OK, I admit it: the titles of my posts tend to be a bit on the cheeky side, and this one is no exception. But while at first glance some may think I’ve gone too far this time, the fact is that I’m frustrated in that some people within the Talent Acquisition space continue doing things the same way because “that’s how they’ve always been done.” Don’t get me wrong, there are some real innovators among us. But by and large, little continues to evolve.
One example of this is how HR and Talent Acquisition leaders deal with increasing hiring volumes and overcapacity among their recruiters. As is often the case and the easiest path taken, their precious budget is used to hire more recruiters with the expectation is that all will be solved. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
However, what if there were multiple ways to address hiring volume issues, improve candidate engagement, improve an organization’s brand – both in the marketplace and among candidates – and fill open roles sooner; and all while maintaining (not increasing!) the current Talent Acquisition budget? This may sound like wishful thinking, but with some help from my good friend and talent sourcing trailblazer Amit Hinduja, we’ll show you that this isn’t just possible, it’s practical as well. Here are five insights to help you acquire talent more effectively and inexpensively. Yes, you read that right: it’s time to save money!
1. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is one of the most important investments that your organization can make, because in terms of talent acquisition, it’s the best tool for saving money in the shortest amount of time. Most importantly, you don’t need an experienced recruiter in order to uncover the vast amounts of hires that already exist within it. Here are some specific ATS related tips and insights to keep in mind:
- Invest in an ATS. If you don’t already have an ATS: get one! Yes, you’ll need to spend money in order to save money, but the good news is that it truly is a minimal cost. An ATS can be purchased for as little as $100 per month, it’s easy to use, and it provides your team with a number of benefits, including the opportunity to constantly revisit and connect with engaged candidates that you already have.
- Mine your ATS. As candidates apply through your career site, your ATS will grow to eventually contain hundreds — if not thousands — of engaged candidates. The amount of hires that comes from a well-mined ATS can be massive, but only if your team commits to mining through your ATS first. External sites, especially those with paid access or licenses, are often unnecessary as your new hires are within short (and much less expensive!) reach.
- Nurture your ATS. While it’s good to have a database filled with candidates, the reality is that resumes alone won’t fix your hiring woes. The key here is to develop and maintain a database of qualified and engaged candidates. Most ATS’s include features that allow you to stay connected to your candidates, while emphasizing the uniqueness of your employment brand and keeping your organization top of mind. Remember all of those silver and bronze medalist candidates who were good, but not the exact fit for what you were looking for? Those are your hires for tomorrow — but only if you succeed in keeping them engaged. Doing so through your ATS is simple, effective, and the activity can be tracked.
- Educate and inform with your ATS. Talent Acquisition functions are often viewed with frustration, and typically lacking an executive champion. In fact, they’re even relegated to an administrative function. Organizations that make full use of their ATS see this tool for its added capability, including the ability to build internal awareness and influence stakeholders because of the vast amount of valuable data. ATS’s are great for identifying value for spend, understanding how candidates are being engaged, reducing or even eliminating costly tools and resources, and providing your business stakeholders with competitive intelligence.
2. Train for Additional Sourcing Capability.
With the widespread accessibility of data and the availability of free tools, we have reached a point where finding candidates has become a skill that can be developed much more easily than in the past. Simply put: you no longer need to employ teams of highly paid recruiters to find candidates.
The majority of activity that goes into securing talent including building a prospect list, executing search queries, coordinating interviews and facilitating the approval process doesn’t require senior level recruiters. Less expensive junior resources, or even re-skilled workers in search of a second career, can be trained to source and find candidates. I know this first-hand because at The Talent Company, we’ve coached our clients to do this many times.
With this being said, it’s also true that some skills take time to develop. For example, convincing a coveted candidate to consider an opportunity, or intuitively knowing how to “close” a candidate are talents that come with experience. However, again, neither of these (or any other more advanced abilities) requires an entire senior level recruitment team. With a solid process, defined accountability, a focus on continuous training, and committed leadership, a hybrid team can and does work well.
Before moving on, I would like to caution organizations that take this approach with an overly simplistic view. The truth is, it isn’t simple to execute. However, it can certainly be done if the effort includes supportive leadership and an experienced Talent Acquisition/HR Manager; one who has experience with this type of model, and has the time to coach and mentor developing employees.
3. Leaders are Sources for Candidates Too
With the legacy of the “Great Recession” still fresh in our minds, organizations and hiring managers have moved towards what I consider an overly-specific approach to hiring talent. In most cases, candidates must match up with all or nearly all of the “must have” requirements.
