September 30, 2005   view past issues

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Feature: The Super R’s of Recruiting Excellence

Although they have their roots in an earlier and much simpler time, old fashioned “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic” remain core competencies for a successful career even in today’s technologic and global workplace. A person who is skilled in the 3 R’s can acquire, communicate and analyze information effectively, and those capabilities are still critical to successful on-the-job performance. They are also the foundation on which a second tier of equally important core competencies can be built. For recruiters, I call these essential skills the “super R’s” of recruiting excellence.

The super R’s are:

  • Rigor: applying analytical skills to sourcing decisions;
  • Relevance: applying marketing skills to brand and job advertising; and
  • Relationships: applying sales skills to our interactions with employment prospects.
  • As with the original R’s, these super R’s are core competencies for successful job performance. In this case, these are prerequisites for winning the War for the Best Talent-for acquiring the top performers our organizations need to achieve their mission.


    Every organization must spend its limited financial resources wisely if it hopes to meet the expectations of shareholders and/or owners. For recruiters, that means we have to avoid the “habit trap”-using the same, old sources over and over again for every requirement, regardless of their yield. The fact that a source is well known or that it provided good candidate flow in the past does not necessarily make it the best source for our requirements in the present. And, picking the right sources for today’s requirements-the ones that will deliver top quality candidates with the skills we need at a price we can afford-is one of our most important responsibilities.

    How do we make such decisions? The key to making smart sourcing investments is rigorous analysis, and rigorous analysis depends on data. In other words, we have to become expert at:

  • researching the characteristics that define and differentiate various sources (e.g., what kinds of candidates visit alternative job boards, how long do they stay on those sites, and what services can we use to reach them). These data enable us to make informed judgments about which source to use, when working on a requirement for the first time.
  • collecting performance data so that we can evaluate the actual return we achieved on our sourcing investment. We need to establish a generally accepted definition of quality (i.e., one that’s agreeable to both recruiters and hiring managers) and apply it to the new hires generated by the sources we selected. That assessment of the qualitative outcome can then be compared to the cost of achieving it, and the resulting ROI for each of the sources evaluated to determine which performed best. This finding, in turn, should guide our next investment decision, with its results evaluated the same way, and that process should be repeated for each and every requirement.
  • Rigor, then is the iterative quest for optimized sourcing results.


    Passive “A” level candidates are, by definition, reluctant job changers. They are almost always employed and, like most human beings, intimidated by the prospect of doing something new. To recruit them, therefore, we have to convince them to change devils-to move from the devil they know (their current employer, boss and commute) to the devil they don’t (our employer, a new boss and a different commute). That level of persuasive power cannot be achieved with a three line classified ad, a recruitment process that treats applicants as cogs in a supply chain or with hiring managers who interview like Attila the Hun.

    The only way to sell passive prospects is by creating a powerful consumer experience. This experience encompasses all of the touch points where our organization and its employees interact with candidates during the three sub-processes of recruitment-sourcing, evaluating and selling candidates. To optimize that experience, we have to:

  • determine what factors are most likely to attract top prospects to our organization and motivate them to buy its value proposition as an employer. This information is available from the “A” level performers in the fields for which we are recruiting and who are also already employed by our organization. The best way to acquire it is with the same focus group research techniques that the marketing function uses to determine what consumers want from the products or services they buy.
  • use the factors that will motivate top talent to “buy” our employer to tailor the procedures and activities that make up its recruiting process. In other words, we must give “A” level candidates the feel of what it’s like to be an employee of the organization by providing a mirror image of that experience in our recruiting process. Further, that mirror image should be developed from an “A” level employee’s perspective because that’s the caliber of talent we’re trying to recruit.
  • Relevance, then, is the creation of the right consumer experience for top employment prospects.


    In almost every case, passive “A” level performers expect to be wooed. They want to be given information about an organization and be sold on it by individuals whom they know and trust. Said another way, what top talent wants is a relationship. In that respect, they are not unlike consumers. Indeed, our colleagues in the sales function have long recognized that the key to arriving at a purchasing decision is CRM-customer relationship management. It involves a clearly focused strategy for overcoming reluctance and reinforcing perceived benefits among those customers the organization wants most.

    Candidate relationship management is not for the faint of heart. It requires a strategic perspective when most organizations are lead by executives focused on day-to-day operations. Yet, it’s that big picture vision that ultimately provides real and sustainable strength in the near as well as the long term. To implement it, we must:

  • identify prospects who have the potential to make extraordinary hires, but (a) are not yet ready to move from their current position, and/or (b) do not yet buy into our organization’s value proposition as an employer, and/or (c) for whom we do not yet have an appropriate opening. Nevertheless, we proactively seek to locate, contact and sell them on our organization and the benefits of staying in touch with it.
  • use mass 1:1 communications to build on that initial introduction and develop familiarity and trust with each and all of the prospects. Regular e-mail messages should provide professional and career information that the recipients regard as useful and, in return, ask for and gradually collect a file of information describing their occupational capabilities and goals. The net result is that we acquire the insights necessary to pre-qualify candidates, and candidates acquire the insights necessary to be pre-sold on our organization’s employment value proposition.
  • Relationships, then, are an accumulation of information and trust to the benefit of both employers and prospects.

