Posts Tagged ‘ selling ’

End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Brand Protection

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In the last posting End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Brand Promotion I acknowledged that it was the responsibility of the corporate marketing and PR depts. to promote the corporate brand and also suggested that as Recruiters we have an equal responsibility for doing so. To take it a step further we can promote the brand with as much gusto and enthusiasm but if we forget some of the basics and lose focus we will fail to protect the brand. Some may even goes as far as severely damaging the corporate image and in some cases damning themselves and their company to infamy or worse. Good examples of this could include Gerald Ratner, who in 1991 openly said that the products his jewellery store chain sold were crap! and thus coined the phrase “doing a Ratner” and more recently, a story more closely related to recruiting first reported in the Daily Mail of Mr Karl Winn, boss of a web design company who I referred to previously Recruiters Brand Protection – shameful.

What have these two gentlemen in common? For starters they were probably both successful in promoting the products and services of their respective companies, and for generating different degrees of success. Secondly they both lost the focus of who they are and how they are responsible for continued protection of the corporate image and brand. They both forgot that what they say and do can and will have ramifications. Whilst Ratner’s mistake was meant in jest it still had a disastrous affect on him personally and on the company he founded and grew. As for Winn – well the less said about him the better, eh?

As professional Recruiters we too have a responsibility for ensuring that the employer image we and our colleagues have striven to create is protected. There are many reasons for this, reasons we don’t all think of all of the time, however we need to be mindful that what we say or do – or what we don’t say or don’t do – how we say things and do things can cost your employer money. One thing to be aware of, you cannot create a brand; your customers, your market does that for you, but you can protect it.

I’d like to use the FMCG or Consumer market to provide one example of what I mean. Picture the company has spent millions of dollars developing, launching, marketing and supporting a product that when used is a global market leader, whether it be a washing power, a computer product, a confectionary item or a soft drink. Then think of all of the people, candidates, you speak with on a daily basis and how anyone of them could be a consumer of your company’s product and what decisions they may make based on their interaction with you and your team members.

It all comes down to candidate experience. Each candidate who applies and is considered needs to be made to feel unique by the in-house recruiters and by any agency staff engaged in the process. This all comes down to the levels, timeliness and quality of communications between all parties, how much information is given, how much assistance is given and how much time is spent with them. One objective I speak about a lot is the fact that we need to ensure that every candidate who comes through our process leaves at the end of their journey with a positive feeling about my company, regardless of the result and their success in securing employment with you. We aim to ensure that they will speak highly of us and reapply for another role at another time because they had a good feeling by us.

A word to the wise here – Don’t forget it is our job to process applications and fill Reqs, but please don’t forget that a job application and the prospect of the job with your company could have a significant impact on the life of a candidate, for all kinds of reasons, especially in today’s economic climate. Put yourself in their shoes.

Take the candidate experience into the reference to the FMCG or Consumer Market above and think how a candidate who has been poorly managed and becomes dissatisfied and frustrated by how the application process has gone. It is human nature to associate one experience with another and to generalise. Thus it is not too much of a leap to think that if a candidate has had a poor experience when applying for a job with you he or she may very well have or create a similar opinion about your products. Not only that they are likely to tell their friends and word will get around. It won’t go far in a market context but give enough candidates poor experiences and a reputation can very easily be created. Not only are you likely to alienate some people and put them off applying for jobs with your company but they may chose not to use your products. Don’t forget people are fickle and perception is everything.

As recruiters we can’t do much about the quality or flavour of a soft drink or the performance of a software product, but we can influence the perception of a large portion of the market with our professionalism and by the attention we give to them during a job application process. Our goal is to give someone such a strong and favourable experience that if we are able to offer them a job they will be hungry to accept. If on the other hand we cannot offer them a job we would like to have done such a good job with as much sensitivity as possible, that they will feel confident that they can apply again in the future or at least refer a friend to us.

Simple tips:

• Be honest – do not over sell but feel free to impress
• When telephoning, discuss what they want to do, what they want to achieve, make it about them
• Confirm everything in writing, preferable by email rather than IM or Twitter DM etc
• Provide thorough detailed job descriptions
• Set accurate expectations and with regard to the process and the timelines
• Be clear with interview arrangements and confirm in writing, with a map and directions
• Don’t hide behind the anonymity of your ATS front-end
• Be available to answer any questions they may have in follow up
• Provide details of interviews structure, who interviewers are and their functions
• Follow up for feedback – but make it about them, their opinions, concerns and questions
• Give them feedback
• Be polite at all times
• SMILE! It does come across over the phone I promise you

• PUT THE CANDIDATE FIRST!