The issue here, of course, is that there is a very real lack of qualified talent. Assessing for suitability is one thing. However, when we insist on sticking to our druthers and finding the “perfect candidate,” we must accept that a perfectly-suited and available candidate is rare. Finding this type of talent requires that an organization use all of its resources. This includes tapping into the professional networks and relationships of internal management and leadership teams. Leaders can be coached to open up their professional networks and support the efforts of recruitment teams. Essentially, inspiring recruitment advocacy amongst your management ranks makes great business sense and saves money.
4. Building a Culture of Empathy and Business Support
Your business leaders and hiring managers play a significant role in influencing the efficiency and effectiveness of your Talent Acquisition function. For example, a common yet often overlooked fact is that the total amount of open requisitions within most organizations is incorrect and inflated. The actual number can be far less. As a result, recruiters spend too much time chasing down hiring managers, only to eventually find out that the roles are on hold, still require approval, or that the requisition really isn’t critical.
Simply put, it’s up to us as Recruitment and HR leaders to help “the business” understand their role as enablers, and dare I say, catalysts of the core issue. Through frequent and honest dialogue, we must work together to eliminate inefficiencies and free up capacity to find strong candidates, and fill “real” requisitions. Initially, this will require courage and patience, and you should expect to face resistance from hiring managers who may not understand your message. But with a consultative approach that shows how and why this impacts the overall organization, you will prevail and eliminate the need to hire additional resources to keep up with demand.
5. Leveraging Social Media
Let’s switch gears now and consider how others save money while sourcing for quality talent. For insights on this, I turned to Amit Hinduja, a senior sourcing specialist and social media recruiter. Many of the tools and techniques Amit uses to find candidates are free. For example, a recent hire of his came from Whatsapp: a mobile messaging app. The following are based on his experience in utilizing social media:
- Get Social. Leading organizations that integrate social media into their overall recruitment process see a number of benefits. They include a reduction in “time to fill,” unlimited opportunities for generating leads, finding candidates faster, and building pipelines of passive candidates for future requirements. If your organization hasn’t adopted a comprehensive approach to leveraging social media, its time to give it a further look. There are numerous opportunities for cost savings.
- Talent Analytics (Big Data). Social media allows you to easily monitor and manage results, including what’s working and what isn’t. For example, you can track activity to see how and where candidates engage with your brand and career opportunities. Of particular importance is that you can redeploy resources and budget to the areas and tools that generate the largest impact, and eliminate unnecessary spending.
- Go Where the Candidates Are. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most common sources for candidates on social media. However, other channels should be mined as well because by putting sole focus on the “big 3” your team can be wasting valuable time and missing out on other, more potent sources for talent. For example, to source for technology consultants Amit visits free sites like Stackoverflow, Stackexchange and Superuser. For requirements within the graphic and UI/UX design space, he uses Dribble, Medium and Artfox. In planning a bit upfront, he applies a targeted effort in the direction that yields him the best, quickest and most cost effective results. As with all points mentioned above, Amit stresses that social media is simply one tool within an overall talent attraction strategy. It is, however, an important one as its value evolves, expands and continues to influence how organizations acquire talent.
While a lean approach to acquiring talent is invariably the preferred one, leaders who anticipate continued growth and hiring would be well served to consider all of the options listed above. We have put them in practice both at The Talent Company and for our clients, and I can assure you that they work and save money. With that being said, they also require an experienced talent leader, appropriate internal support, knowledgeable external counsel, and most of all: patience. But the rewards are well worth the effort, if only to establish beyond any doubt that we do have options and doing things “the way we’ve always done them” may be the easier decision, but certainly not the best nor the most effective one.
Joe Minaudo is the leader of the Strategy and Transformation practice with The Talent Company (www.thetalent.co), a human resources consulting firm that works closely with clients to develop, optimize and innovate their Recruitment and Talent practices. Joe possesses more than 15 years of recruitment, talent management and workforce planning experience. He has lead recruitment and workforce planning functions for both international and global Big 4 consulting firms. Joe can be found at the following social channels LinkedIn and Twitter.
Amit Hinduja is an innovative Talent hunter who uses social media platforms as his playground. His expertise is in social media recruiting, online research, competitive intelligence, community management and training. He has consulted for Fortune 500 companies, presented at a number of recruitment conferences and participates in panel discussions with universities and colleges around the world. Amit can be found at the following social channels LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.