recruiting

Winning the Tech Talent War

This article was originally posted on Nov. 16th on LinkedIn.

Author: Pete Smith

Last night, I attended TalentMinded’s Next Generation Talent Acquisition meet-up on “How to Hire and Retain Tech Talent”. The panel included Jack Noppé, Chief Product Officer of Intelex Technologies Inc., Lauris Apse, Senior Director of Digital Operations at CBC, Malgosia Green, Chief Product Officer, TopHat and Gianluca Cairo, Chief of Staff, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Government of Canada.

The panel discussion for the evening explored ways that companies are being successful in attracting and retaining scarce technology talent. The moderator for the evening, Kim Benedict, CEO of Talentminded kicked off with a sobering statistic. In a forty-kilometer radius of the event, there are currently over 700 open job postings for full-stack software developers and this is just one of the many job titles that make up the software development infrastructure of a company. Against this backdrop, I captured five important themes from the evening to share.

Companies are moving away from hiring for “Culture fit” to hiring for “Values fit”. This may seem a very subtle and nuanced difference, but it is an important distinction. “Culture fit” often leads to hiring people who look and think like you and therefore eliminates a large number of candidates from the pool, creates systematic biases and reduces diversity. Hiring for “Values fit” means hiring people who share the same values as you and your company, but may think very differently about how to accomplish these. This leads to diversity in thinking, higher productivity, better solutions and a more diverse and less homogeneous workforce. It also opens up larger pools of candidates.

The second key point was around understanding your employee value proposition, embracing what you are and matching your recruiting strategy to attract the people that looking for the distinctions that you offer. Working in Digital Media at CBC represents a different employee value proposition and attracts a different employee than the value proposition of working at high growth start-ups like Intelex or TopHat. One is not right and the other wrong, but rather each attracts different candidate types.

Third, imbed your recruiters into your development team so that your tech recruiters sit with, go to lunch with, and socialize with your Dev team. Break down silos between HR / Recruiting and your hiring managers. When I led a large team at PeopleSoft, we approached the working relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager similar to the working relationship between a salesperson and their sales engineer. Both have distinct roles but ultimately work as a team to sell your value proposition to a candidate and convince them to join your company.

Fourth, you can not run recruiting as an “off-the-side-of-your-desk” activity. Recruiting must be a primary activity for leaders and metrics are required to hold managers, directors and executives accountable for results. Three years ago, I worked with a client to restructure their recruiting approach. At the time, I told their SVP for Products and Services that he needed to carve out 30% of his schedule to devote to recruiting. Eighteen months later, he confessed that at the time that he thought I was crazy, but looking back, he thought my time estimate was low and he had spent more than 30% of his time on recruiting.

Finally, think of “Diversity” as Canada’s secret weapon and superpower in the talent war. We have internationally renown universities that attract students from around the world (for example, 35% of University of Toronto’s enrollment is international students). Our challenge is to keep that talent here once they graduate while also attracting experienced talent to relocate to Canada as permanent residents. To that end, for qualifying companies, The Canadian Federal Government is establishing a two-week "standard" for approving visas and work permits.

There was a lot of wisdom floating around last night. I hope these few points that I captured help you in winning your war for talent. 

Robots vs Recruiters: AI and the Future of Talent Acquisition

As technology advances, many in our industry wonder whether or not artificial intelligence (AI) will replace recruiters or, at the very least, how it will impact what we do and how we do it.

Is the death of the recruiter finally here? 

Our sold out and much anticipated #NextGenTA MeetUp on June 8th covered this topic thoroughly through a panel discussion and audience questions. We wanted to ask some of the industry’s best and brightest where they thought AI would take us and what kinds of obstacles and opportunities might be presented along the way.  

At the MaRS Discovery District, we sat down with Kevin Grossman, President of Global Programs, Talent Board, Victoria Reynolds, Head of Talent Acquisition at Capital One, Chris Brown, Director of Talent Solutions, Canada at LinkedIn and Sara Cooper, Talent Director at Omers Ventures. Here are just some of the highlights from our conversation and insights these talent leaders provided to the packed house at MaRS: 

Q: Is AI the death of the recruiter?