Sorry it is a bit 101 but I know from many candidates, as well as from reading concerns and complaints many have with their application process and experience, that many of us don’t adhere to basic principals all of the time. There is so much more that you can do and possibly should do. There is much that you will think cant be done for one reason or another, but don’t forget that even as professional recruiters we have all been candidates at some point and chances are we will be so again. How you like would to be treated and what would impress you?

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End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Management – Brand promotion

When it comes to the priorities that an In-house Recruiter (IR) must always keep at the forefront of conscious thought the promotion of their corporate brand and then protecting it must be at the top.

I have spoken to many many recruiters over the last 18 months and am surprised I meet some that seem to just go through the motions without consideration of what it all means to the candidate and to the company for whom you work.

Let’s take a look at promoting the brand.

We all know that Marketing and PR depts. are responsible for promoting the corporate messages to the target communities in the market, but how many of those same departments take ownership and responsibility for marketing the corporate message vision and culture to future potential employees? I would argue very few, sadly.

This task seems to fall to the teams of Talent Attraction professionals and unless you work in a large enough forward thinking organisation this will typically fall the IR’s, thankfully. Every time an IR places an advert on a job board or briefs an agency or approaches a candidate they are 100% responsible for promoting the corporate brand and values.

When placing an advert on a job board, branding is vital and so is how you write and present the advert. Studies by most of the leading job boards state that branded adverts tend to yield better results. Yes I know they would say that because they are trying to up-sell, but it makes so much sense. Think about it. Define an image, structure your ads with clear messages and create a consistent brand and it will get recognised time and again; maybe even searched for!

When briefing an agency an IR needs and must invest the time to give a thorough briefing. Anything less than 10 minutes just isn’t sufficient. Once the decision has been made to use an agency or a search firm you are effectively setting up a sales channel and delegating the responsibility of representing your company on your behalf to someone else. You need to be sure that they are equipped to represent you and your company to the best of your ability. Yes your ability. They are acting on your behalf. Give them the time and information they need to sell your company and your job to a potential candidate. I would advocate testing them on their understanding and knowledge too; see how well they are representing you. They will get better results if they have the right tools and the right pitch. It’ll also make you look good to your internal clients and not only that the candidate will think better of the agency and the whole recruitment process as a result. It’ll make the “close” easier.

When speaking to the candidate, make sure you give them so much information about the company, and while you are at it make it sound exciting. It is important from a candidate’s perspective to hear from a IR and hear all about the great things that the company does, has done and where it sits in the world and what it can offer them and what it could mean to them to be part of it. This isn’t about selling them a product; it is about selling them a career – a lifestyle, if you like! You need to give them the attention and priority throughout your discussions with them so that they consider you first when they are ready to move, whenver that may be.

We need to also discuss brand protection. Next time

End-to-End Recruitment Lifecycle Managment

I was having conversations with a couple of people this week and was asked questions in respect to the processes that need to be followed and considerations that an in-house recruiter (IR) needs to keep in mind. It was in answering these and having a full conversation around the subject ,that it made me think further about many of the things we have to do on a regular basis, that tend to get taken for granted; how much of a challenge we have and why the role of the in house is such a mystery to many.

I recognise that not all companies have in-house recruiting or resourcing teams. I also recognise that not all in-house teams work in the same way. Take the membership of The FIRM for example. There are over 900 companies represented across 41 countries, each has their own set of processes and corporate politics and peculiarities to respect. I expect the focus and priorities and therefore the models that are adopted vary from company to company, from country to country and event internal business unit to business unit. So I will continue based on some firsthand understandings and some assumed generalisations.

I know for a fact that many an agency and customer does not and probably cannot understand the scale, pace and intensity that an IR lives with. I have even heard agency staff disrespect IR’s claiming them to be failed agency staff or gatekeepers – that’s a good business tactic if ever I heard one!

