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by Stuart Neil | March 31, 2009


Look at the classifieds any Sunday or go online, and you'll find a preponderance of jobs "begging" to be filled. It is no small wonder that most HR professionals conclude that there aren't enough qualified individuals to fill their open positions, and in certain cases they're right. However, the fault doesn't always lie with a mere labor shortage. It often lies with the inability of recruitment staffs (both Internal and external) to see the whole picture.

Recruitment strategies are exactly that, a strategy to recruit the best possible candidates and future employees for a company, regardless of the industry. Recruitment and hiring processes require the same attention to detail as other aspects of running a successful business. The placement of a classified employment advertisement is just the beginning of the recruitment process for both the candidate and company. The purpose of such advertisements is to evoke interest and to see what the candidate and company have in common, ultimately resulting in an in-depth interview.

I have found that many businesses fail to pay attention to their second most important asset (after their clients) -- their employees. It begins with the recruitment process. The development of a recruitment strategy requires employers to have a broad concept regarding a number of factors that would enhance their ability to recruit, and most importantly, retain, high quality employees. It means a true commitment (time included) by the company's key representatives to make the dollars expended result in a return on investment. The recruitment process is a partnering of communication, dialogues that flow in a variety of directions. Recognizing labor constraints and the fact that industries are vying for similar skill sets and accurate time lines requires a "hands on" approach by all those who are involved in the recruitment process or will be affected by it. This includes everyone from the HR/staffing department to the supervisor, and, in some cases, team or project members at all stages of the process. ~The most important qualifications involved in recruitment are not necessarily those of the candidate, but those of the individuals with responsibility for directing the recruitment strategy. To succeed, all individual roles need to be defined and feedback must be provided through a 360-degree flow of information. Putting aside the need to conduct a legal interview, the key point is for the individual reviewing resumes and contacting candidates to have an in-depth knowledge of what the job entails. This means not just a "job description overview" or a "skills assessment," but the savvy to explain all aspects of what the candidate's responsibilities will be and how he or she can be successful and add value to the company. This requires working with individual department heads and hiring authorities to determine what their specific criteria needs are. It may be as simple as rank ordering the skills required, based on present and future needs, or determining that certain desired skills may be obtained while on the job. These preliminary contacts are crucial to the success of defining the needs of a company and finding the skills needed in a candidate.

Second, for staffing to be successful, all those involved should possess knowledge of their company's role in their respective industry. This includes the ability to communicate the "type" of management style found within its culture, up to and including the benefits provided, from the myriad of health and welfare programs to educational assistance. Anyone can hand out a brochure, but providing a broad prospective to candidates conveys the importance the company places on providing employee benefits and programs that enhance the work atmosphere and how it chooses to reward productivity. The recruitment process should be summarized in relation to the time the entire process will take, including follow-up steps (the 5 W's & H) and orientation and training programs that can be expected. How well this process is communicated to candidates, even those not chosen, provides a positive view of the company, making HR a partner to PR. ~Third, and most difficult, is the ability of key personnel to overcome predetermined concepts of what an "ideal candidate" should be. Some of these impediments, though far from exclusive, relate to compensation (either historical or projected), age and gender, and, most importantly, the ability to recognize transferable skills derived in different industries. Artificial barriers severely impact on an organization's recruitment program and inevitably add precious time to the process. All those involved must start thinking "out of the box," particularly when their individual preferences have nothing to do with successful job performance. An organization may recognize that there are specific characteristics that are shared among those who are successful in a given field of endeavor, but it tends to rely on "intuition" in regard to those traits, instead of taking the time to define what is needed in a recruitment strategy. By communicating those needs throughout the recruitment process, a collaborative management style allows for a larger picture to develop regarding the type of employee that is being sought and it allows for a simplification of the entire process.

A successful recruitment strategy must be approached as a marketing strategy, and should be as well planned as one. A strong commitment of resources by all involved to develop excellent lines of internal and external communication, predetermined guidelines for all participants, and established time and review parameters, bring an added value to the company through a cost-effective hiring and retention process. The results found in long term employment relationships reduce the time and energy needed in recruitment, time and energy that in most cases could be redirected to other positive employee issues.

Stuart Neil has a B.A. from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and an M.A. from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. He has been a teacher/instructor on both the secondary and college levels. Mr. Neil has experience across a variety of HR roles, including: Director of a quasi-governmental agency, Personnel administrator, Director of Human Resources, Employee Relations Director, HR Project Director and Consultant with Interact HR.


Filed Under: Job Search

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