Sara answered: “No, I read this 10 years ago and we’re still here. It will however transform HR and recruiting. A good recruiter uses tools to be better and faster. If a transactional recruiter is just posting jobs and waiting for applicants, then AI might be the death of that recruiter. If you believe in building relationships then AI will only help you be a better advisor and elevate your career.”

Q: Kevin, what are your thoughts on AI’s impact on recruiters and the candidate experience?

“Relax, the robots aren’t taking over. I came into the HR tech space in 1999. AI had a job matching algorithm, which was solid technology at the time. I haven’t seen a lot of change until very recently. Like Sara said, AI helps empower recruitment. Where we will likely see the most impact (and potential job loss or restructuring) will be in sourcing and administrative tasks. Companies that win, will invest in leveraging new technology to drive efficiencies and provide better feedback loops through people.”

Q: Chris, what is AI and how is it being used today in recruitment?

It’s important to frame the different types. The term “artificial intelligence” is fairly generic. In recruitment, a lot of AI is heavily focused on matching and resume parsing. What we’re seeing now is a transition to more intelligent learning. For example, AI becomes very interesting regarding speech recognition. It’s working towards learning - using AI technology in a customer service chat bot, perhaps moving to interviewing, and face recognition. Sourcing, however, is where we might lose jobs. We can’t comprehend how fast it changes because it will almost certainly occur faster than humans can adapt to it.”

Q: Victoria, what are your thoughts? What happens if companies don’t adapt? 

“We need to find balance. We’re make progress using predictive analytics, using data to cut down on both the recruiter and candidate time. At Capital One, we’ve looked into chat bots for credit card customers - can we apply this to the recruiting experience? We’ve also looked at building an application for scheduling and aiding candidates in their preparation. We chose to build this in-house as our teams know culture and we believe that can’t be taught unless you’ve lived it.” 

Q: Sara, how has technology modified the role of the recruiter? Have we raised the bar to strategic thinking?

Recruiters don’t have the best reputation – you just have to read Linkedin to know that. They have to be better at adding value and being proactive and AI will allow them to do that. AI will separate the great recruiters from the rest because it will free them up to focus on strategic work. Recruiters who will survive are the ones who can meet the needs of the business not just today but six months or even years from now. If we are going to prep our business for our CEO stepping aside five years from now, we need to start building a pool of potential replacements today. Those relationships need to start today. That’s something that AI can’t do, at least not right now.

Q: Kevin, based on candidate experience benchmarks, where do recruiters win?

“The one thing we measure is the potential business impact of how candidates are treated. If candidates are treated fairly, communicated with, and given closure, 64% of the time they will apply again, refer others, and buy your stuff. 43% of candidates who have a bad experience will sever that relationship. This is significant for a consumer based business.” It comes down to respect for the candidates time, no amount of automation can fix that.

Sara jumped in on this one: “Always remember that declined candidates are future customers. We need to better predict with accuracy what we may need - perhaps AI will help us do a better job at workforce planning.”

Back to Kevin: “There is a speed aspect that AI can help with. Often candidates withdraw due to the length of the recruitment process.”

 

Q: Chris, what’s happening with LinkedIn right now when it comes to AI? What can we expect as it relates to Talent Solutions? 

“AI exists today on LinkedIn with features such as “jobs you are interested in” and “people you may know”. As engagement improves, AI does the heavy lifting to get you more value. LinkedIn Recruiter is still restricted to skills and keywords but it’s moving toward social cues like a LinkedIn user’s affinity to the company or brand, or intent. Our AI technology will celebrate what we do for both companies and candidates. AI will help us move from just finding people to real recruiting which goes beyond just finding people but to attracting and engaging those with the right skills and affinity to your brand.”

Q: Victoria, are we going to create bias through machine learning and AI?

“Humans are biased. Machine learning can highlight whether or not there is bias. The more technology we use to identify unconscious bias, the better off our recruitment processes will be. The robots might actually help.”

