Engagement Practice _ 11: Cast a Wide Recruiting Net to Expand the Universe of Best-Fit Candidates

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The logic is simple—the larger the selection, the greater your chances of

finding the right fit. There are three ways to expand your labor pool: first,

by not imposing too many restrictions in terms of your job requirements;

second, by changing the job itself; and third, by creatively considering new

sources of talent that you have never before tapped. Here are guidelines for

each of these:

1. Loosening Job Restrictions: As mentioned previously, many organizations

create job descriptions with too many requirements, many of

which are optional but not really essential. This means you may

need to challenge many of the technical requirements that often

appear on the long laundry lists that circulate prior to beginning the

recruiting process. This is especially important when the labor market

is tight or when the supply of talent for the position to be filled

is limited.

2. Changing the Job Itself: Every time you fill a job you have the opportunity

to take a second look at the way the job is done. ‘‘Because

we’ve always done it that way’’ is not the answer you are looking

for. The next time a position opens up, don’t just rush to fill it.

Instead, start with a clean slate by asking yourself, ‘‘What is the

work that needs to get done?’’ and take a fresh look at the needs

behind the job, not just the job description.

It may be that doing the job in a new way will actually result in

increasing the availability of applicants. United Parcel Service, for

example, was experiencing excessively high turnover with its drivers.

When they asked drivers why they were leaving, the overwhelming

response was that they hated having to load and unload

the delivery trucks. UPS decided to eliminate loading and unloading

as a job requirement for drivers, and to create a whole new job

category—loader. Their reasoning made perfect sense—the supply

of drivers is less than the supply of potential loaders, so why unnecessarily

restrict that supply? As it turned out, the rate of turnover

among loaders was also high, but they were easier to replace than

drivers, so the solution was a good one.

3. Creatively Considering New Sources of Talent. In my previous book,

Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business, there is a list of 54

creative sources for expanding the talent pool. One of the most

overlooked is the pool of internal candidates. Many hiring managers

can actually become victims of their own limited perceptions. Failing

to consider administrative assistants for management positions

because of having stereotyped them as second-class workers is a

common one.

Another self-imposed way of restricting our own talent supply is to

persist in keeping a job requirement that has become outdated, such as

continuing to demand specific programming knowledge when today’s software

packages have made it easier for more internal workers to learn the

software and be redeployed into those jobs. The same holds true for job

restrictions related to heavy lifting and words-per-minute requirements for

word processors, which may no longer be needed. Another example is

loosening dress code restrictions in call centers that may have previously

screened out workers who prefer a more informal way of dressing.

According to John Sullivan, former chief talent officer at Agilent Technologies

and recruiting guru to many forward-thinking employers, ‘‘only

10 percent of the recruiters in business today are using innovative methods

to help their companies attract and retain talent. The other 90 percent of

companies are still using old tools.’’ Here are some of the newer practices

that Sullivan recommends more companies consider:

Host open houses by invitation, by asking current employees to bring

in friends they believe would be good employees.

Build a Web site that puts prospects into e-mail contact with current

satisfied employees. Put streaming video on the Web site showing

the work environment.

Make your Web site more interactive, offering applicants the opportunity

to list their ideal job criteria, then showing jobs that most

closely match, and linking them to current openings.

Train all hiring managers to be more proactive as talent scouts, by

coaching them on where to look for new recruits and how to sell

them on the company and the job.

Build a contact database of the best talent in your industry and reach

out to build relationships with them through e-newsletters or by

phone so they will think of coming to work with your company

when they are ready to make a job change.

Make every employee a recruiter by creating or revitalizing employee

referral programs, as this method remains by far the most effective

method of attracting talent that stays.10