Over the past few weeks I've had the pleasure of spending some time with several recently promoted recruiting leaders who are asking the big question: “Where do I start?” Those of us who have answered the call of a new talent acquisition opportunity can attest that once you are hired and in your new seat, the pressure to produce results is enormous.
Any credible plan must include input from stakeholders – partners need to see that their feedback is included if you expect to have their ongoing buy in. That being said, as you gather this feedback and think about how to build your team/organization for the longer term, consider the following to ensure your delivery is on track and moving the business forward:
Engage with your existing employee base
Referrals are the most stable and robust source of talent, so make sure this is clear from day one and confirm that employees know how to navigate the referral process. “I didn't know how to refer someone,” is a talent scout's worst nightmare and an unacceptable answer. Make sure your referral process is both easy to understand and engage with. A great metric to chart progress is hiring speed – set a goal stating that referred candidates will get through the process in five days or less, and share it so that everyone is held accountable.
Stabilize execution of the basics
Keep an eye on core processes and systems, to ensure that simple things aren't tripping you up. You don't have to roll out a 500 page manual, but you should make sure that hiring managers and candidate experience processes are closely aligned. Rally your hiring teams around guiding principles that describe the experience you want all candidates to have. Coach managers SPECIFICALLY as to what will happen for candidates and when. Organize and align – but don't orchestrate! It needs to be organic. Progress is difficult to measure – in this case, a quick survey with a few questions for candidates such as, “please rate your experience,” and hiring managers, “please rate your overall satisfaction with the hiring process,” coupled with opportunities for free form feedback, should offer the insight you need to learn, adjust and improve.
Be honest with capability gaps and address them…quickly
Not every team is capable of delivering talent for every function. Be honest with yourself. If you are strong in hiring engineers but not having the same impact with sales, have a candid conversation with partners in those weaker areas. Talk through strategies for bridging that gap. Third party vendors can be expensive, but working with the right vendors who know your business and are personally invested in helping you achieve your goals are worth five times their fee. The worst thing you can do is wait and deny the obvious – that road will land you in a place of unfilled requirements, no plan for success, and angry partners. Be decisive and be smart. Look at candidate ratios...sometimes difficult requirements need a lot of activity, and high applicant-to-hire rates aren't a good indicator. Instead, look for inefficiencies and determine where to improve.
Refine what makes your company stand out to prospects
Forget selling against your competitors. What is the value prop you are offering a prospect? Company values? Career growth? How are you sharing this message with candidates, and who is doing so? Do you want a third party site such as Glassdoor to exclusively define your company and culture? My guess is no – so refine the message and delivery. A quick NPS survey is a great way to measure progress in this area. If you are already to scale, several of the leading applicant tracking systems (Greenhouse is a terrific example) offer a robust surveying feature which allows for automation of large question sets.
Think about the future…early on!
You've got to work the open requirements that are in front of you now. However, having the discipline to think longer term by engaging and tracking future interest candidates is a characteristic of world-class talent acquisition organizations. Whether it's just you or a team of recruiters – build in talent pool development from the start. Eventually, you need to be able to start conversations with your leaders by saying, “here are the five best profiles of people I have spoken with in the past.” To track whether your team is balancing working requirements with being proactive, look at candidates introduced in the first week of a role opening. Are they all applicants, or were they matched by your team?
You can't be everything to everyone and the hard reality is that certain strategies, although important for the longer term, may not be rolled out as part of your initial plan. It's important that you communicate a vision: here is where we are, here are the steps we are taking to achieve our goals, here are the mid and long term areas of focus - then solicit feedback.
These key focus areas have provided me with great results in the past, and I would love to have your feedback on my recommendations.