To gain the full Next Generation Talent Acquisition experience - awesome panelists and thought leaders, sponsor rewards and networking - keep an eye out for our next MeetUp announcement for September 19th! The topic: Diversity. Not a member? Join here.

Thanks again to our panelists!

Lastly, this event would not be possible without our awesome sponsors. Thank you to XRefIdealTalentMinded and ViziRecruiter for not JUST sponsoring the event but sending your awesome teams to join in on the fun and add value to the conversation. 

If you are interested in speaking, sponsoring or have a topic that you would like to see us tackle please contact Kim Benedict, kim@talentminded.ca.

Have a wonderful summer #NextGenTA friends - we’ll see you in September!

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

Why Referrals should be top priority

Why Referrals should be top priority

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

Author: Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

From the time that I got my first “real job” I learned quickly about the power that employee referrals can have on a company and its culture. As well, after working in the start-up world, I have seen first hand how important it is to tap into the pool of talent in your network to hire people who believe in your company and mission. 

As it turns out, I found my current employment through a referral.  It’s easy to see why my employer is tapping into their referral network before posting positions online–hiring through an employee referral is faster, more cost effective and generally a better culture fit–and I’m living proof! I would also go as far to say that the majority of people I know found their first and often second job through a referral. 

It’s important for companies, especially tech start-ups, to understand the end-to-end value of an employee referral. Here are some of the reason employee referrals should be your number one, if not only source of hire when you are in the early stages of growing your business–and they may be different than you think.

JOB HOPPING HAS BECOME THE NORM

“Job hopping” has become the new norm; 91% of millennial workers only anticipate spending 3 years or less at one company. With so many options out there for a lot of skilled talent, especially in tech, it’s easy to keep fast tracking your career forward with great leaders and great companies.

Being a millennial I can attest to this myself and I see it happening within my network all the time. We have the mindset of always thinking about the next best thing. When I talk to people in my network about their current jobs, the majority are not planning to grow their career within the current employer or foresee the opportunity to do so. 

So there are two key points to this: 

1.       Given millennials may move jobs more often, having someone you trust refer them into your company can be a good sign.  Often times we dismiss ‘job hoppers’ thinking they can’t hold down jobs or get fired.

2.       Cutting through the noise on job boards and inmail ‘spam’ or avoiding it all together by going direct to your immediate referral network can be a key competitive advantage especially in a tight labour market. 

EMPLOYEE REFERRALS = HIGHER RETENTION RATES

We have entered into a time where it is easier than ever to apply to jobs and find them online – or the jobs find you! With tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, people can apply to multiple jobs with ease and/or receive daily notifications about jobs that match their search criteria. When applying to, and getting jobs, is this easy, it is essential for employers to look at other methods of employee retention.

Employers who have employee referral programs have 25% higher retention rates of employees after two years than those who do not. When you already have the inside scoop on a company, and know people who you respect within the company, it helps in making a smooth transition. Employers who use their network for referrals, and not just internal employees, have a better chance at extending their reach into the labour market and attracting talent who are pre-qualified ‘fits’ for the company.

My first experience with this was when I worked at a bank during my undergraduate degree. After my first year of employment, I referred two people to the company–one that I had worked with, and one a fellow student. At this bank, culture fit was very important, and since I had a great sense of what it was really like to work there, everyone I referred was hired and stayed and moved up in the company.

When you think about companies who have had success in hiring through employee referrals, like my current employer TalentMinded, the ROI is in employee engagement, retention, lower cost and time to hire and company growth.  

SO HOW CAN YOU INCREASE EMPLOYEE REFERRALS?

A lot of companies, especially start-ups, give employees perks for referring people to the company. It’s standard to have some sort of monetary compensation or tangible reward to motivate employees to tap their networks. We find most companies offer a minimum of $1500 per hire paid out after 3 months or half and half during the probationary period.

