21 February 2012

Defensive recruitment skills: overlooked and underrated

The stereotype agency recruiter is a fast-talking, cold calling, aggressive hunter. They make things happen by finding vacancies and filling them quickly.

These skills are what I would call ‘offensive' skills and activities. These are the skills of attack, where a recruiter is focused on finding opportunities, leveraging those opportunities and closing those opportunities. These skills are highly visible, valued and much sought-after. 

Compare these skills to the opposite sort of skills and activities - defensive skills and activities. These are necessary for a recruiter to ensure that profitable opportunities don't become less profitable or unprofitable ones. Examples being; reference checking, award compliance, OH&S compliance, signed terms of business, returning calls, updating the database and pro-active calling of temps during their assignment - to name just a handful. All are not very visible, not greatly valued nor greatly sought after. 

Rarely, on their own, do any of these defensive activities generate a job or a placement, yet becoming a consistent high performing recruiter is impossible to accomplish without these defensive skills and activities because too many things would ‘fall between the cracks'. 

An example of this was highlighted last week by industry news service, ShortList. 

A Victorian recruitment company has had its 457 labour agreement revoked by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. 

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen announced this afternoon that, for the first time ever, DIAC had terminated a labour hire company's right to recruit and sponsor 457 visa holders, as a result of breaches of its agreement with Government. 

Bowen said the labour hire company was found to be employing its 457 workers on a casual basis, underpaying them, and providing false and misleading information to DIAC.' 

Clearly this is a case of defensive activities being ignored or defensive skills being deficient or a combination of both. Whatever the cause, that agency (name withheld by the DIAC but subsequently published by ShortList) has paid a hefty price. 

The importance of defensive skills can be seen in examining the playing record of one of the globe's most feted athletes: Michael Jordan. 

Jordan has rightly been lauded as one of the best-ever athletes in any sport. Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include six championships with the Chicago Bulls, five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations and six NBA Finals MVP awards. 

Ask a normal sports fan what Jordan was so famous for and they would undoubtedly mention his prodigious scoring record (ten scoring titles). Ask a basketball fanatic the same question and they would also mention his incredible defensive skills (nine All-Defensive First Team honors and 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award). 

Without question, Michael Jordan would never have scaled the same heights of fame and accomplishment if he didn't possess an elite set of defensive basketball skills. 

How important do you think defensive recruitment skills are? And how good and consistent are yours? 

Here's a hint - look at what you call ‘admin'. 

If that ‘admin' is really a whole bunch of defensive activities then I suspect you don't attach enough importance to those activities, nor do you have the level of skill (care?) you should have to do those activities consistently to a high standard. 

This is a very big missed opportunity. 

As the recent 457 Visa case demonstrates, there are significant consequences for individual recruiters and/or recruitment agencies who do the wrong thing (either knowingly or unknowingly). 

It's time for every recruiter to take stock of their own defensive skills and for every recruitment agency owner and leader to ensure they know (rather than assume) the effectiveness of their team's defence. 

Related articles
Recruitment Database Crimes - Chapters 1 to 14

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