instead of making them go where you want them to go, you now have to be where they already are (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

  1. Sustainability:

  • Nurture a center of excellence (CoE) and champion subject matter expertise

  • Nobody knows everything, but together we know most of what we need

  • Need a place to house collective experiences, and someone charged with managing knowledge, putting into practice and creating organizational wisdom

  1. Recruiter Development:

  • Must time is wasted just keeping up with changes, experimenting with dead ends and re-inventing the wheel

  • Expert advice in Social Media, SEO/SEM and sourcing skills are critical for survival

  • Most staffing leaders believe that use of the Internet is a key recruitment strategy and a skill set that should be kept in-house, yet almost half of them feel their team is inadequately trained and are dissatisfied with their current sourcing capability!

  • Anything short of an integrated strategy involving all these components remains tactical, no matter how excellently it is executed.

Technology Gaps

  • Each of these mostly ignored sources is larger than any one database, why overlook them? Recruiters must engage their audience in their native habitat and that includes:

  • Blogs: only 15% of recruiters use blogs as a source of talent, yet blogs are among the largest sources of information online (116 m readers and 23 m bloggers in US alone)

  • Get your recruiters to participate in blogs by having their own or commenting on others. Teach them effective blog searching techniques to source leads from blogs

  • Social Networks: 50% of recruiters source talent via social networks but most don’t know how to use them effectively as networking tools.

  • There’s over 190 social network where recruiters can find talent. Most recruiters can search only a small % of their network, train them on how to reach deeper

  • Networking is as important as search. Have recruiters create rich and full profile pages, and carry your brand message throughout all social sites.

  • Create Groups on LinkedIn and Company Pages on Facebook.

  • Engage your target audience in conversations, host virtual events, ask and answer questions. Tie your social network pages into your talent community microsites.

  • Talent Communities: The internet is full of sycophants. Don’t bother creating a talent community if its all about your brand. It has to be geared to the talent target's functional/skill area, or the community dies on the vine

Ineffective Use of Job Boards

  • The Internet population has grown in size and sophistication

  • They are more resourceful, the get around gatekeepers and use online networking to connect with hiring managers. People are seeking to connect, not just be "talked at.”

  • STOP approaching job boards the same way you always have

  • 50% of recruiters are dissatisfied with their job board performance

  • Less than 10% plan to spend more on job posting solutions

  • 36% of Job Board hires are from niche sites - and this number is quickly rising

  • There are approximately 40,000 job boards, use job posting distribution to get them all

  • Job boards are more than just advertising; they’re also searchable databases.

  • Simple "enter keyword and find matching candidates“ approach misses talent hidden in plain sight. People describe what they do using language different than what hiring managers use to describe their requirements.

  • Resumes, blogs, social network profiles and other relevant content seldom contains the same language in job descriptions so good prospects go unnoticed.

  • Train your recruiters on how to use natural language search, not complex Boolean

Search engines are the first place where many people go to ask questions. Why are only a quarter of us using them to reach our target audience?

Search Engine Optimization

  • Only 25% of recruiting teams have effective strategies to optimize their organic presence in search engine query results

  • SEO is not about “ranking” in search results as they fluctuate wildly because of personalized search and search algorithm changes. Its about quality, relevant traffic.

  • Your pages must be visible to search engines. Also label them “Careers” or “Jobs”

  • Display Careers button prominently everywhere, not just in the footer

  • Add unique title tags for each page and consider Landing Pages w/ HTML text

Search Engine Marketing

  • Less than 25% use search engine marketing to have a paid presence among search engine results

  • SEM is not just "[generic job title] jobs" as keywords to bid

  • Think out of the box – use keywords or terms that relevant passive prospect who are NOT job hunting will be searching on (e.g., name of tool, process, etc.)

  • Very inexpensive so experiment, or use a trusted SEM vendor

  • 50% of recruiters say they utilize search engines to identify online talent, but most know only basic Boolean with limited results

  • Traditional search experts still use Boolean which is very ineffective.

  • Rapidly growing Internet population writes how they talk, so we must search for how they actually write not how we think they should write

  • You can't expect any sourcer/recruiter to know all the right synonyms/alternate phrases to search on. Next-generation sourcing solutions have evolved that will put plain keyword searchers at a disadvantage. It's time to incorporate these into your processes:

  • Natural Language Search: using search engines to find people based on conversational writing/speech. This is not an intuitive skill.

  • Semantic Search: semantics is the field of study that focuses on meaning as it is inherent in symbols, words, phrases, sentences, blocks of text. There’s just too much information online. This technology promises to speed up search results, increase our scope and make it easier for us to process information by taking into consideration the meaning behind your question (search string) and giving you the best possible results.

  • Over 4 billion wireless users worldwide, 270 MM in USA and most are Internet-capable. Dwarfs number of PC users (<2 B) particularly in tech, sales, Gen Y and later workforces.

