Recruiting

We have all been through the painful process of conducting a difficult search. The challenge can stem from a host of reasons — managers looking for a unicorn candidate, reputation (or lack thereof) of a company, unclear requirements, and so forth. Attempts to convince an HR manager to change a job requirement gets shot down immediately. 

As a recruiter, your job is to of course find the best people, educate managers on the realities of the market, and consult them where necessary. The consulting part often gets lost somewhere in the mix.

Ultimately, if you want to influence a decision maker to change a hiring process, there are three ways that will influence how you convince them.

  1. Your persuasive ability
  2. Your relationship 
  3. Data 

The first two are skills that you develop and invest in — but they’re also not scalable. The third, data, can be re-used and remains accessible forever. Data is hard to ignore. It’s just so matter-of-fact that companies are forced to acknowledge and take action.

Here are three ways that you can use data as a powerful tool to persuade and consult companies on their hiring strategy.

1. Are the hiring manager’s expectations realistic? Ask the data.

Before you even agree to start a search it’s important to establish how realistic the hiring manager’s goals are. The worst feeling is agreeing to a mission impossible. You have an incredible amount of information already at your fingertips to show them (assuming you are keeping track of the basics).

For example, company X is looking for a marketing manager with 10 years experience in the biotech industry. You provide comparative data and explain that the salary they are willing to offer is 20% less than the industry average. Also, candidates with 10 years under their belt tend to have a senior/director title.

At this point, most recruiters will explain that Company X change their expectations…and they stop there. You need to show them. Send the client a list or table that includes real information, minus the candidate’s names of course.

  • Industry standard compensation
  • Position titles across industry
  • Company names
  • Time to fill for similar positions

How to influence: First, simply telling them versus having this data will allow the HR or hiring manager to have evidence that they need to convince their boss. Second, it establishes your credibility. And third, the client is forced to explain their logic to you. Having this conversation before agreeing to a search will avoid headaches down the line. It will make choosing the right searches easier and allow you to say yes or no more confidently.

2. Use weekly updates to gather data

From the start of the search set the expectation of a weekly update or report that you send by email. This approach provides a retained-search level quality and has the added benefit of holding you accountable. You are not just providing a “pipeline report” of numbers, rather you are sharing real feedback and information. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and should include all of the following:

  • The specific companies you are targeting (“This week I am focusing on contacting candidates from company X, Y and Z”)
  • The # of candidates you have reached out to and their position title (“Approached 24 candidates with sales and business development backgrounds from the above companies”)
  • The # of candidates you have engaged with (“Already spoke with 4 of them and scheduling calls with 8 of them).
  • The feedback you have received, both positive and negative thus far from candidates (“Most people not familiar with your company since it’s a relatively new startup, so candidates needed more time to research and try your mobile app).
  • Questions you have received from candidates (“People are most curious about the CEO’s longer-term vision and would love to get your insight into this..”).
  • Expectations for next week (“Will focus on talking to people from company A and B. Also expect to see 1-2 prescreened resumes”).
  • Profiles of candidates who did not fit the description but that you found interesting anyway (This is a good way to slip in a candidate or two that may not be the perfect fit).

How to influence: Companies will see that you have put in the work. You are showing them the market and giving them real feedback as you progress. Having all of this data now allows you to go back in three weeks and make a convincing pitch. “We have spoken to everyone from small sports brands but the candidate doesn’t exist because of X and Y. Here’s the data. Shall we explore sourcing candidates from larger companies?”

3. Position yourself as a customer experience expert

The profession “customer experience manager” became popular among B2B SaaS enterprise companies and refers to an employee who works cross-functionally to provide a better service for clients. As a recruiter, you can take on this same role with data you’ve collected over time. The approach boils down to analyzing candidate application and interview information across dozens, hundreds or thousands of interviews.

Once you gather a larger volume of data you can create a rating system (from 1-10) for each subject and present it to your clients in the format of a “customer experience report.” Taking it a step further, you can plot a chart of this information against other clients to rank all of your clients. It could include all of the following:

  • Quality of job description
  • Brand recognition
  • Company reputation
  • Product/service attractiveness
  • Interview process effectiveness
  • Realism of requirements
  • Interviewer responsiveness/speed of feedback
  • Candidate submittal to offer ratio

How to influence: Sharing a comprehensive, objective report is extremely powerful. It takes the emotions out of the conversation. I’ll share two examples of how I’ve experienced this.

  1. We showed one client comprehensive feedback from all candidates that had interviewed. We rated the client 4 out of 10 on quality of the job description. The HR had been the point of contact thus far and disregarded the need to update the job descriptions. The hiring manager immediately turned to her and said, “The data is right there. We need to make a better job description — please schedule to make this happen by the end of today.”
  2. One client scored low on “speed of feedback” and “interview process effectiveness.” Realizing these barriers, he subsequently cut two steps from the interview process and agreed to a schedule a weekly call with us to review all outstanding candidate feedback.

Data will continue to play an increasingly important role in recruitment. Data visualization will be a minimum expectation from all hiring managers and required for anyone looking to influence key decision makers.

Fortunately, the incentives to take a data-driven approach are high. When you have the right data you will be able to persuade and find that there is less need to “push” hiring managers or HR. The data speaks for itself. Happy hunting.

About the author: Misha Yurchenko is an ex-recruiter who blogs frequently about the job market, Japan and the future of work. 

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