Talent Acquisition

Recruitment: It’s Not All Champagne…

We recently secured a director level candidate in India. It had taken us 43 weeks. Congratulations followed with high 5’s in offices across the region. Wasn’t Talent Acquisition wonderful! Notice periods in India are often 3 months… We endured the wait. 1 week before his start date, the candidate emails; it’s all over, he’d been counter-offered and already signed.

Internal or External, all recruiters know this feeling. I saw the attached picture in Gurgaon from the window of a painfully slow taxi shortly after hearing this news and desperately held myself back from taking control of the car and applying the accelerator.

A call came through last week from an obviously disgruntled candidate regarding positions in Australia. My raised eyebrow and I, noted almost immediately that his name appeared against every role we had advertised in that country for the last month. He could apparently do them all. Yes, he had the received the email indicating that we would contact candidates if we were interested in their application but why hadn’t I called? A short pause followed after which I responded. ”Why, if I may ask, did you think it was appropriate to apply for the financial controller, mechanical engineer and the trades role in a single day, despite not having a single requisite qualification or experience in any of the roles?” Needless to say, this was not the response he was expecting.

Recruiters get a lot of attention for the wrong reasons, particularly recently. Caught between candidates and their sense of entitlement, stakeholders who think that recruiters produce talent in a manufacturing facility and our buddies in HR (one day someone is going to insist this dark art becomes measurable and its going to be awkward for everyone), it’s become a particularly challenging craft to master. The trend I’m seeing is specialization within what is already a specialized field. Instead of corporate recruiters making the leap into Compensation and Benefits, Learning and Development or HR, they can now branch into areas such as sourcing (campaigns, critical roles, boolean searches, web-mining, advertising), business partnering (workforce plans, job briefs, interviews, talent management), executive search and leadership.  Of course, I’m referring to larger organisations; in smaller enterprises recruiters are expected to do the lot.

And why the need to master the craft? 

  • hiring mistake is a complete disaster.  You let a lunatic through the doors and the knock-on effects go far beyond the realms of simply having to tolerate incompetence or cultural clashes. It can destroy teams, lose customers and the costs to manage are high particularly when you involve the local HR sage who offers vague advice and some electronic templates.
  • Those recruiters that are smart enough to elbow their way into interviews know that this time is precious. Behavioral competency interviewing or not, the clock is ticking and you have precious little time to discover what you need and quality check the specimen. You’re looking at micro-expressions, body language, asking probing questions, being serious. And don’t get me started on the ‘pro’ HR crowd and their interview styles. It takes hundreds of interviews to get this part right so leave it to your recruiter particularly if they are responsible for quality
  • Talent is literally the most important resource in an organisation and recruiters are wired to find it. Its what we do. Pretend your organisation is a sports team; million dollar swaps, buyouts, drafts, tv coverage etc.  Its important right…? Because everyone knows that without the best players you aren’t going to win anything. Adopt this approach with your hiring and you’re on the right track.
  • Human beings are unpredictable and as a consequence recruiters become suspicious of motives and wary of overtly friendly or ”expert” candidates. In recruitment you see an awful side of humans; greed, lies, entitlement, anger, guilt and the odd sprinkling of psycho.

Its a tough gig, but finding the right person can turn company’s and team’s around, close multi-billion dollar deals and galvanize shareholder interest and value. In time, organisations forget though that it was you the recruiter that sourced this talent. It was you, the recruiter, that picked up the phone or sent the first prospective email, which led to the interview and it was likely the same recruiter who successfully negotiated the offer and shook the new hire’s hand on their first day.

So put a skip in your step on your way to work tomorrow, you’re kind of a big deal. That painful person that can’t take a hint and keeps calling you asking for feedback? Give them a straight answer, people always appreciate it and if they don’t, be blunt because they won’t fit in. That hiring manager that wants you to find that magical candidate in a couple of weeks? Say no, because you aren’t an administrator and you know best. Challenge them on the ridiculous below market salary they are offering; ask them why they can’t manage to retain their existing team; tell them which companies are hiring and what they are paying; push back, dig your heels in and tell them what you are going to do, don’t ask…

Author: “The Aquirer”- No small dose of healthy HR skepticism. A career in Talent Acquisition leadership in global companies from the heat of the Asia Pacific to the crisp air of Europe.  Pragmatic, strategic, and every now and again… serious.

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