    The old fashioned 3 R’s are just as relevant in our information economy as they were back in the industrial era, maybe more. But that information economy is now complicated by a labor market with critical shortages among key skill holders and exceptional performers. To survive and prosper in that more demanding environment, we need three additional R’s-the super R’s of rigor, relevance, and relationships.

    Thanks for reading,


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    This Issue’s Sponsor: NETSHARE

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of NETSHARE.

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    Section Two: Site News You Can Use joined hundreds of other job boards and career portals in providing employment services to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Called, it represents the first effective use of the as yet unproven domain. Other employment sites are also doing their part; among those that have sent us information are HealtheCAREERS Network, The Destiny Group, and In addition, is seeking to broker a unified response from a broad range of employment sites that would then be available for large scale disasters that may occur in the future.

    Leadership IQ announced the results of a new study that examined how new hires fare in their first 18 months on the job. It discovered that almost one-in-two (46%) will fail, and only one-in-five (19%) will achieve undisputable success. Why do new employees fail? According to study respondents, the reasons covered almost everything except their ability to do the job-their skills. They said that 26% couldn’t accept feedback, 23% were unable to handle their emotions, 17% didn’t have the necessary motivation to excel, and 15% had the wrong temperament for the job. And here’s the real kicker, in follow up interviews with hiring managers, an astonishing 82% said that, in hindsight, clues to such problems were uncovered during the employment interview, but the manager was too distracted with other matters or too pressed for time to pay attention. What’s the lesson? We need to build a business case that the cost of getting it wrong-in time lost, diminished performance, lowered morale, and increased work for the manager and the team-is simply too great for managers not to prioritize the time and effort necessary to get it right the first time.

    McKinsey & Co. released the results of a study of so-called “consumer driven health plans” that are now gaining traction among employers. These plans typically involve both a health insurance policy with a high deductible and a personal spending account that encourages employees to be consumer savvy in their use of health care services. The plans do have a positive impact on employee behavior: in those organizations where they are installed, 50% of the workers were more likely to inquire about cost before deciding to use a service, 20% were more likely to participate in employer-provided wellness programs, and 30% were more likely to get an annual checkup. The downside? It’s a tough sell. Just 16% of the employees surveyed selected the consumer option, and over half (55%) were willing to accept high insurance premiums in order to avoid any possibility of a curtailment in health benefits. How can we educate our employees to be smarter health consumers (whether or not we use a consumer driven plan)? Transform an area of your corporate intranet into a Family Wellness Center. Provide tips on healthy living and how to make best use of healthcare services and then promote the Center to both employees and their families.

    Rx Career Center launched a redesigned version of its site for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy industry professionals. The site now includes features for both passive and active job seekers and is being promoted as a career center as well as a job board in order to attract both.

    Watson Wyatt concluded a study which found what many HR professionals have learned by experience over the years: too much attrition is bad, but too little attrition can be bad too. In fact, the study found that a 5% turnover rate can be just as harmful to shareholder value as a 43% rate. What’s optimum? Clearly it depends on industry and location, but this study concluded that a company with 15% annual attrition performs better than companies at both extremes, when measured by shareholder return. What drove turnover in the study? Small distinctions in pay between high and low performers, onerous employee workloads caused by vacancies that go unfilled for long periods of time, and cuts in training and employee development when the business cycle turns down. In short, nothing we haven’t known for a very long time in the HR field. So, why do these problems continue to exist? There are undoubtedly several reasons, but I think one overshadows all of the rest: we in HR have been seduced into a management culture where we hope to be recognized as “strategic partners” of other managers in the company. But, our companies don’t need more managers, they need more leaders. They don’t need people who focus on doing things right; they need people who can and do focus on doing the right things. That’s how you stop repeating the problems of the past and break new trails in the present and the future. You bolster your “know how” with communicated conviction or what I call “know why.”

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Your hospital is seeking to add a respiratory therapist to its staff. Which of the following sites would let you breathe easily about finding top prospects?

  • 2. The purchasing department in your company has just lost its buyer, and you need to find a replacement fast. Which of the following sites would offer you a good deal?

  • 3. With the spread of canine flu recently, your veterinary clinic needs to bring on another veterinary technician. Which of the following sites would be your best friend when sourcing prospects?

  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    American Marketing Association Online Job Board

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Fee to post a job: $200/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 20,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among resumes: Marketing Manager, Marketing research

    Other services for employers: Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports: postings/banners

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but, a portal site for charities “with lung-sensitive missions.”

    2. All of them.

    3. All but, an employment site serving military veterans and their families.

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