The Secret to Improving Recruiting Success

I have turned around the recruiting functions of several organizations in my career, and then rapidly hired hundreds of workers. While branding, interviewing skills, career fairs, astute competency identification, assessments, wise use of social media, and skill/ job matching software were all important, they weren’t the real secret of my success. My success was due to thinking of recruiting as a repeatable, high volume process, and then managing it as one.

Like any high volume, repeatable process, recruiting requires focus on the client (your organization’s management) and the target audience (the talent you want to hire). Successful recruiting requires clearly defined process steps and role clarity. It also needs supportive and user-friendly technology that allows organizations to collect measure progress and conduct and measure analytics.

The first step in improving your recruiting process is for executives to take on a talent mindset and own it.  Some of the best brands and recruiting companies in the world, such as Google, will tell you that “Hiring is the most important thing managers do.”[i]  To be successful, you need to realize that the recruiting process goes way beyond human resources and the hiring manger. Recruiting requires the dedication of your best marketing and IT resources, and the role clarity and efficiency of your best manufacturing and supply chain processes.

While top management needs to own recruiting, HR needs to shepherd it and provide expertise. HR should find and use the best screening techniques and assessments, and the technology for social media outreach as well as applicant tracking, and onboarding. HR needs to require training for interviewers and insist on respectful experiences for job candidates.

Here’s how to get started:

Like any major business strategy, recruiting needs a plan, a workforce plan. Begin with the goals and strategies of the organization. How much growth is expected? Are new technologies, enterprise processes, or business models being introduced? What new employee skill sets are required? Will new workers feel comfortable in the company’s current work environment, or will they require change? How do you reach the workers you need? I recommend that human resources work closely with business leaders and finance to put a plan in place that identifies the number of forecasted hires, attrition replacements, required skills, and the environment necessary to make new workers comfortable.

What do the current recruiting measures and metrics indicate? Many organizations I speak with track only rudimentary recruiting measures, such as time-to-fill requisitions and annual turnover. That is inadequate. Would you run a factory for a heart stent or semiconductors based only on through-put time and scrap and rework?  No! Like any high volume process, recruiting needs to have predictive measures by each sub-process. Examples include: the percentage of job postings that are not changed after being posted due to inaccurate job requirements or certifications, the time it takes hiring managers to review resumes screened by human resources, the percentage of job candidates who accept invitations for interviews or take assessment tests, how long it takes to generate an offer, offer acceptance rates, and which recruiting source produces the most hired job candidates. The process also needs analytics to determine that there is no bias against protected groups and that the screening criteria are effective.

Next, identify recruiting processes:

  1. Workforce planning – (briefly described above)
  2. Clear definition of roles – Well-defined roles enable speed and agility. Define the roles of the recruiter, scheduler (often the missing link in many high volume recruiting processes), manager, interviewing team, decision-maker and offer generator. Also define how applicant tracking platforms, job skill matching software and other search or social media technologies will be used.
  3. Search planning – Plan the search process, including: budget, strategy, and how you will identify and attract candidates, especially passive candidates. Many recruiting processes zip by this step, which is like driving to a location for the first time without getting directions. If you don’t know where you are going and the best way to get there, you will probably get lost, or end up taking more time than necessary.
  4. Sourcing, screening and referral of top candidates – You need to act quickly to identify, attract, recruit and screen candidates. I find it helpful when recruiters provide a half page summary outlining why a candidate is qualified, rather than just a resume. I often recommend a checklist against the position criteria. Mangers need to respond quickly, by an agreed to deadline.
  5. Making effective use of phone screens, videoconference interviews, and initial assessments – Take advantage of these tools to screen candidates before candidates are presented to the hiring manager and interviewing team. This step in the process should move quickly and be measured in days.
  6. On-site interviews – These ought to be seamless, and job candidates should feel valued and welcome. No waiting in the reception room for 45 minutes, and no dropouts from the interviewing team. Everyone on the interviewing team should have gone through interviewing training first. Be sure to use assessments that guide interviewers through which issues to dive into to gather accurate insights.
  7. Decision-making – A hiring decision should be made quickly, within a day after the last candidate is interviewed. You’ll want to ensure that the process has gathered the necessary information to make a good decision. If something is found lacking, correct your process real time.
  8. Offer making – Again, be quick, agile and track results.

Is your recruiting process up to the standards of other high volume, repeatable processes in your organization? Join the discussion.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and is a Managing Partner of InnovationOne. He consults on talent management, leadership development and coaching, innovation, and other strategic initiatives. Please e-mail Victor at or For innovation visit www.InnovationOne.US.

[i] Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. (2014) How Google Works. Grand Central Publishing, New York

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