Moving from the Passive to Active Recruiter through Enablement

Recruiting tends to be tactical.  We follow a clear process: post jobs, review resumes, screen candidates, schedule interviews, process hires.  We do this simultaneously for 20 – 30 positions at a time, and we’re good at it.  We don’t have time to be proactive, strategic or partners to our colleagues in HR (let alone to the hiring managers who rely on us to finish the process effectively and efficiently).

In the age of “big data”, HR Transformation, and standardization, we’re in the middle of massive change, yet experiencing very little change ourselves.  Even with new tools and new technology, recruiting is still recruiting.  Same role, same challenges.  Yet many of us are looking for a way to become a more strategic function.

I work frequently with organizations looking to enhance current business processes.  Almost every time, we hear “our hiring managers won’t do that” when we suggest new ways of working – new ways that could make recruiting faster, more effective, more deeply connected to the company’s strategic goals. For example, SuccessFactors has technology that hiring managers can use to review candidates and rate them in the system, add comments, and send feedback to their recruiter. This is a much faster way not only to get feedback on candidates but to record it so that it’s easy to compare.  Yet “our hiring managers won’t do that.” They want to continue to send notes via email or verbally with no documentation leading to MORE manual work for the recruiting to incorporate that information into the candidate record.

When it came time to talk about opportunities to collect feedback via the system with one of my recent clients and to let hiring managers to rank their candidates in the system the response was, “they won’t do it.”  We talked through training, getting them involved in testing, providing focus group opportunities to bring them along through the change.  Through it all the recruitment team insisted that we remember to build in the “workaround” that would let the managers do it the old, inefficient way.

Here is what you need to do:  stop the enablement.  Stop making it easy for your colleagues to stick with the tried and true, just because it’s what they’re used to.  Challenge them to learn new ways, because those new ways are better for the business. Make sure they understand what’s in it for them – how their results will improve. Here are some ideas to help:

  1. Ask them to look at candidates and resumes in the system rather than in their inbox.  Don’t be afraid to be transparent about why: “It takes much longer for me to pull resumes out of the system and email them to you.  Let’s try it this way for 1 week and you can give me feedback on the next 1:1.  I’ll also track how much time I am saving and give you an update on what I have been able to accomplish in that time frame.” Or “The faster we can connect you to the right candidates, the faster you can fill those critical roles. Emailing is the slowest way .”
  1. Train them to type their feedback or click interview in the system.  This will replace a meeting, phone call, or email feedback that needs to be manually entered into the system.   “Hey, while you are in there, click the yes or no box?  There is also a space for comments!”  This is a good place to start since the next stop will be to have them rate and compare candidates to interview in the system.
  1. Be the change. Get managers used to different forms of media – send links to candidate profiles on LinkedIn.   “What do you think of this profile?  I’ve been in contact with this candidate.  What do you think of the background?”  The idea is to get managers to see the various forms of media available.  It will make it easier for them to transform into the new way of working when they get out of the habit of the printed resume.

Don’t underestimate the difference between making a suggestion and telling them to do it.  You actually have to give them the time to learn, and you have to make it worth their while to find the time.  You need to be ok with that fact that they are annoyed.  You need to tell them that this is going to be how it is from now on.  Try starting with a pilot group of managers.  Get them to tell their peers how easy it is – that will work better than anything you will ever say.

Once you have completed these tasks and tracked the time you have saved (because you will save time) and gotten there feedback about how much easier it was (because it will be easier) you have stopped the enablement.  You are creating an opportunity for yourself to establish new behaviors and set new standard operating procedures.   Maybe you can even start putting a 3 day turnaround time for candidate review.  Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…

These are some very small steps that can get you started down the path to being a strategic partner.  More to come in future blogs.