Why is Process Important When Selecting a Recruiting Firm?

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Let’s face it, few things can be done repeatedly well without having a process.  Whether it is manufacturing a product, designing a website, or training your employees on an important task, the process should be well defined. Furthermore, the process should be continuously improving to achieve the desired results.  Miriam-Webster defines “process” as:

  1. Progress, Advance; Something going on: Proceeding.
  2. A natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result; A series of actions or operations conducing to an end.

Traction – The Entrepreneurial Operating System”, a strategic planning and execution model, requires its adoptees to develop a “proven process” in addition to other best practices.  This allows them to communicate to their prospects/clients the process behind how they will achieve the results you seek.  The military uses what they call Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs are the defined steps for a particular task or function to ensure success and consistency.  5S, ITIL, ISO, COBIT, Lean, Agile, SCRUM, Six Sigma, and countless other examples are all process frameworks. These methodologies are designed to improve outcomes and provide standardization to a process.

We would argue that the best recruiters have a proven process for ensuring results and measuring the activities and outcomes.   Your recruiter should be able to speak fluently (and at length) about their process. Furthermore, they should be able to show you how they execute and achieve results. Following are a few key aspects of what we believe are critical elements to an effective recruiting process.  In another article, we will address the importance of having a technology stack to strengthen the proven process. 

Discovery

This aspect of the search is what we believe to be the most critical element to conducting a successful search.  We call this an intake meeting. Discussing and laying out important aspects of a company occur during the intake meeting. A company’s operations, department(s), position(s), and job(s) are all points of discussion that are extremely useful for the success of the search. Ultimately, this enables the recruiter to build out a successful search strategy.  The truth is, though, your recruiter will require the right experience (as discussed in this article) in order to ask all the relevant questions needed to create the blueprint for your search.  If key questions are missed, the likelihood of quality is diminished. This means your search will run longer than necessary.

Strategy

Search strategy is the game plan for conducting an effective search.  There are many components to building out a successful search strategy, which includes job posting strategy, sourcing strategy, and competitor & industry analysis.  It is also where great recruiters identify key contacts in their network to help gain passive candidate referrals.  While great applicants can sometimes hit your job posting, it is more likely that the best candidate isn’t looking for a job, so it won’t matter how attractive your job advertisement is.  If your search strategy doesn’t include sourcing passive job seekers from proprietary databases and a network of industry contacts, then you’re likely missing a huge segment of the population that may provide the best candidate for your job.

Sourcing

Sourcing, simply put, is like mining.  You have to know where to dig, and you have to be able to sift through lots of material in order to find what you are looking for.  Having an effective sourcing strategy improves the top-of-funnel candidate volume.  Having an experienced recruiter with credibility in your area of need goes a long way. An experienced recruiter knows where to find the right talent pools and has improved response rates over an inexperienced recruiter.  The downside of most HR and Talent Acquisition teams is they have little time to source for passive talent. Therefore, they rely heavily on the “post and pray” approach to recruiting, which can significantly increase your time and cost per hire, as well as your hiring frustration.

Screening

So let’s assume your recruiter has gathered all the right details and has been able to fill the top of the talent funnel with plenty of passive and active job seekers.  If they lack the years of experience, they may likely fail to translate the details you provided in the intake meeting into an effective approach to screening. Overlooking these key elements during the screening process can result in less than satisfactory candidates submitted for consideration.

Most people think screening is just matching buzz words on job descriptions with the same on a resume.  The reality is, this is only the first layer of screening for a seasoned recruiter.  Assuming the resume looks good, recruiters should spend at least an hour screening/interviewing the candidate as they look for knowledge, skills, abilities, accomplishments, philosophy, experience, and personal details that are relevant to determining if a candidate is aligned with your company’s culture and the job in question. 

If the candidate gets past the first interview, then they should conduct an additional (customized) behavior-based interview. Of course, any additional testing should be tailored to the client’s specific needs. Oftentimes recruiters can add personality and/or cognitive assessments to glean additional insights about a candidate.  Lastly, references are a must. Find out what your recruiter’s reference check process looks like, as it should serve as the final nail in the coffin!

Closing

Most people in the hiring game think of closing as something that happens at the end of the process.  We would disagree.  Closing is something that should be done early and often.  If you don’t know what’s most important to the candidate, then it is likely you’ll have a hard time speaking the same language at the offer stage. 

Additionally, when you are hiring for a high-demand/low-supply resource the shelf-life for talent is short.  That said, competing opportunities can, and do, get in the way.  Passive talent that isn’t actively looking for other opportunities are less likely to have competing offers.  Opposingly, they are more likely to get cold feet, or are likely to accept a counteroffer from their current employer if not handled properly throughout the process. 

The closing process can get a bit more complicated when you are dealing with 401k/Stock/LTI (long-term incentive) vesting, and relocation.  Benefits these days can also add to the complexity.  Again, we believe the best motto for closing candidates is “early and often”. While even the best process can’t ensure a smooth offer stage, it can eliminate a lot of the issues often overlooked by an inexperienced or busy recruiter.

Finishing

This aspect of the process can be confused with closing, but they are very different.  Great recruiters should never have just a single offer-worthy candidate.  Having a robust and comprehensive process will ensure you aren’t empty handed if your first offer falls through the cracks.  While you’d prefer to take the pick of the litter (so to speak), ideally your recruiter will put you in a position to have more than one great candidate to offer should your top choice fall through.

If you are trying to determine what recruiting agency to select for your next key hire, we recommend that you ask them some simple questions.  Make sure you’ve done proper diligence.  A little work up front will pay off big dividends in the end.  Contacts us if you’d like to take a look at our process and what goes into running an effective and comprehensive recruiting engagement.