There are other things companies are trying in an attempt to fill their pipeline with quality referrals for hire.  I have a friend who works for a company that is doing some cool things with their referral strategies and its working. For example, they give their employees extra vacation days if they hire your referral.  They also take the employee and their referral out for lunch the first week the referral starts and make sure they publically recognize the employee’s contribution through a monthly newsletter and townhalls.  

Another way to increase your referrals and get your employees jazzed about digging deeper into their networks is to give it a brand of its own.  Try creating a sub-brand for your program with a logo and tagline to match.  This will help get your employees rallying behind something more tangible and visible then just an email reminder from time to time.

The ‘ask’ for more effort and energy in driving an increase in qualified referrals should also come from the top down.  A message from the CEO can be more powerful than a standard HR policy announcement or poster in the lunch room.

Lastly, consider rewarding your brand ‘ambassadors’ beyond your company walls.  Encourage referrals from external networks and people who know you and the company well.  Being a start-up usually means your small, so why not reward ALL the people that care about your success.  Extend your reach by expanding your rewards to other raving fans around you.  And as we mentioned, it doesn’t have to all be all about the dollars and cents. As stated in one of our earlier posts, “Why don’t companies reward the people who care about them”, it’s the thought that counts – don’t underestimate how far a $25.00 Starbucks card can go in helping you build your brand!

Essentially I am a firm believer in employee referrals based on what I have experienced personally as well as the success I have witnessed through my network and their career paths. Having some sort of employee referral system in place, that employees will actually pay attention to and action, should be a top priority when crafting your recruitment strategy.

Please feel free to share some of the things that your company does to drive referrals!

Author, Stepahnie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

 

 

 

 

How do you know if your recruiting strategy is about to fail?

A collaborative blog post with Pete Smith.

Before the holidays, we were talking to a manager who was bemoaning their workload. On top of everything else, they were conducting candidate screening interviews because they had four open positions and their internal HR team was too busy to get the screening interviews done. Kudos to the manager for picking up the slack—but as a CEO, is this how you want to run your company? 

In our last post, we asked: Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting? We are in a talent war. Tech CEOs know this, yet most lack metrics to understand whether their recruiting process is working well, about to fail, or already on life-support.

No CEO runs their business by periodically looking at their financial results to see how they performed. Instead they use forward-looking metrics and trends such as size of their sales pipeline, average time to close a deal, average deal size, and the trends underlying these metrics to predict their future financial performance.

The same goes for recruiting. If you aren’t already tracking, measuring, and diagnosing your future recruitment success, here are six metrics to get you started.

1.      Is your time-to-hire more than 52 days?

52 days is the average time-to-hire, and that metric hasn’t changed much over the past ten years. Obviously there will be outliers (such as an average of more than 250 days to hire a sales rep in San Francisco), but this 52-day benchmark provides a good diagnostic to understand whether your recruiting team and hiring managers are executing well.

2.      Are 90% of the applicants for any open position unqualified for the job?

This metric is the ratio of applicants rejected prior to screening interviews divided by the total number of candidates who have applied. Beyond the obvious waste of time in filtering, a too-large applicant pool makes it difficult to pick the best fit candidates. Hiring managers should spend 20-30% of their week recruiting, but not on filtering applicants. This time is best used on networking, generating referrals, having ‘coffee’ conversations with passive prospects to build future talent pipelines, and of course interviewing only the most qualified (short-listed) candidates. If you can’t map these tasks to your hiring managers’ activities, you have a problem.

3.      Are less than 20% of your hires coming from employee referrals?

If less than 20% of your hires come from referrals, then you may not be tapping into the best talent pool.  Multiple studies show that employee referrals are better quality candidates, take less time to hire and are happier and more productive than other sources of hire.

4.      Do you interview more than ten short-listed candidates for any role?

A 10:1 ratio is very generous. Ideally five short-listed candidates should yield a good hire if your process is working. This metric is calculated from the ratio of candidates hired to the total number of applicants that pass the screening interviews and are recommended for further interviews by hiring managers. Interviewing more than ten short-listed candidates either means that your recruiters and hiring managers aren’t aligned on the job requirements, or that they can’t tell the candidate a compelling story about the position and why they should want it. It could also mean that you are mostly interviewing active job seekers and not searching out enough passive candidates (which are often the stronger candidate). Five short-listed candidates or fewer per hire is a good metric.

