End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Customer Engagement

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One key function that differentiates an In-house Recruiter (IR) from a Talent Acquisition (TA) Business Partner (TABP) is the level of customer engagement. We are not just talking about the taking of a vacancy brief or getting feedback on an applicant, but getting entrenched into their management structure at which point you become part of their business planning thought process. I am sure the vast majority of IR’s will agree that this is not as easy to accomplish as it seems.

I won’t go into the challenges with the type of engagement but focus more on what to do when you get the ear of the Business Unit or Department leader. This is a big subject but I am going to deliberately keep it high-level for now.

Number 1 in the things that a TABP needs to have is credibility. Without it you won’t be given the time of day – twice! As we all know, every hiring manager is a recruiting expert – they all know the best agencies and know how to conduct proper and professional interviews (yeah right!). So why do they need you? Well you have to show them why and in doing so earn their respect and trust. You have to show that you are aware of issues both internal and external that could affect or impact their planning. This will come in many forms; understanding their dept structure, understanding their business model, knowing how they fit into the corporate structure; understanding the market forces they have to deal with and what their risks and challenges are,…..the list goes on.

The key though is to be sure you have something of value to take to that first and most important meeting.

Once you have the ear and mindshare, you do have to add value. The 2 biggest values you can bring to the table are information and candidates – both in a timely manner. Neither is necessarily easy.

Information – stats, stats and more stats.

The bigger the company the more they love ‘em. You could try showing the recruiting trends over the last 6, 12, 24 months in terms of Seasonal Trends, i.e. when they open their Reqs; Time-to-Hire and Source-of-Hire. (I personally am not a fan of Time-to-Hire as a measurement of quality, but it is very useful as an indicator to levels of activity, engagement and decision on all sides). In the current economic climate cost optimisation is at the top of everyone’s thoughts and planning process and thus the Source-of-Hire and by association Cost-of-Hire can have a huge impact. And if you can discuss and agree on a plan to reduce these then you the platform on which to build your strategy and partnership

Whilst the use of stats from internal sources will have a bearing and relevance to your customer, you will also need to have a good understanding of the market and the influences it will have on the business and your ability to hire. Information from external sources could be more valuable to the business and your function than you think.

I give you an example. Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who works for a search firm. I was told that they’d been retained to search for sales people in various countries around the region and was targeting specific skills as well as other companies to fulfil their obligations. Initially I saw this as a potential risk to our headcount, but on reflection I saw it as valuable information for the regional leaders. The numbers being recruited by this other company indicated that they are likely to be making a big effort for sales across the region chasing the same revenue/spend my company is after. This kind of information delivered to a customer provides awareness to a potential new business threat in the region. It also gives an indication of the competition faced for acquiring similar skills and gives you greater credibility with your customer – a win-win-win situation!

Delivering the Candidates

The vast majority of IR teams deliver reactively and Just-In-Time. This is not necessarily the best way of finding the best talent. Let’s face it recruiting is all about timing and we have to accept that we can only hire the best people we can find at that time. But we can stack the odds in our favour.

By working closely with the BU leaders you will possibly become and essential part of their quarterly and yearly planning process. Different departments will have different critical points through the fiscal year; Sales will typically want to do most of their hiring at the beginning of the new financial year, whereas an R& D dept. will want to hire with sufficient time to be sure that a new product can be launched according to schedule, which will likely mean that the Technical Support teams might want to do theirs to coincide with a new product launch, and so it goes on across the business. If you as a TABP can be part of departmental planning you will be able qualify what skills are needed and when for, thus be able to put an advance plan in place to build a pipeline of credible candidates and if you are equipped to do so save your customer some precious budget in the process.

Having such advance notice will allow you to plan your sourcing strategy with the resources, both internal and external available to you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can direct source now that you have the time to do it. You may not have be equipped with the skills or bandwidth to do it in your current structure, many don’t. So I guess what I am saying here is make sure that you manage the expectations of your customer and ensure you and you teams are equipped to deliver before you commit. It all sounds good but if you don’t have the mechanics or the know-how then it could backfire. Then you will lose any and all credibility that you have earned. It will then be difficult to nearly impossible to build it again.

To close this post it is vital to ensure that you, the TABP provide a constant flow of information to your customer; market intel, candidate market intel, campaign/sourcing progress, anything to keep them in the loop. Your goal is to make sure that when they think recruitment they think of you first. You become the trusted advisor.

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