  • Being able to reach them how and where they spend time online requires a new presentation format

  • Adapt e-newsletter campaign strategy to deliver interesting short-form content and links; a pure job posting feed won't appeal

  • Build your opt-in lists now before this channel becomes spam-overrun

  • SMS: response rates are higher for SMS than any other outreach method. Reach your prospects via SMS from the web, or even email

  • CSC: Common Short Codes are an "address" to which a text message is sent. Your audience can subscribe to an SMS newsletter. Include a CSC in your campaigns to engage with your talent pool via their mobile phones.

  • Mobile Pipelines: Integrate with your other channels (FB, LI, Twitter, job ads, blogs) and create promotional campaigns like CSC on t-shirts or giveaways at conferences or job fairs. Send out tips, links to a newsletter, or useful blog posts

Lack of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  • Passive prospects are valuable, but aren't necessarily going to convert to applicants in short-term

  • So they need tracking in a system with ATS-level functionality, but more focus on ongoing marketing

  • Take tips from corporate marketing on how you engage potential sales leads

  • Companies using campaign functionality (e-newsletters, virtual event invitations, soliciting additional user data points to build out a richer profile of interest triggers, etc.) will attract them eventually

  • Also will elicit positive buzz and more qualified referrals in short-term

Use Appropriate Technology

  • Using technology just because “it’s there” can be resource-draining

  • Not every available solution is appropriate to every environment

  • Utilize the simplest level of technology that effectively achieves hiring goals

  • Leverage internal resources and be mindful of your target population's cultural and social outlook

  • Inexpensive solutions are often ignored, costly ones ineffectively utilized

  • Wisdom is formulating an integrated strategy that maximizes resources you already have, and makes use of a mix of appropriate technology you haven't yet considered

  • Reach out to trusted external advisors (such as TLI faculty and peers) not just to vendors hawking their product or service as "the only solution you need.”

Cost is NOT everything

  • Technology decisions should be made because they are the best use of your resources, not just based on cost

  • Save Time:

  • Hire faster by removing administrative, trivial or repetitive tasks from your recruitment process

  • Save Money:

  • New technology can replace more costly older technology

  • Example: Direct Sourcing can replace job board spend, etc.

  • Increase Productivity:

  • Let recruiters spend more time impacting the business and driving the hiring process

  • Maximize Recruiters:

  • Your recruiters become experts and focus on what they do best

Impact of Technology

Positive Impact ☺

  • Speed: reduced time to hire from generating leads to on-boarding new hires

  • Productivity: making more hires with less resources

  • Cost: spending less by centralizing costs, realizing economies of scale

  • Efficiency: smoother interaction between recruitment, HR and hiring managers

  • Flexibility: creative use of resources in new ways not previously possible

Negative Impact ☹

  • Speed: bottlenecks that decrease response times and generate obstacles

  • Productivity: wasting resources managing process created by the new technology

  • Cost: reduced ROI from increased spend on implementation and customization

  • Efficiency: additional moving parts create opportunities for more mistakes

  • Flexibility: procedural rigidity makes it difficult to act quickly in exceptional circumstances

Evaluating Emerging Technology

  • Before sinking money and time into new technology, decide how it impacts business goals by:

  • Conducting research

  • Comparing to your mission or vision

  • Ensuring it meets managerial requirements

  • Ascertaining feasibility

  • Ealuating risk

  • Research

  • Can you verify claims about the technology’s impact?

  • What similar enterprises used it successfully?

  • What is required to support this new technology?

  • What type of support is available to help easy adoption?

  • Mission/Vision

  • How does the new technology support your business goals?

  • Management Requirement

  • What is necessary to allow the new technology to work?

  • Does your business have all the necessary resources required to take full advantage of the new technology?

  • If not, can your business do what it must to support it?

  • Financial Feasibility and ROI

  • Construct a partial budget or pro-forma statement demonstrating the profit generation and cost savings of the new technology.

  • Will it pay for itself? Does the decreased cost offset the added expenses incurred by the added resources?

  • If so, how long will it take for the cost savings to surpass the added spend?

  • Risk Evaluation

  • Change is inevitable. (Except from vending machines ☺)

  • If not adopted now will you need to adopt something like it in the future?

  • If so, how long can you wait without losing competitive advantages?


  • What hot technologies are you hearing about?

  • List all predictable increases and decreases caused by selected technology in each area:

  • Speed

  • Productivity

  • Cost

  • Efficiency

  • Flexibility

  • How can you leverage this new system so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

How to Ensure Success

“Promote and embrace available technology in a way which becomes integral to the drive for attraction, selection and retention of quality talent.”

To ensure you maximize your technology initiatives, you must:

  1. Overcome the challenges of selecting and implementing new and emerging technology

  2. Encourage heightened end user adoption of the new system

  3. Smooth the areas where different technologies overlap or intersect

  4. Reward those who use and evangelize the technology

  5. Promote creativity and innovation in finding new uses for existing technology

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