5.      Are 20% or more of your job offers declined?

If more than 20% of the offers you extend are declined, you’ll never be able to keep pace with your growth. This may indicate that your compensation and benefits package is not competitive, or reveal that the candidate experience during the interview process is turning off short-listed candidates. Bad reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, especially recent ones that go unaddressed, can also have a big impact in the eleventh hour. 

6.      Is your Glassdoor score higher or lower than 3.1?

If your score is lower than the state average of 3.1 (according to Bersin by Deloitte) your company will raise a red flag in the candidate’s mind. A higher score, coupled with authentic, positive, and engaging employee comments, can mean the difference between a passive candidate rejecting or accepting your request to talk. Current stats show that approximately 67% of candidates use Glassdoor as part of their decision making process, and on average a candidate will use up to 14 different pieces of online information to assist in deciding whether to accept an offer with your company.

If you like our benchmarks, feel free to use them in your business. If your metrics aren’t measuring up, our next post will tell you what you can do to change the game.

 

Kim Benedict                                           Peter Smith

CEO / Co-Founder,                                 Managing Partner, 

TalentMinded Inc                                                   The Meaford Group Inc

Forgot the December Slowdown: Keep Recruiting on Track

Many people make the mistake of thinking that recruiting slows down in December and January. They put their hiring activities on hold, waiting for budgets and workforce plans to be reviewed and approved. What a loss!

Just think: the global average time-to-fill for a vacancy is currently 68 days, and still increasing. Finding the right people takes time—and the more challenging the role, the longer the recruitment cycle.

If you press pause on your recruiting activities this December, waiting until people are back from the holidays, then the earliest you could make your first hire of 2016 could be mid-March. That’s the entire first quarter gone!

Then if you think how long it takes to onboard and bring a new employee up to speed—about 60 days on average for a Sales Rep, for example—well, you can do the math. That’s a significant loss of time, productivity, and potential revenue.

While you may not be sourcing new candidates on December 24th, there are plenty of strategic recruiting activities that you can tackle this upcoming holiday season to help reduce your time to source for new roles in the New Year. According to Jennifer Bouyoukos, VP, Talent Management at Argus Software, "This time of year is the most strategic.  Now is the opportunity to execute on some of the most important elements of recruitment like branding, workforce planning and mapping critical talent".  

Here are five ideas to help get you started:

  1. Build Talent Pools: If your company is looking to grow, you’ll already have some idea of the ideal profile for the type of people you want to add to your team. Now’s your opportunity to use tools like LinkedIn to start researching and building talent pools for upcoming vacancies. Look for benchmarks at organizations that hire like you, and save potential candidate profiles in a folder. If you want to be proactive reach out to your connections who know these individuals and ask for a warm introduction. One networking coffee date could be your next awesome hire.
  2. Activate or Refresh Your “Free” Internet Real Estate: Candidates—especially those who are “window shopping” over the holidays—will be searching the web for more information on your company, your culture, and what makes you a great employer. What are they going to find? Sites like GlassdoorIndeed, and Stack Overflow allow you to post pictures, write reviews, and share what it’s like to work for your firm. It’s imperative that you monitor these sites regularly and refresh the content on an ongoing basis, especially when you are ramping up hiring. Sites like Glassdoor also provide analytics for who’s viewing your company profile—average age, education, and much more. Use these insights to begin to plan your recruiting strategy and craft the right message for your audience.
  3. Get Published/Create Content: Even if you’re not planning to hire until the New Year, write and share an article or blog post. You can talk about how you grew your culture, how you’re creating or disrupting a market, how your workplace is different—or whatever it is that makes you great and that potential job seekers may find compelling. Articles and blog posts are also a great way to support your recruitment messaging, build buzz, and expand your social media reach.
  4. Rewrite Your Job Postings: The pressure is always on to ‘hurry up and just post the job!’  The result—no time to be creative and out goes a stale job ad that attracts all the wrong candidates. 

