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Recruitment not working?

Optimize Blog - September 22, 2011 - 0 comments

Recent research indicates that even the very best employment advertising is viewed by less than ten percent of suitably qualified candidates. Furthermore, the response rate of these suitable applicants is a damning 1%.   When hiring for senior positions, the statistics are even worse.
Clearly these figures are representative of a systemic failure of ‘the standard’ approach to recruitment, but how can this actually happen?  By way of illustration, we conducted a straw poll of 100 senior leaders in a variety of industry sectors and asked them a simple question… “How up to date is your resume?”
In reality, we expected the majority to say that their resume was at least moderately out of date but we were surprised to hear that over 70% of the senior leaders questioned don’t even have a resume and, in fact, they don’t recall the last time they responded to a career advertisement. 
Ask those same individuals if they were seeking to attract another senior leader to their organization what might a benchmark profile look like, and they will usually refer to one of the existing leadership group.
So what? Well, this means that in reality the person you really want to hire is not actually seeking a new role and is almost certainly not looking at your ad online or in the newspaper, no matter how nice, big, or expensive it is.
Let’s assume that you’ve reached the point where you have decided to hire a recruitment firm.  Your research into the many companies available should result in a fairly rapid realization that the majority of firms base their business models on an extension of the advertising model, supported by an extensive database of applicant resumes.
However, we’ve already established that virtually none of the leadership team has a resume registered with anyone and, if they did, they are not at this point interested in “other opportunities”.  Many of the larger retained firms do work hard to maintain an extensive network of contacts but, if that was exhaustive, we would never see recruitment firms advertising.
The approach to recruitment projects has evolved over the years but the majority of projects are still defined by senior management before being delegated, usually to an internally focused human resources department.
The problem here is that the human resource profession has been the primary contributor to the development of data management systems which are designed to generate, sort and screen resumes; a system which is shared by the majority of recruitment firms.  While these systems have proven effective in surplus markets, they have no place where critical, qualified, resources are known to be in deficit.  The caliber and quantity of options are negatively impacted and business objectives compromised.
The thing is that critical and strategic recruitment initiatives need to be just that – critical and strategic.
A recruitment project needs to be managed in similar fashion to a major business development initiative.  The target market needs to be exhaustively researched to identify information that can be utilized in the development of an acquisition plan.  The recruitment ROI (the fiscal return that should be achieved as a direct result of recruiting the ‘ideal’ individual) also needs to be determined.  Once all the viable targets have been assessed, the “ideal” options can be professionally introduced to a market aligned business plan with clearly defined contribution and benefit points that represent a logical career transition and professional acceleration opportunity.
We must acknowledge that no one voluntarily changes employment without significant expectation of improvement.  Those performing at a high level are typically receiving the professional and financial recognition to keep them engaged and unlikely to seriously consider casually presented options.  While there are definitely exceptions, they are just that, exceptions, and most business leaders would not want to base their business’s future on that.
This commentary is certainly based on current market conditions but, based on the demographics alone, available and accessible talent is expected to decrease for the foreseeable future.  Those organizations which are first to recognize that they are not the “buyer” in this market and who develop programs to define, pursue and acquire the caliber of talent essential to long term business growth, will be the ones to prosper.
This week’s guest blogger is leading human capital strategist, Mike Palmer.
Mike is a partner with Chapman & Associates, a human capital consultancy which supports clients with business intelligence, counter measure strategies and aligned advisory services to establish the ‘acquisition of expertise’ as their competitive advantage.  Mike can be reached at

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