Three recent Right Recruiting projects aptly demonstrate how recruitment has changed over the last 5 years and are worth using as a demonstration point. Each project was for a different type of job, in a different location and for a different discipline. Yet, each had the same result. Analyzed as a group, these projects send a powerful message about how recruiting has changed. If your HR or leadership team is still focused on an advertisement driven recruitment model that relies on people “applying” to work for you, it is time to join the rest of the world.
Let’s start with a brief description of each project. At the end we will discuss the common element among all 3. I will also bring up a fascinating statistic that was released last week that validates the conclusion of this White Paper. It is nice when data agrees with one’s premise, isn’t it?
Our first project was for a multi-billion aerospace firm with 20+ facilities in the US. We’ve worked with this client for about 10 years through their NJ-based VP of HR. They are a regular, but not a frequent, client. They contact us every few years, usually for senior roles.
The VP of HR asked for help in finding a Director of Lean Engineering to manage lean projects for their East Coast plants. This was a high-level, six figure job and would be a possible springboard to a bigger role. It was a good job because it had multi-plant responsibility, but the travel was manageable because the plants were east coast focused.
In our discussion, the VP told me that his company had spent the last 3 months looking to fill the position. They had run ads and tried to use their network of internal referrals. They did not have one qualified candidate. Their pool was limited to junior people and very senior consultants with no traditional company background. That was problematic because they wanted someone who could be promoted to a VP of Manufacturing job at a local division in the mid-term future.
The second project was for a very different company and a very different discipline. This was one of our oldest clients, going back to 2004 when we first started Right Recruiting. We usually fill 2-3 jobs a year for them and have watched them grow over the last decade. Earlier this year, a much larger company bought them. The COO, a fellow we placed there in 2006, called to say that their parent company wanted an HR person in place. The never had anyone in that role before. It was delicate because they wanted someone who could provide both strategic and tactical HR services at a 150-200 person company and who had both large and small company experience. It was a unique Director level job.
The third job was for a new client in Louisville, Kentucky. The owner was a referral from a client based here in the Delaware Valley. Our Kentucky client was growing and wanted someone to run day-to-day operations and who would allow the owner to focus on growth and new services. It was a classical GM role at a small to mid-sized firm.
As you can see, these were all attractive jobs. The salaries were in-line with the level of the job and all of the companies were successful in their industry. The differences were obvious: location, industry, size and discipline were each different for each one.
When we started these projects, we handled all of them the same way. We used our normal protocol, which basically means that we do everything. We don’t assume that any one tactic will work. We use all of our tools. We advertised each job heavily, we sourced people and we worked our referral network. Recruitment is not rocket science. It is attention to detail and basics. Basically, it is brute force. As a recruiter, the more people you reach out to, the better the candidate pool.
The common element in all of these projects was the end result. At the end of the day, the person who got hired was sourced. In fact, there was not one candidate, for any of those jobs, worth considering from the ad response. Not one.
Here is what each person told us when we contacted them:
- Lean Director – “I am not looking, but the only thing that I would consider leaving my employer for was something with multi-plant exposure because that is my next career step. This sounds like that type of job”
- HR Director – “Within 2 years my current employer may move out of the area. I am in no hurry, but your client is a great location for me and that is important.”
- Louisville GM- “ I like my current employer and job but your client sounds interesting. I think it is worth considering.”
None of these people were active. They were not “looking” but each was “listening”. Each one had criteria that would trigger a job change: location, content, industry, etc. Each one of them acted on that criteria when it appeared.
Now, if you are an employer or HR professional who is still running ads and who is expecting to get a candidate flow from that, please understand that candidate behavior and psychology has changed dramatically over the years. People have total confidence that the job will come to them. They have no need to apply to jobs. They don’t like to apply for jobs unless they are laid off and no one is being laid off in the current economy. Their background is visible to people like me, either through social media or through public databases. They get calls from recruiters and have full confidence that a better opportunity will appear on it’s own. They evaluate each call based on the message about the job and the professionalism of the delivery.
Think about your recruitment method. If no one is looking but everyone is listening, then make sure your recruitment strategy is not holding up a sign while everyone you want to hire is listening to a message.
A quick trip through our last two years worth of interviews showed me something interesting too. Of those who reached the finalist level for our clients, 80% of them were sourced and only 20% were ad response. Of those 20% who were ad response, 90% of them were from out of the area and were interested in specifically relocating to our client’s location. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Those are people who would not be visible to the employer on their own. Let’s face it, someone in Phoenix looking to move back home could not count on an employer in Philly to reach out to them about a job. Those are the people who need to apply for jobs because they are invisible due to geography. They are the classical exception that proves the rule.
Last week, I read something interesting. There are currently more jobs being posted than any time since the statistic has been measured, over 20 years. That means that the gap between jobs being filled and jobs being advertised has never been larger. There are more companies chasing fewer people than ever before. Our experience shows that candidates have turned off to ads but they have not turned off to changing jobs. A good message with a good delivery and a good offer can still get someone talented and ambitious. Employers value their good people now. That means that you need to put something in front of them that is compelling and consistent with their goals or they will happily stay put.
Occasionally I speak to HR people, business owners or executives whose response to this type of candidate selectivity and behavior is very, well, old school. It is a self -defeating response that basically says, if they are not motivated enough to get off their chair and apply for a job, they are not really serious. If that is your initial reaction to this, here are some things to consider –
- If everyone else is reaching out to good people and you are not, you are left with everyone else’s second, third or fourth choice. Ouch.
- Running ads to take months to, at best, get second tier candidates is very expensive. Every week a job is unfilled means that someone else is doing that job. An unfilled opening can result in a second unfilled opening when someone quits because they are doing two jobs, not one job.
- A salary is a trade. It is not a purchase. The basic employer/employee relationship has changed. You are not doing anyone a favor by hiring them. They go to work for you because you offer something of value; salary, growth, challenge, etc. If the employee is good, they can go somewhere else to work at any moment or stay where they are. They do not need you and do not need your specific job.
This is all tough stuff for most business owners or people of my generation. It is not the world we grew up in, I know. But, fighting human nature is like fighting gravity. Human nature, like gravity, has a definite tendency to win in the end. Don’t let your business go splat because you are staffing with the world’s flotsam and jetsam. Recognize that the world has changed. Talent is not lining up at your door any more. It needs a reason to consider your opportunity. Give them one, please.
Thanks for getting this far and, as ever, remember Right Recruiting for all of your recruitment needs.