Boring ads don’t create enthusiasm in potential candidates or your referral network. We can’t stress it enough—the best candidates crave something new and different from employers. Get ahead and start working on your posting strategy. Be bold. Tell a story. To start, take a look at your old job ad and ask yourself, “Why is this important?” after each line five times. For example, “We have been in business for 20 years” – why is this important? Stability. Why is stability important? And so on. This will help you drill down to your real messaging, and help you gain a fresh perspective  on how to communicate with your target audience.  

 According to Rob McDougall, President/CEO at Upstream Works Software, “Our [TalentMinded] job ads generated higher quality candidate  applications all around. As a result, we tapped into new talent pools and found the right fit for our company fast.”

5.  Sharpen Your Interview Skills: “Slow” times are the best times to brush up your skills—and the skills of your hiring managers. Identify skills gaps and create a plan to address those areas through targeted training workshops or programs. For example, TalentMinded offers a two-hour Interviewing Skills Workshop that helps managers improve their probing and assessment skills, and enables them to make better hiring decisions. This interactive training is loaded with creative activities and role-play, and makes a real difference in hiring managers’ effectiveness. 

Still stuck? Check out this blog—Think about your recruitment process like sales and marketing. What activities are happening in your sales and marketing departments right now that you can mirror in recruitment?

Recruitment shouldn’t slow down during the holidays. Careful planning and strategic thinking now will pay off in increased productivity and better metrics in the New Year.

At TalentMinded we help companies scale through better talent acquisition programs.  We provide a monthly managed recruitment platform that includes people, process, tools and technology at a fraction of the cost of staffing firms. Our solutions are more strategic and insightful than traditional in-house models and can scale with you.  Find out more about why our clients rave about being more TalentMinded.  

Need more insights and ideas - drop me a line - kim@talentminded.ca

The Recruitment Mistakes CEO's Don't Know They're Making

Does this sound familiar?

A mission-critical vacancy. You hurry up and post the job online.  The result, all the wrong candidates—or no candidates at all.

Work piles up. Critical deadlines loom. 

At this point, you have no choice. Time to bite the bullet and pay a recruitment agency. Anything to get someone in that seat fast!

These “recruitment 911” moments happen all too often—and many business leaders don’t realize it’s not the candidates that are the problem. It’s their recruitment process. 

Take “Bob,” for example.  Bob is a collection of many of the conversations that we have with tech CEOs. “We’ve interviewed fifteen candidates and no one’s a fit,” Bob says. Or, “We’ve had the role posted for six weeks and zero viable candidates have applied!” 

Bob can’t grow his company because he can’t find the right talent.  He doesn’t have the budget or the desire to pay expensive agency fees—but what’s the alternative? 

There’s no silver bullet in recruitment, but a few simple changes can generate big results—especially for companies like Bob’s.  Here are some of our recommendations to get started. 

  1. Use an applicant tracking technology. Many companies (including tech firms!) still manage candidate applications through email. Handling vacancies through a technology platform not only makes it easy to manage candidate flow and gain valuable data, but vastly increases role visibility. Not using appropriate technology robs you of countless impressions and opportunities to connect with a wider candidate pool, especially on mobile. Depending on your budget and your hiring volumes we recommend Jobvite,Jazz or Breezy.
  2. Create an interesting and authentic job ad. Generic job ads source generic candidates. To catch the attention of even the most passive candidates, create a job ad that reflects the colour and culture of your organization, and that discusses both the good and the bad points of the opportunity. Everyone is looking for “smart” people that are “collaborative”.  What makes your opportunity unique?  What makes your foosball table more attractive?
  3. Show your culture in creative ways. Just like a new client, a potential employee will look for information about your company to support their decision. Add photos, testimonials, reviews and more to your web portals (not just your career page) to show candidates that you deliver on your employee promise. Sources like IndeedGlassdoor and Stack Overflow offer free company pages where you can provide insights into your company culture.  As part of TalentMinded's recruitment program, we interview the CEO and write interesting blog posts and articles about them and their company to complement our hiring efforts.
  4. Proactively source candidates online. Don't just 'post and pray'. Take time each week to reach out and network with potential candidates. In reaching out to a candidate, you’re not just connecting to the individual but potentially to their whole network. Not every connection will lead to a candidate—but even individuals who aren’t a fit may refer you to the perfect person for the job. 
  5. Determine your process upfront.  Don't make things up as you go along. Savvy candidates, especially more passive ones, won't last if you take too long between steps or deliver a poor candidate experience. Recruitment is a process. Proper planning at the outset will save you time in the long run.
  6. Enhance your personal LinkedIn profile. Just as savvy hiring managers look up candidates online, so do in-demand candidates research the people they’ll be working for. Don’t underestimate the amount of time potential candidates spend researching you and your company online. If a candidate looks at your LinkedIn or Glassdoor profile, what will they find? Will they be inspired by your vision, your passion, and your direction for the company?  

