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Mistakes to Avoid in Talent Acquisition (TA) Set Up

In my 15 years in the Recruiting Industry, I have often been brought in after some of these events have transpired and my observations for their causes is based on those instances. As always, these opinions are my own.

1. Investment in Too Many Tools: Companies deciding to invest in their internal TA teams have a tendency to sign up for as many sourcing tool subscriptions as possible. If you are a federal integrator, regardless of size, Clearancejobs is a good foundational tool and needed – but could be useful and less expensive. What I have seen for most commercial companies is heavy investment in LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter – which are all expensive and really require due diligence on the skill sets of your recruiters. For example: If you hire someone who previously filled most of their positions through LinkedIn – invest in LinkedIn, and save the rest of the subscriptions for the strengths of other recruiters you add to the team. Most of the reps for these tools are flexible and allow for customization based on team needs, I would advise to leverage the most out of that flexibility to reduce annual costs and add flexibility.

2. Lack of Formalized Metrics: This is a tricky one because in my experience, most corporate companies set up their TA/Recruiting teams on strong base salaries, with the potential for a bonus (usually team or company-based) – thus measuring the performance of these teams is difficult. What is good? ‘Positions that get filled in a timely manner’ is the typical refrain from executives. Corporate recruiters, on average, change jobs every 2-3 years – and most internal recruiter turnover is through M&A activity/redundancy or voluntary resignation, according to Builtin’s Feb 2020 Article Forty Employee Turnover Statistics to Know. Companies should not look to fire people, but very few have activity metrics and standards in place to recognize poor performance – or gauge excellent performance for that matter. Metrics like Time to Fill, Weekly Phone Screens, Submittals per Position, Submittals per Hire and others should at least be measured, and as your team matures, can be standardized as expectations. Remember – what gets measured, gets done.

3. Lack of Manager Accountability: This is single biggest reason why good recruiters quit, apart from salary and commute. When it is your job to fill positions, and the people responsible for determining if you have done a good job or not are inaccessible or unclear on their requirements for extended periods of time, who can blame them? Recruiting lives and dies by clear, qualified requirements and quick feedback – both obtained by direct Manager access and their subsequent accountability. Managers and Companies who cannot or will not provide those two necessities will turn over recruiters at a good clip – Builtin’s Feb 2020 Turnover article is prescient here: 77% of all employees cite ‘bad managers’ as their reason for leaving, for recruiters this means bad Hiring Managers. My advice is to have any new TA/Recruiter make the rounds completely to any Manager they would support and develop relationships with them. That is their job. The Company’s job is to listen to the feedback of their recruiter and hold the Managers accountable to supporting their business partners in TA. If a Company aligns recruiters to specific business units, this is even more powerful.

4. Hiring an HR Manager to run TA: While professionals with corporate HR experience are certainly valuable and essential to the needs of companies of all sizes, often they are hired to execute functions within internal recruiting or manage the internal TA department. SHRM reports in their annual FTE Talent Acquisition Report from 2019 that HR Generalist is the position title recruiting 60% of company openings, with an average of 33 positions on their plate. For companies that are flooded with technical candidates constantly, this approach can work at least short term. However, what companies sometimes find is that the responsibilities and skill sets required to develop a strong internal recruiting function may not be a strength of HR-specific professionals. Most managers (of any discipline) tend to hire people who are like them, and soon the internal TA department might be full of great people who aren’t closing the real ‘rockstars’ in the market. These are found by Hunters, who understand the competitive nature of the market, seek out the truly difficult skill set candidates and attract them to your company. Davis Laine can help you train Hunters, as they are made and not born. My advice is to establish a separate TA/Recruiting function, led by a Hunter, who will hire other Hunters, with formal support from HR, as it does for other Company business units.

5. Misalignment of Skill Sets for Recruiter Candidates: Depending on the needs of the Company, you might require different skill sets from recruiting candidates at different times, but not realize it. Most Companies believe they require the same skill set, all the time. Example: Your Company is planning to launch a high-profile product and the need for highly skilled emerging technology engineers is paramount. You will be competing in the market for the same people that Google, Facebook and AWS seek. Hiring someone who worked at Google, Facebook or AWS is exactly what Companies think they should do. But they might be making a big mistake. The influx of candidates and titanic spend campaigns for internal recruiting those companies drive typically turns their recruiters into Farmers, not Hunters. They are (typically) inbound, and not outbound recruiters – though a few I know are very good at both. This is not to say being a ‘Farmer’ recruiter at Google is a bad thing, it is perfect for those companies - but could be terrible for your Company. Instead, try to source recruiting candidates from recruiting firms first – though beware of the ones who did not do well at all (Check References!). Then, identify a few companies that recently went through the same ‘war for talent’ as your company is about to do, and begin contacting their recruiters to see if there is interest. I have found a quick analysis of where the company is at present, and where it needs to go in the next 12 months can guide the sourcing and subsequent selection process, regardless of when the opening is created.

Society of Human Resources Management, SHRM – IT FTE TA Report 11/11/2019

Heinz, Kate, on behalf of Forty Employee Turnover Statistics to Know, Feb 24, 2020, Updated Jan 12, 2021.

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