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Sourcing Ahead of Demand

(April 13, 2006)  For a decade now, we've been championing the cause of just in time staffing (here, here, here). For instance:

Everywhere we look, we see solutions that propose to reduce the recruiting cycle towards zero. Every system we review  is reactive and administrative which means that the best possible performance is to thin the timeline to a week or so. Given the marketplace pace, this means that huge numbers of potential employees will continue to fall through the net.

Our conclusion? The objectives are wrong. Like a Just In Time Inventory system, the design of Recruiting solutions should focus on an objective of having candidates available 30 days in advance of the requirement, not a week to 60 days afterwards.

This notion, which we're fondly calling "Minus 30", demands a fundamental rethinking of the problem. In order to discover candidates in advance of requirements, the first move is an understanding of the evolution of hiring requirements within the organization. At the same time, data mining techniques need to be used to uncover indications of the likelihood of a shift.

For instance, at the entry level, the first indication of pending availability is college selection or the declaration of a major. Interestingly, much of this behavior is observable since many universities organize student web pages by department.

Alternatively, the death of a parent, the purchase of a home or car, the acquisition of a new computer, the birth of child, a 40th birthday, rapidly increasing real estate values in a particular zip code, sales of certain books by zip code (available from Amazon!) and other major and minor life events are all indications of pending availability and the statistical likelihood that candidates will emerge in a particular region.

The tools required to produce candidates in advance of formal availability also include the mining of existing resume databases. We recently heard the story of a highly successful staffing operation who improved their inventory production in a significant way by assigning all recruiters the task of scoring historical resumes. Once the database was complete (and it took a while to evaluate all 200,000), the company was able to predict the availability of candidates who had applied three or four years ago.

The combination of advance planning and availability surveillance, both made possible by currently available online data, should produce systems that drive the recruiting cycle time below zero days. While more difficult to achieve in small organizations, the repetitive nature of big company recruiting problems makes the task extremely similar to good inventory and distribution management. Once "Minus 30" is achieved, figuring out who bears the inventory carrying costs will be the next frontier.
(Electronic Recruiting News: April 27, 2000)

The reactive stance of most recruiting operations prevents the movement to total quality solutions. If you are measured against a ticking clock, you must focus on speed. Sadly, speed is the enemy of thoughtful relationship and well implemented team building. You can not be on the offense when you constantly play defense.

The culture of HR, appropriately defensive, infects some of our best recruiting teams with a positive appraisal of bad management. The long sought "seat at the table" always goes to folks who champion and execute innovative ideas. You simply can not innovate from a position of reaction.

It's time to review the idea of sourcing ahead of demand.

Revisiting The Job Board:

 John Sumser . - .  Permalink . - . Today's Bugler

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