Own the Process: Recruiting Top Talent
The ‘Magic Bullet’: Three letters. Starts with ‘Y’…
When meeting with folks about recruiting, one question I get is “what’s the magic bullet that’s going to get me more good people? What’s the secret?” Trust me, if I had new technology that guaranteed the acquisition of the best and brightest technicians who just so happened to be actively looking for a new job, I would have cashed out, retired and I’d currently be enjoying a bucket of beer on a beach somewhere. Don’t me get me wrong, I love working at Nexstar, but beaches and beer…
Ever heard of Nick Saban? He is the head football coach at the University of Alabama. He’s been in that role since 2007, and in that time he has won four national championships (as a fan of a rival school I carry a begrudging admiration). The guy clearly knows what he’s doing. To win national championships, he consistently recruits many of the best high school players in the country to come play for him. How does he do it? The keys to his success are that he has a formalized process that works for him and his coaching staff, and he never stops recruiting, ever.
Case in point, after winning one of those championships in which both teams spent the week prior at various media filled events, a friend called to congratulate him. His response? “That damn game cost me a week of recruiting.” He just won the national championship! He was at the top of the mountain! But all he could think about is getting the best and most qualified players to come to his program. Could it be that he understands bringing in the best players correlates to winning championships? I’m seeing a connection here.
My point in all of this is that there is a “magic bullet”: you. There is a difference between hiring and recruiting. Hiring is posting job ads and waiting for applications to fill an immediate need—and only doing this when you have a need. Create a formalized recruiting process and never stop recruiting, ever. Own the process.
What is a formalized recruiting process? The details are up to you, but there are three overarching principles you should build your process around.
1. Employer Brand.
What is it about your company that makes it special? What is the culture like? Why do people want to work there? Why should people want to work there? Take some time and think about those questions and write them down. (If you can’t think of anything, you’ve got a problem.) If you have a team of managers, go through this exercise with them. Sit down with your employees and ask them why they like working at your company (hopefully they’ll give you a positive, yet honest, response!) Is your company heavily involved in the community? Do you host awesome company events that your staff just raves about? Take this knowledge and create a message to use on the career page of your website, in job postings, on social media and in any other vehicles you use to recruit. If you don’t have a career page on your website, make one (it’s 2017 for crying out loud)! Also, consider creating a video which highlights what it’s like to work at your company. Get creative.
You can also use some of the language you use in your consumer marketing efforts to gain new customers. In fact, think of recruiting as marketing: You’re just advertising to potential employees as opposed to potential customers. Be honest about your message. It is vital to facilitate a great company culture where people like coming to work every day. Happy employees are engaged employees, and this is the first step to become an employer of choice and attract the best and brightest. This all goes into what we recruiting folk call “employer branding.”
2. Recruitment Strategy.
To get the word out that you are looking for the best and brightest, cast as wide a net as possible. Posting to online job boards is still a good thing to do, but also consider other resources. Part of the problem with online job boards is that they are typically visited by people who are either out of work or actively looking—but what about the potential candidates who are working and may not be looking? Out-of-work candidates and actively looking candidates may still be good candidates, but many of the best technicians are gainfully employed. In other words, they aren’t visiting online job boards.
So the question becomes, “How do we find good candidates who aren’t actively looking for a new job?” This involves a consistent effort of networking to generate contacts and building relationships from those contacts. When you find good candidates who aren’t interested in your job, don’t give up. Just because candidates aren’t interested now doesn’t mean they won’t change their minds down the road. Keep candidate’s contact information and stay in touch. We in recruiting land refer to that as building a candidate pool or pipeline. Great candidates who aren’t interested right now may also know someone who might be interested, so don’t forget to ask for referrals. Lastly, make sure you have a robust employee referral program which includes a nice bonus to your team members who refer qualified candidates.
3. Interview Process.
When it comes to interviewing candidates, your goal is to get as much information as possible, while simultaneously selling your company and career opportunities. Keep in mind that while you are interviewing, you’re judging each other. You are trying to decide if they are the right fit for your organization, and they are determining if you are a company they want to work for. The biggest component is having a consistent, professional and friendly interview process. I often get questions about how many interviews a candidate should go through. The number doesn’t matter, as long as you are getting the information you need to make an informed decision, and you are not making the process too long and cumbersome for the candidate. Lastly, think about different ways candidates can demonstrate they can do the job. Interviews are good, but the one negative to them is that candidates are simply telling you they can do the job. Consider also having them demonstrate they can do the job.
Having a formalized recruiting process that is done consistently is absolutely vital to bringing in the best and brightest. Recruiting is branding the company as an employer of choice and consistently making connections with potential candidates and keeping in touch—developing a pipeline, even when you’re not technically “hiring.” Recruiting done right is a legitimate business process just like running service calls or processing payroll. Build that business process and then own the process. Trust me, Nick Saban would be proud.