|Our research confirms that it’s time to rethink the traditional just-in-time recruiting model. Today’s job marketplace has evolved over the past decade and corporate staffing practices and procedures developed a half century ago no longer deliver optimum results. Even with the help of technology the old model is increasingly inefficient.
Reviewing 10 years of data, we are struck by the consistency of time and cost statistics, candidate quality and hiring manager satisfaction scores, and candidates’ ratings of the application process. If, after a decade of rapid innovation, we are working as hard as ever but not delivering better qualified, better prepared candidates both more quickly and less expensively, then perhaps it’s time to think differently. Is there a better model for corporate recruiting? Research suggests there is.
The Traditional Just-in-Time Model
Just-in-time corporate recruiting, the dominant model today, was built on the same 100-year-old principles that created the revolutionary and extremely successful modern manufacturing assembly line. The most commonly used staffing performance metrics reflect this: number of candidates located, number of candidates processed, processing time, processing cost, units produced (hires), and even defect rates (offers declined and turnover).
Fast forward through the recruiting innovations of the past decade and recruiting ought to be a piece of cake. We can post jobs to enormous audiences in minutes and gather hundreds of resumes in a day. Information about both candidates and employers is plentiful and easily accessed. The old hiring constraints of visibility, time and distance have become relatively minor or disappeared entirely. Staffing ought to be easier but it clearly isn’t. The recruiters we talk to feel their job is as difficult as ever, perhaps even more so. Old timers agree.
It appears that the major impact of all our new technology – electronic job postings, Googling, social networking, vast databases, and computerized job matching – is to make the front end of the old system – the sourcing end – work faster. We’ve upped our unit processing to the point that we’re now flooded with so much data that, while we can store it, we can’t process it. We have captured thousands, even tens of thousands of units (i.e. people) in our systems, but the influx isn’t translating into better efficiency and effectiveness.
The CRM Model
In assessing best-in-class companies, we see the outline of a superior model, one that overlays the processes associated with sales and customer relationship management (CRM) on the current just-in-time model to create clearly superior recruiting outcomes.
The principles of the CRM model are straightforward: an intense and constant focus on understanding, servicing, and communicating with customers. Customer needs are front and center at all times and every resource of the enterprise is directed toward addressing those needs. Job seekers are considered customers.
A complete list of the ways that CRM thinking impacts staffing runs long, but clearly includes these ten:
1) Current employees are recognized as the foundation of the company’s hiring brand and are treated as a strategic company asset. Their enthusiasm for the firm and willingness to recommend new hires are greatly valued. CRM-based firms have exceptionally high percentages of total hires from internal sources: 50%- 75% is not unusual. All employees, including executives, are considered adjunct recruiters for the firm.
2) Corporate culture is very much on display and actively promoted. Recruiters must find candidates who are not only capable but also compatible with it. Disproportionate resources are dedicated to explaining and displaying the culture so candidate fit can be mutually assessed.
3) Information flow is robust. The more candidates know about the company and the company knows about the candidates, the better the chances of a proper fit. Disproportionate resources are also allocated to encouraging that flow.
4) The hiring bar is set unapologetically high from the onset, with the emphasis on quality over quantity. Candidates are actively recruited out as well as in.
5) Clear distinctions are made between the things that computers can do well (provide 24/7 information on a website) and the things that people can do better (answer questions, provide encouragement, make referrals, say thank you).
6) Short-term and long-term goals are equally balanced, which leads to the careful treatment of both active and passive candidates. This approach also acknowledges the enormous numbers of casual job seekers on the Internet who, if treated respectfully and courteously, can become tomorrow’s hires.
7) Job seekers are never forced to reveal more than they wish to at any stage of engagement. Identities can be shielded until very late in the process.
8) All queries into the firm are respected and answered. There is no such thing as a black hole into which applicants disappear.
9) Candidate questions are widely routed throughout the company, even to the executive suite, and timely responses are required. No one is considered too busy or too important to respond to a candidate.
10) Recruiting and sourcing are separate but equal functions. Sourcing’s job is to develop new candidate leads. Given the complexity of today’s job marketplace, it is considered a distinct specialty. Recruiting’s job is to develop the leads once they enter the system. Each specialty has its own metrics.
This CRM-based emphasis on a comprehensive, high-quality customer/candidate experience might seem at first to be a misguided throwback to a bygone era, as well as indefensibly time-consuming and expensive. In fact, the reverse turns out to be true. Companies that operate by people-focused rather than process-focused principles can blow past traditional recruiting benchmarks because:
- Their brand strength serves as a powerful word of mouth magnet that is 100% compatible with today’s Internet-based job market, and especially with social networking. Relatively little job marketing is needed to produce a more than adequate supply of applicants.
- The work of the paid recruiting staff is leveraged many times over by the efforts of the adjunct recruiters.
- External recruitment, the most expensive kind, declines in importance, with a positive impact on costs.
- Time-to-hire declines because there is always a substantial pool of candidates actively communicating with the firm. Many of these are prospective candidates waiting for the right opportunity to open up.
- Overall recruiting workload diminishes because turnover is low.
- Quality rises because quality trumps quantity throughout the recruiting process.
- Satisfaction rises because quality rises, given that so many people throughout the firm have a stake in the hiring process.
Recruiters Love CRM
One of the most interesting consequences of the CRM approach is how positively it enhances recruiters’ quality of life. Instead of feeling like cogs in an impersonal process machine, they now find themselves transformed into helpers, matchmakers, coaches, guides, partners, and teachers. Those we’ve met relish the change. They chose HR because it was a people-centered profession. Now they’re working directly with people and they love it.
We would welcome case studies that explore CRM-based recruiting. If your company is applying these principles today, please tell us about it.
For more up-to-date research,trends,and commentary check out the 2009 Recruiting Metrics & Performance Benchmark Report.