14 December 2010

Rely on the shop or grow your own?

Last week I read with interest, an article on Recruiter Daily about candidate segmentation.

The article details the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tactics recommended by two consultants who work for a recruitment outsource provider on-site at Ernst & Young, one of the ‘Big 4' accounting firms.

The article got my attention as providing an excellent example of how dramatically different the new approach to recruiting is to the old approach.

Simply put, the old approach is this; start looking for placeable, active candidates when you have a job, ignore those candidates that are not looking for a job right now then stop looking for, and communicating to, those active candidates when you have filled the job.

The new approach is this; look for excellent candidates all the time (regardless of their current job search status), build a relationship with them over time, never stop looking for new candidates and never stop communicating with, and demonstrating your value to, existing candidates.

The old approach is like going to the shop to buy your fruit and vegetables; you don't have to invest any time before you actually need the produce but when you do need the produce you are at the mercy of market forces with respect to what produce is available, at what quality, at what outlet, at what time and at what price.

The new approach is like growing your own fruit and vegetables; you invest time, money and hard work well in advance of your produce needs but once you have done the hard yards up front, you have a much, much higher level of control over availability, quality, and access to this produce. And of course there is no monetary price you have to pay at the time of your need.

For years recruiters have been content to just ‘go to the shop' for candidates. Growing their own didn't seem worth it.

Now things are very different.

Recruiters are finding the fruit and vegetables at the shop are of inconsistent quality, highly priced and frequently unavailable when needed.

Home grown is suddenly looking a lot more attractive than it once was.

However recruiters have traditionally been very short of the required skills and patience in the consistent tasks of planting, watering and nurturing the garden.

In the world of recruiters the planting, watering and nurturing tasks consist of such things as:
·         Mapping the market for your target candidates
·         Learning how to use the internet effectively to source candidate details
·         Writing a blog post/newsletter article
·         Commenting on someone else's blog post or article
·         Expanding your LinkedIn contacts
·         Being active on Twitter
·         Being in contact with existing candidates even though you don't have a job to talk to them about right now
·         Initiating and building relationships with suppliers
·         Starting and leading a LinkedIn group
·         Having a coffee with an industry influencer, even though they don't recruit
·         Re-contacting all your currently inactive top candidates interviewed in the past 2 years
·         Role playing the handling of candidate expectations with respect to jobs and remuneration
·         Attending an interesting professional development event even though you can't see its direct relevance to finding more top candidates
·         Sending a hand written thank you note to someone who did you a professional favour, even though it didn't lead to any new business
·         Reading articles about your target candidate market

Over the years, recruiters have been conditioned by most recruitment agency owners and managers, to think in terms of the shortest distance between two points - the two points being the recruiter and a fillable job or a placeable candidate.

Putting it in terms I used earlier - we have been encouraged to ‘go to the shop' rather than ‘grow our own'.

‘Growing our own', typically has been seen by our industry as a luxury or something to be done when there is ‘time to do it'.

Maybe in the past, but not anymore.

If you just want to be a resume-referring job filler, then please don't invest any of your time in ‘growing your own'.

If, on the other hand, you want to be known as a genuine recruitment consultant who is an acknowledged expert in their niche market and who finds top talent consistently, then I would suggest you start investing at significant amount of time in doing the things necessary to ‘grow your own' (such as those listed above).

Investing in ‘growing your own', where there is an uncertain pay-off (bumper crop or wipeout) in an unknown timeframe, takes confidence, skill, patience and courage.

Do you have those attributes?

What would it take for you to acquire that confidence, skill, patience and courage?

What difference could this new approach make to your reputation, fees and job enjoyment by December 2011?

4 comments:

  1. Martin Warren14/12/10 7:35 PM

    Ross what a great blog post!

    Some Internal recruitment functions are now starting to do as you recommend 'grow your own talent' engage with them and share relevant information that will create stickiness and build a relationship over time by applying targeted CRM tactics.

    The key point I would like to make is this is a different group of competencies recruiters whether internal or agency need to 'grow your own'. What I see recruiters have become very use to dealing with active candidates and feel totally out of their comfort sone if they need to target or engage passive candidates.

    If I was their client I would want to make sure the recruiter I engage is covering the market and able to present to me the best talent in the market whether they ate an internal recruiter or agency recruiter.

    With networks such as LinkedIn and others engaging a candidate you identify here is not a cold call, you have already incoming information about this person.

    The other points I would make are:

    1. Recruiters whether internal or agency not enough training and investment in being put in place to build the competencies and confidences to be able to engage with passive candidates

    2. You need to have a plan when engaging passive candidates. Recruiters are generally very good and understanding and probing to determine candidates capability against the required criteria but want I believe recruiters are not doing well is understanding the organizations employer value proposition or how can can present it leaving the passive candidate wanting more or at least understanding and eliciting the candidates value proposition

    Until more development is invested into recruiters then only some will discover and see the need to 'grow your own'

    Internal functions are ahead of there agency counterparts in this area but I'm sure as an internal recruiter can engage an agency recruiter that knows there market, clearly demonstrates by their actions that they can and do 'grow your own' then they will be seen as an industry leader and a business partner in the true sense!

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  2. Bernard Morrison15/12/10 5:39 AM

    The difference between the 'shopping' recruiter and the 'grow your own' recruiter is best exposed by the names on the shortlist.
    Particularly in a contingent role, the 'shopping' recruiters will present many of the same names. The 'grow your own' recruiters will impress clients by sourcing the best qualified, yet previously-hidden talent.

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  3. The biggest obstacle with the 'grow your own' scenario is that by the time you have planted any seeds you would have already been fired for not making any placements.

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  4. Great article. I always enjoy reading your different approaches towards the market.

    I agree with many points you have made. For instance I invested a few years to expand my linked in network (not just the quantity but also the quality). It was like a part-time job for me and now I have around 14,000 direct connections and I am at a stage now where every week I get 100 invitations.

    What I can say however is that the business of headhunting is highly outcome driven. While process matters, often you don't get paid for process and I think it is this reason why many people have invested time finding candidates when they need them (the point that Anonymous has made above). I personally have managed to find a balance between the two to meet my goals while I maintain my relationships and map the market as well.

    In regards to the CRM methodologies and talent management, it seems these days everyone thinks that they have it figured out. I could be wrong but I personally think companies that were making people redundant by the dozens until not too long ago aren't best placed to talk about talent management. Finding talent is easy. It is getting them to sign up with the new company that is the hard part which is why best talent management starts with the reputation of the firm before anything else.

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