February 2009 News Letter

Seven reasons to focus on recruiting in 2009  

I can just hear you:  “Focus on recruiting? In this economy? What are you thinking, Mary?"  And I understand your doubt.

But the truth is, even in these tough economic times, top companies focus on recruiting. 
Let me explain.

Here we are. We're entering the worst recession in more than 30 years and the business landscape has changed. We're seeing downsizing in just about every industry. Companies are restructuring. They're laying off workers and combining jobs. As a result many are shorthanded.
They're facing gaps in their leadership and missing skills among their workers.

Clearly, these changes have triggered a need for all of us to look at what we are doing with our personnel – our Talent Management, if you will.   And a large part of that is Recruiting.

Now I'm not defining recruiting in it's simplest form, that is, hiring.  I'm using the term in a broader sense, because whereas yesterday's recruiters could afford the “if-I-don't-have-a-job-to-fill-I'm-not-talking-to-you” approach to recruiting (hiring), today's top recruiters have found they need to be masters at the entire recruiting process.

  • That rather than simply hiring, they have to concentrate on sourcing, which means they are focusing on building and strengthening their talent pool.
  • That as the volume of resumes increase, they have to improve recruiting efficiency and expertise. Knowing where to look, what to look for and what to avoid is essential.

Indeed great recruiters today have recognized the mind shift this economy has engendered.  And they realize they must get their ducks in a row now, so that when the economy turns around, they'll be ready to rumble.

So here, as promised — and at long last — are seven reasons you should focus on recruiting:

1.  To reduce the risk of “deteriorating engagement” and increased turnover - Studies show that deteriorating engagement and voluntary turnover rear up to whack companies going through downsizing.

In short, employees who survive the layoff, feel less committed to the company and its turnaround attempts. Good people, realizing they could be next to go, for example, start looking around for jobs. Others lay low hoping that by hiding they'll avoid the next round of cuts. As a result, the employee moves into “survival mode” focusing on their own self-interest and the company likely suffers the lack of engagement necessary to get back on track.

With a strong team, however, you can handle layoffs carefully, communicate a well-thought-out strategy that minimizes fear amongst your workforce and bring people together to execute your plan.

2.  To effectively recruit “internally” due to restructuring - When a company downsizes, restructures or reorganizes, employees must assume new roles.

If you simply “assign” people to new positions, you risk losing their enthusiasm and commitment.  Why is that?  Often the approach results in employees experiencing work overload, lack of confidence/skills to perform new functions, lack of participation in “choice” regarding new responsibilities and lack of understanding for the restructure initiative altogether. 

Professionally recruit them for these jobs as you would with any open/new position.  Your initiatives will result in better-prepared and excited employees, and much better outcomes.

3.  To fill shortages in the “skills and leadership” you need - In boom times, you need effective leaders and highly skilled workers. You need them even more during an economic slowdown, when your organization must stay on its strategic course to compete.

If you're short-handed in the skills and leadership department, you need to identify and select the best candidates to fill these shortages. This is not the time to cut budgets for those critical development needs.   

4.  To bring in “new” talent and “new” ideas - In an economic downturn, we want our people committed to restructuring and growth. We ask them to take on new roles, work longer hours and often lead change in new and challenging programs.

One way to build enthusiasm in this situation is to bring new people into key roles. Indeed, the right people can create the excitement and urgency needed to succeed.  If you lack this talent, how can you afford “not” to look outside?

5.  To maintain (build or re-build) a strong recruiting team - You need strong recruiters to convince top people that your job deserves serious consideration. Without good recruiters, you'll just hire mediocre talent at best.

Therefore, instead of cutting back, I suggest you maintain or, if necessary, rebuild your recruiting department with skilled, knowledgeable, well-trained recruiters. In that way, as soon as you see the economy changing direction, you'll have the staff to hire the very best people.

6.  To get a head start on your competition - If you can't see your way clear to hiring now, you should at least start the hiring process.

Get the best people into your prospect database. That way you will avoid the rush to find and hire above-average people when the economic crisis breaks.

Wait for recovery, on the other hand, and it may well be too late.

7.  To ensure the “right” person for the job is for the “right” reason - In a down economy, you will find more aggressive job seekers.  And as counter intuitive as it seems, you also might find that your pool of “highly qualified” candidates have been diminished; in tough times top candidates, uncertain of what the near future holds, tend to hunker down.

Whether encountering aggressive job seekers or a diminished candidate pool, you and your managers will need to screen carefully.  The playing field has changed and thus the approach to screening will require a new game plan.  

Take the case of more aggressive job seekers. (By this I mean having more applicants for your positions and a higher-than-normal job acceptance rate.) In this circumstance, you and your managers will need to screen carefully. Which candidates, in truth, fit your organization? Which are desperate to find a job?

When your candidate pool has dwindled, on the other hand, your task becomes a time-consuming one of finding and attracting highly qualified people for your job.

So here's the bottom line: Even though we're in a down economy, concentrate on recruiting to support your Talent Management initiatives.


Tip of the month: Three things to do to prepare for the hiring recovery  

So now you have reasons to focus on recruiting. But what should you do – where should you start? Here are three steps you can take to be ready to hire the best people as soon as there's evidence the economy is about to change direction.

Forecast your workforce needs
Your first step is to prepare a mini workforce plan. In other words, rather than concentrate on all your hiring needs, forecast your most important needs for the next 12 months. Then update this forecast quarterly. 

In making this forecast, ask: Who is critical to our success? Which job classes drive our business? 
Create talent communities
Attract qualified people to your company by developing an online community of prospects for your future opportunities.  Social networking such as LinkedIn is a great resource for this.  

Your goal is to attract people not actively looking but open-minded; people interested in a class of jobs, rather than a specific job.  Once you have a list, you will need to nurture these people along using candidate relationship managed tools, or e-mail, chats and other touch points.

Build a solid recruitment team
You don't just want to recruit. You want to recruit the best. Therefore you need a team of well-trained recruiters (whether that's in-house or outsourced).

Recruiting top people is essentially different from hiring average people. It is a sales process. One that requires selling complex intangibles, services and solutions. It means meeting quotas and abiding by numbers. It takes people who can follow a prescribed sales process.

And today, it helps to have tech savvy recruiters. Technology can help you separate good from bad prospects and candidates.

Your Solution Toolbox: The right fit for your needs

HR Consulting
For many organizations, the next step is to seek professional assistance to find out how to improve the effectiveness of your recruitment process.  Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. 

Profiles XT ensures job fit
You have a number of job candidates. On paper they look good. And they all interviewed equally well. How, then, will you know which best fits your company and job?

That's a great question. Let me answer it with a few words:  Profile International's assessment tools particularly the Profile XT™.  Job success begins with a good fit, and you can ensure that new employees work where they belong in your organization with Profile International's assessment tools.  ProfileXT™ measures job-related qualities that make people productive. It looks at thinking and reasoning styles, behavioral traits and occupational interests.

MG Assessments has added a blog that will make our site more informative and interactive.  See my blog: Updated regularly will focus on the hottest Human Resource Issues.

Call me at 952-322-3330 if you have questions about HR Consulting Services or any of Profiles’ products. Or, alternatively, send an e-mail to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

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