Do these tactics work?  We helped Bob implement the right applicant technology and had it set up in 72 hours. We created a new, interesting job ad that was posted in the right locations and shared via targeted social media platforms, increasing visibility and reach. And we helped create an online presence that reflected the true company culture—quickly and easily. 

Within weeks, quality candidates filled the pipeline, five were shortlisted—and the company made the perfect hire. 

Stop making recruitment harder than it needs to be!  With some good planning, a deeper understanding of what makes your culture attractive, and the right sourcing tactics, you can get better hiring results. 

TalentMinded helps tech companies grow their business through high-impact talent acquisition programs. We provide flexible, scalable monthly managed recruitment services (people, process, tools, technology) to help you hire the right people, and build talent pipelines for today and the future. 

Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting?

A collaborative blog post with Pete Smith.

“We are in a talent war”. Maybe you’ve heard this statement recently. We certainly are hearing it frequently from CEOs and other senior executives of software companies. Yet, in this war, so many of the wounds seem to be self-inflicted or from friendly fire.

To win a war, you need to commit resources, take risks, act with urgency and often invoke a flair for dramatic or brazen acts. Sales professionals will say the same applies to selling. We argue this equally applies to talent acquisition strategy and recruiting so our question to you is: “Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting?”

These days, it’s harder to find great talent than it is to find new customers. Recruitment is a sales process. Yet, while leaders state that talent is a competitive advantage, few companies run their recruitment function with the rigor, foresight, or resources that they devote to their sales function. In other words, if companies are losing at the “war for talent,” then they’re doing so not because of competition or external forces, but because they’re fighting ineffectively: no strategy, old and ineffective tactics, poor messaging, and lack of data or forecasts to guide decisions.

To make our point, we would like to compare and contrast typical sales and recruiting processes.

Talking with sales leaders, we’ve found common sales processes and management techniques across industries. Sales starts with defining the value proposition, which is converted into messaging aimed at a target market of prospects to generate leads. Leads are qualified and scored against their propensity to convert to a sale. Through this process, sales professionals create a lead funnel, measure leads against stages in the sales pipeline, and track conversion rates to create a time-phased sales forecast.

Throughout this process, lead qualification is important to avoid wasting time on deals that have a low probability of closing. Urgency is also prevalent in the actions of sales reps in order to keep leads and prospects warm, and moving towards a closed deal. Prospecting is an ongoing marketing and sales activity and rarely will a sales leader say that they have too many leads.

And in today’s world, how many sales organization operate without CRM technology to manage to sales process? NONE.

Now consider your recruiting process and what of the above is missing.

In our experience, companies start their recruitment process at a disadvantage by not articulating their value proposition, or by neglecting to turn that value proposition into compelling candidate-focused messaging. Most companies post an internally written job description—a boring, text-heavy document that describes the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the role. Rarely will the job posting be a “marketing” document which describes and sells the benefits that the candidate will get from joining your company, such as skills development, career advancement, culture, or environment.