The fundamental role of the IR is to hire the best people possible to meet the business needs of their employer. Simple, yes? However if we start to think of the IR in terms of managing the end-to-end recruitment lifecycle we start to understand where the hours in the days go when time and consideration needs to be given to :-

• Resource and budget planning – reports, trends , market analysis

• Attraction strategies which would include Campaign/Marketing strategies – short-, medium- , longer-term

• Acquisition strategies- direct source/search, job boards, online medium options, agencies, search

• Interview planning – attendees, structure, schedules

• Internal Customer management – an IR cannot hide from or ignore customers, they will hunt you down through the corridors

• Candidate Management – sourcing, CVs, Interviewing, feedback, follow up, experience and expectation management

• Brand Protection and candidate experience

…and these are just the high level ones. Add in our general love for speaking with people and you have all of the networking and interaction with our internal and external contacts, all of whom can have a direct impact on how the job is performed and what results you might be able to achieve.

Two primary concerns for all IR’s must be projection and protection of the corporate brand and the provision of a first class candidate experience. We must ensure all that we do ensures that every candidate that goes through the application process is managed in such a way that at the end of their journey they feel good about the experience, whether the result for them is positive or not.

Each of the above points could have many words written about it and I intend to explore some of them in a bit more detail in future posting.

Do consider this as a taster – a prelude if you will.

The Transaction v’s The Relationship or some would say chicken and egg!

I am not sure if is a symptom of the current state of affairs in the market and the difficulties many agencies are having or one of many other equally probable reasons, but I keep getting asked questions around a common theme, i.e.

“What can we (agencies) do to work with your company?”

“What can we do differently to ensure continued success in the market?”

“What can we do to improve our reputation and earn the respect of in-house recruiters?”

I don’t think that these questions are actually that new, but I know that with so many corporate in-house recruiting teams building sustainable direct recruiting models that agencies might feel under threat and need to find other ways of going about their business.

Many in-house recruiters receive an abundance of Cold Calls from agencies each week. Usually they are from agencies looking for new name business but occasionally they are received from known agencies or people with whom we have spoken but who insist on using the same tried and tested routine and script on the call. These calls are Spam Calls, usually irrelevant and intrusive. I can go on for a few 1000 words on the different ill conceived approaches employed on these call, their effectiveness and their place in my life; however these calls are not the point of the blog entry and will be saved for another time.

The point of this entry is all about how agencies can change if they want to, to meet the needs of their customers, both current and prospective. On a couple of occasions recently when asked these questions by different groups of people I have proposed a change of attitude and focus and put forward the idea of changing from Transactional selling to Relationship selling. What was very worrying was that on each occasion I was asked what the difference is! It even came up in Bill Boormans internet blogtalkradio Broadcast recently “View from the other Side”.

In general, most agencies and their staff are focused on receiving the placement fee and I’d be surprised if any agency owner or worker would honestly disagree with this. This is not necessarily the fault to the individual but is a result of the sales targets set by their managers. We’ve all heard the tales or had first-hand experience of agencies with petty targets measuring the number of calls, appointments made, vacancies obtained, CVs sent, interviews arranged and offers received set for their staff. This is makes it a numbers game with luck and opportunity being the real success factors. This approach fosters an attitude and approach by the agency staff that has them chasing the deal first. They may win the deal and thus the fee, but can it be replicated to such a consistent level that it becomes forecastable? Everything they do is Transactional.

It is written in so many sales training guides and other texts that people will only do business with people they like and trust, so why is it ignored? To be truly successful and have companies coming back for repeat business the best agencies workers have built long term cooperative relationships over time and in many cases have become friends with those they supply. So why is it that the rest don’t do this – it works!

For an in-house recruiter I need to rely on a supplier(s) that no only understands what I need, what my stakeholders need, how my company is structured but who also knows how to sell my company, the position and our value proposition to candidates. So how do you get this level of interaction? Isn’t it a bit like the chicken and the egg question? I cannot tell anyone how to go about this because as individuals we all react differently to different people but agencies should be brave enough to think longer term think about building relationships.

Whilst I appreciate that it might not suit every business model or customer profile surely it is better to focus on the Relationship for longer term sustainability. Obviously it has to have a balance! This kind of Relational selling does not have a fee or a deal as its objective. The objective is to become someone your customer trusts AND can work with. If and when this is achieved the fees and revenue will happen anyway. Rather than focusing on where a fee will come from this month, concentrate efforts on how and where fees will come from over the next 24 months.