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It is better
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John Sumser

is more
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John Gall


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What Is Recruiting?

(August 05, 2004) - Recruiting is the organizational function responsible for acquiring new and replacement Human Capital. Although the final approval for a specific new hire rests with a local hiring manager, the Recruiting/Staffing organization provides various levels of decision support and information processing. While the hiring manager holds all of the risk (new hire performance is rarely tracked back to the Recruiter), the Recruiter usually provides all of the information and decision support. From administrivia (EEO compliance reporting and background checking) to initial screening and qualifications assessment, the Recruiter feeds the hiring manager a flow of data.

In other words, hiring is a line function while Recruiting is a staff operation.

The Recruiter plays a powerful role in the organization. It is disproportionate to the simple line-staff distinction. Since the Recruiter is usually a new hire's first and deepest connection with the organization, the Recruiter plays a gate-keeping function. Expectations, beliefs and first impressions are a powerful subset of the Recruiter's stream of value delivery. In many ways, the Recruiting operation is an essential definition of the company's culture. The new employee's relationship with the firm begins with her interaction with a Recruiter.

One widely held but quietly spoken view is that a Recruiter can only be effective with people who are at or under the same pay grade. So much of the Recruiter's job is representing the company that subtle distinctions in fashion, education, neighborhood, values, language and other status differentiators can profoundly affect the outcome of a Recruiting transaction. There is a solid reason that Executive Recruiters (in third party houses) are among the best paid people in our culture. The only people who make more money than they do are the people they place. They live in the same zip codes as the people they place. When Recruiter's pay is significantly below the people they are placing, the company is on a downward spiral.

It is easy to view the Recruiting profession as a set of administrative functions. It's also a tragic mistake. For the most part, the administrative detail is driven by four factors: Regulatory reporting, internal coordination, candidate data flow and the logistics of moving candidates through the system (interviews, offers, etc.). Juggling the appointments of several dozen candidates and the respective interview teams is enough headache for a fairly seasoned coordinator. Getting the admin right is important. More important, however, is improving the judgment of each individual Recruiter (and therefore the quality of the output)

Good Recruiters become great through intensive training (although there are some aspects of judgment that seem to be gifts). In the third party staffing industry, it is not uncommon for a new Recruiter to be apprenticed to an 'ace' for as long as a year. Learning to read between the lines of a resume and make optimal fit assessments are best learned through guided trial and error. Immediate and rapid feedback on incremental (small) decisions appears to be the best way to train Recruiters to do things in a particular company style. In these settings, the turnover rate is high. That is due, in part, to the level of attention that must be paid to the details.

In an in-house setting, we find that training takes as much as 20% of the department's time. Of course, this depends on the quality of the new Recruiters. Turning an administrative wonder into an effective recruiter is a painstaking bit of custom design.

In the final analysis, whether or not the system understands, the Recruiting team is the difference between spiraling costs and improving quality. Skimping on Recruiting budgets makes as little sense as choosing an investment firm based exclusively on the cost of the fees. While some people are so capable at managing their own financial portfolio (say, ex-brokers), many need seasoned management experience from their broker. Like any good thing, it doesn't come cheap.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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