This is analogous to sending out product specifications fact sheet as sales and marketing material in order to attract prospects. It does not work!

Once the job is posted, applications are received, but often one of two things happens: almost no one applies, or there is a flood of applications. In the first situation, recruiters must scramble to find someone, anyone to put before a hiring manager—with no leads, no prospects, and no line of sight on where to find the right candidates. In the second, recruiters are overwhelmed with the task of sorting through applications from people who are unsuitable for the role. In both cases, the hiring manager ends up frustrated: “Why can’t I just see a few great candidates? No one seems right for the job.”

When it comes to dealing with applications, some companies use a screening process based on University marks to complete the initial sort and discard. As Pete argued in his post, "I don't get it: Why are Employers Fixated on Marks", this is the wrong strategy and potentially eliminates great candidates for no other reason than work efficiency.

Where are these companies going wrong? Consider how many sales organizations rely solely on inbound leads to stumble upon them. The answer is NONE. Instead they invest in tools and techniques to help them be found, nurturing campaigns to develop prospects and outbound prospecting to target potential customers. So why do we expect this ineffective strategy, (often called “Spray and Pray”) in which a company posts a job description on multiple job boards and then hope for the best, to work for recruitment?

Your best candidates are likely passive—not currently looking for a job because they are happy in their current role—and need to be identified, nurtured, and encouraged to consider a role with your company. Just as with sales, this often comes down to building a relationship over time, not desperately reaching out at the last minute in the hope of grabbing a “quick sale”.

For example, a small software company could never find enough qualified developers or professional services candidates to meet their growing needs. We recommended to the CEO that he become the face of recruiting. To build a candidate pipeline, he personally spent a summer reaching out to potential future employees on LinkedIn. Although this sounds daunting, it really meant evenings, when he was in front of the TV, with his laptop searching LinkedIn. His search criteria was competitors or companies selling similar software into his target industries and when he found a profile of the current or former employee that he liked, he personalized an invitation for that person to connect. Most accepted. After building a pool of a few hundred candidates, his normal LinkedIn activity of posting relevant, interesting news about his company nurtured these candidates, built their interest and exposed them to current job openings. The result: No more talent storage.

Just as with sales, prospecting should be an ongoing recruitment activity—and rarely will a great sales leader say that they have too many leads. In recruiting, leads are people—candidates who may come work for your company, if not immediately, then in the next six months to two years.

Yet to be able to effectively build a recruitment pipeline of potential future hires, the recruitment team needs to be baked into your company. This means being kept up to date on upcoming corporate changes and new projects, understanding what roles are likely to need new people through growth or turnover, having a line-of-sight on what makes a successful hire for particular roles, and understanding the unique factors that makes each department “tick.”

Armed with this information, recruitment can build a predictable talent pipeline months in advance: developing targeted messaging aimed to the target candidate group (sales messaging), reaching out to potential candidates (generating leads), screening candidates and conducting preliminary interviews (qualifying leads), and targeting those individuals most suited and most likely to consider a role (convert to sales). Top recruiters say that for many roles it may take up to 100 candidates, researched and contacted, to find that one perfect hire. Lead qualification is critical throughout this process to avoid wasting time and energy on candidates that have a low probability of closing.

Finally, if this really is a talent war, you don’t send your army into battle armed with sticks and clubs. Analogous to the sales CRM system, Google AdWords, marketing automation technology and SEO tools, your team needs modern recruiting technology. It starts with an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). If your job posting says “please email your resume to careers@yourcompany.com “, the battle is over and you have lost before the first shot was fired. Other tools your team will also need are social recruiting tools such as premium or recruiter subscriptions to LinkedIn, niche job boards and advocacy marketing tools like Techvibes, a strong employer brand message and sourcing technologies like Entelo - just to name a few.

Again and again, leaders ask, “How can I get the people I need to help my company reach its targets?” The answer is simple: look to your sales process and mirror it in recruiting. 

Kim Benedict                                           Peter Smith

CEO / Co-Founder,                                 Managing Partner, 

TalentMinded                                           The Meaford Group