The balance between utilising internal HR and external recruiters to find the right person for a vacancy is a fine line. There is a time and place for both in my opinion. The key is having the CEO or Leader take an interest and making talent attraction and acquisition a priority rather than a process.
My first week back for 2012 turned out to be an exercise in frustration purely based on the fact that many leaders aren’t taking the topic of talent and recruitment as a serious priority in their business. I returned full of energy and excitement – specifically around some amazing people in my network who have decided to put their feelers out in the new year. Not active talent scanning job boards and the paper – individuals who are happy for me, as someone in the game to keep an eye out, to represent them and to make a match. They want a recommendation of an employer of choice – to sell them an opportunity so they aren’t just randomly floating in the market hoping to get it right.
Let’s just remember for a moment that there is a skills shortage. Top talent is hard to find. The BEST person for your vacancy is more than likely to still be sitting in 90% of the passive market completely unaware your position exists. Greg Savage, Australia’s recruitment king said last week that it is time to “increase innovation and time on talent acquisition”. I tend to think many businesses still have their head stuck in the sand running their administrative processes, convinced this will give them the right candidate. I agree that often these processes will place the job, but will it deliver the very best the market has to offer? I doubt it.
So keeping all this in mind, when I was doing my market research last week, I noticed an opportunity with an organisation, who’s CEO I am connected to on LinkedIn. After reading their requirements, I instantly thought of someone in my talent network working in a similar organisation with the skill set required. This person is highly motivated, a top performer and is only interested in hearing about real opportunities with organisations that value contributions and support ongoing learning. He is not an active candidate. He does not read the job advertisements in the paper and he certainly doesn’t scan job sites. Is he open to a new opportunity? Of course, everyone is available for a change.
I approached the CEO with good intent – to offer him the potential of someone who he won’t find through other methods. I had a return call from the HR person. The typical spiel goes “we are running our own process, we aren’t engaging any agencies and will not be accepting resumes from recruiters”. We’ve all heard it. So you’re not interested in seeing a high performing candidate who is doing a similar role in a competitor organisation? You’re not open to viewing the details of a candidate who could hit the ground running right now and potentially start delivering results for you in the next 3 months? You want to wait 4 – 6 weeks to run a process with a risk of finding no one of this calibre because “it’s policy”. Pleeeassssee! Spare me.
This is where I think some leaders have it all wrong. You don’t need to outsource your entire recruitment process. If you have capable, forward thinking HR people in your team – great, utilise them, but don’t have tunnel vision that restricts opportunities and potentially the best individuals joining your organisation. There is a balance. A balance between internal HR and using external consultants who specialise in finding the untapped potential in the market can be a winning combination. This is the difference between just running a process and being innovative and getting ahead of the game, using all resources, networks, tools and connections to ensure your hire the best person every time. After all, surely that’s the goal to have the very best people working for you in your organisation?
On the other side of the coin, I know a dynamic entrepreneur 3 years into his business and he is kicking some serious goals. He is winning contracts here and overseas, hiring some of the best people in the market and has already had several offers from the big boys around town to buy-him out. What is his approach? Not to palm off the process to HR that’s for sure. He networks, he is open to opportunities, he speaks, he connects people and the results are he is winning the race for top talent. He has hired 3 executives in the last 2 months that were not on the market, working for larger competitors and guess what? They weren’t reading advertisements in the paper and they certainly didn’t have seek alerts in their inbox. He has advocates selling his story, he always makes time for a new introduction and he knows that the right people in the right jobs are the key to his business success.
There is a whole un-tapped market of passive candidates who are open to conversations. They are open to new opportunities IF asked, IF engaged in a conversation and IF a forward-thinking leader is open to the possibility, without the fear of not sticking to process, standard advertisements and standard recruitment methodologies. You don’t find passive candidates by your HR department running a standard process.
The next time your phone rings, you get a LinkedIn request or an email recommending someone who is interested in your business – count yourself lucky, be open to the opportunity and for goodness sake clear 20 minutes in your diary to at least consider the possibility. As highlighted by Ross Clennett, the PWC global CEO survey supports my concern by stating that two-thirds of CEOs believing they’re facing a limited supply of skilled candidates, but what action are leaders taking? Make it a priority! After all what could be more important than growing and improving your business through recruiting talented high performers?