Making Recruiting A Competitive Advantage Part 1

Companies spend millions cultivating the right image they see as ideal for them.  They spend millions on branding, promotions, R&D and training.  They spend millions on training sales reps and customer service reps.  They spend millions on consultants to help them have the best service so that customers are happy and come back for more business.  However there is an Achilles heal in this process that can literally be like cutting one’s wrist.  Very few companies focus on the service provided to the professional communities from which they recruit.  This can spell disaster as millions spent on branding and service go down the drain due to a poorly designed and often dehumanizing recruiting procedures. 


There are plenty of articles and blogs complaining about the hiring process, that’s not what this is about.  It’s about focusing on the solution, not point fingers.


The hiring process in the vast majority of companies, fail to recognize that the professional communities they need to recruit from, are customers.  How you treat them is just as important as you treat a paying customer.  Would you ever send an untrained sales rep that knew little about the product line to a valued customer?  No.  But companies do send poorly informed people to interview candidates, people who are not intimate with the needs desired in the position to be filled.  Would you send a sales rep to do a sale that did not actually know how to sell?  No, but companies do send people to interview who know virtually nothing about interviewing.  Would you force your customer to conform to an often dehumanizing and often misleading process to do business with you?  No, but companies do it all the time when hiring.  When companies brand, they seek a unique position and method of interaction with clients, a competitive edge.  So why do these same companies use “me too” methods of recruiting, is not recruiting a competitive area as well?


All these examples point to the short comings that kill a company’s efforts.  Some companies can’t get good talent because of their recruiting, people come out saying it is dehumanizing and word gets out, then you can’t even pay people to talk to you.  How you present your company to the professional communities you recruit from is as much a part of your branding as it is to how you present your company to your clients.  Also, you wouldn’t want to sell your product just like your competitor would you, forcing your customer to conform to “industry standard,” you seek to meet their needs and use that to get more customers.  So the answer is very simple, it comes down to respect coupled with the right focus and you will gain financially from your recruiting process.


Recruiting is like sales and marketing and should be treated as a part of your branding process.  I can take branding metrics and apply them to recruiting and demonstrate just how a bad process actually is costing you money.  If you apply the principles of sales and marketing to recruiting, you’ll see it as a profit producing activity that strengthens the brand and helps you gain top talent. 


The best approach to sales and marketing is to focus on the needs of your market and the client, the same goes with recruiting, focus on the candidate.  I know, some will say “but Edward, I get 10,000 resumes a week, I can’t do that!”  Well you can, because if you are getting 10,000 a week, you doing it wrong.  You have a system that focuses on volume, not quality.  And in branding, it’s all about the quality!  As I mentioned in my last post about HR, how you write ads is the problem, RFP is the way to go!  This thins the pool really quick.  If someone is just passive, they won’t put forth the effort, any one can send a resume, just point and click.  An RFP takes time, knowledge and skill to do.  Only people are serious, interested and skillful will put forth the effort.  I talk about RFP because I come from marketing, this is what we know, if you are recruiting for another area, focus on the method that is most natural for the professionals in that area.  Most of us learned our trade to be good at our trade, we didn’t learn it so we could be expert resume writers.  So stop asking your customer to conform to you, conform to them!  If you do this, you will get much better answers.  Most marketers know how to do an RFP write up or marketing plan, it’s second nature, so if you really want to know their talent, use the method they are most familiar with!  Coke and Pepsi don’t sell only one drink, they don’t just sell soda!  They have water, juice, sport drinks, etc…  Why, they know not everyone likes cola, so they adapt to their market’s needs, it’s the same with recruiting.  Ask for a resume if you are hiring an resume writer, beyond that, find out what is the method of communication used in the target profession and use those channels to reach people you want to hire.  The quality of response will be much greater.


When you target your recruiting as a marketing effort to attract talent, you will gain better results because you are focusing on what is natural to those candidates.  Resumes are out, they never tell you want you really want to know.  If you learn what is used by those professional when they are selling to their clients and use those methods, you’ll learn more.  Ask the people in the department or area in your company, what methods they use, and start from there.  The cost of learning these methods pay for themselves down the road in the process.  And it gives you a competitive advantage that in a world of “me too” recruiting, should be getting you excited.


You could finally break away from the broken system and really engage candidates with what you truly want to know.  Express your passion for what your company does just as you would to client and move beyond the dog and pony show.  The discussion you have with candidates will be more frank and more on target and you will be able to gage who is the right fit much better than you an with the current processes used.

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