Is Recruiting a Problem for Your Company? Let’s Try Something Different
“Sometimes, I see things differently…” is the tagline that I have used for a long time. My feeling is that since I am lefthanded, I need to adapt – and have had to adapt my entire life.
This ability to adapt benefits my Talent Attraction Consulting clients.
Remember the Professional Recession in the early 1990s? It was one of the first recessions in my experience where Professional Workers (many in IT) were targeted. The Blue Collar Workers did not feel the same negative impacts as in previous recessions.
In September 1992, MCI Telecommunications hired me to create a recruiting strategy to transition their 200 employee New Commercial Billing System (NCBS) from Arlington, VA to Cedar Rapids, IA. I knew that would be an interesting challenge since many Spouses and Significant Others had jobs that were Washington, D.C. specific – Working for the Pentagon, The Supreme Court, The White House, Congress, The Smithsonian Museums, and the list goes on…
I spoke confidentially with the members of the team and discovered that of the 200 members of the team, only 10 members would move. Many of the balance would say they were considering the move to save their jobs. Meanwhile, those IT Professionals and other MCI Employees went into a full-blown career search. Many of them were hired by Sprint in Northern Virginia (ironically, they led to another talent attraction consultant contract in 2006 – but that is another story).
Speaking with the Director, I learned that his Leadership would use this move to add 10% more headcount. Therefore, we would need to recruit a minimum of 220 IT professionals to Cedar Rapids, IA in 20 months – we needed a minimum of 120 IT Professionals in seats beginning January 1, 1993, and ending December 31, 1993. Since Cedar Rapids only had 3 IBM Mainframe shops in 1992 with MCI being the largest by at least 2 times. The second largest was an insurance company – and I knew that we would not be able to recruit from them – wrong culture.
Recruiting strategies often need to be tweaked as you work them. Since Cedar Rapids did not have the needed IT Population, my initial Recruiting Strategy was to Attract the needed IT candidates from population centers around the US – St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, etc., especially those candidates with Iowa on their resume. The Hiring Managers agreed with my strategy to spend the last 2 weeks on the road with 3 to 4 managers. We would interview 18 to 24 candidates daily – and make Hiring Decisions every night over dinner. Then I contacted MCI Human Resources that evening for permission to extend offers for the selected candidates for particular posted openings. They had a person in Colorado Springs who worked an adjusted day to assist me by giving me permission to extend offers against open requisitions. Often, this enabled me to strike when the iron was hot! I extended offers That Evening!
This was before the Internet was meaningful for recruiting and meant that my Talent Attraction Strategy could not only be running newspaper ads – and we did run newspaper ads. I had to recruit using all my recruiting skills. I knew we were going to relocate many families to Cedar Rapids.
Referrals would be key to our success. One senior manager that I recruited referred me to 12 IT Professionals from her former company. We hired all 12 of them. That was 10% of our required minimum of new employees for 1993.
The Human Resources staff enabled me to work independently of them. I needed their approval to extend offers to candidates for specific requisitions. We knew the compensation bands for each position. Typically, during this project, I requested that 80 openings at different levels be opened simultaneously. This enabled us the flexibility to hire promising candidates when we needed them immediately instead of waiting a week or more for positions to open. It also allowed MCI employees plenty of time to apply. As we approached the number of new employees to 220, we lowered the appropriate number of open positions. Generally, these last employees were in more targeted positions.
Once, I interviewed a Senior Manager candidate over the phone while I was at United Airlines’ Red Carpet Club at Chicago O’Hare. He interviewed with the Director in Cedar Rapids and was hired. Several months later, we discovered that he was in the other Red Carpet Club at O’Hare when we had our phone interview. If we just asked one more question, we could have met in person!
We needed to recruit 10 to 12 recent college graduates. I strongly suggested this practice because many MIS college graduates learned the latest technology, were engaged in their new jobs, and did not know what they did not know. They were willing to do almost any job. Since I was not going to be in Iowa during the university’s Career Fair, I explained to the Director of the MIS program that we needed to recruit soon-to-be college graduates. He told me that his program had 9 students who were his best students. He gave his selected students my MCIMail address. We set them up for interviews on the campus (before the University Career Fair) – and hired all nine of them. Twenty years later many were still at Verizon (acquired MCI).
On December 31, 1993, we counted the number of professionals that we recruited. Including the 10 Employees who relocated from DC/MD/VA, we had 143 employees in seats. The Vice President and Director of Commercial Billing were thrilled.
The recruiters for Perot Systems, who consulted with MCI, saw my success recruiting for Cedar Rapids. They followed my process and experienced similar success. There were times when we interviewed candidates in the same hotels on the same days. In late 1993 and early 1994, the employment market changed and the responses to our ads lessened. I changed my tactics to attract the best candidates. The lead recruiter for Perot Systems approached me and had the chutzpah to complain that my process no longer worked. I asked if Perot was paying me. He laughed, and said, “No!” I told him that I changed my strategy and had continued success with my new strategy (but did not share my new strategy with him).
It is important to remember that the Employment Market ebbs and flows like the Economic Markets. An organization’s recruiting strategy needs to be flexible. Many try to keep the same strategy and expect better results. Talent Acquisition is a dynamic process. It may change by season, location, company success (or lack of success), economic markets, etc. Too many companies feel that changing the recruiting process is finding a new place to post positions – and hoping the best person is looking at the same time you need them. What are the odds of that happening?
This is the link to the Concrete Foundations Association quarterly magazine, Concrete Facts where I discuss the importance of trying different recruiting methods. My articles are one of the many benefits of belonging to the Concrete Foundations Association. Click on this link – Want a Change in Recruiting Performance? Let’s do Something Different : Concrete Facts Magazine Online
Talent Attraction is Better than Talent Acquisition!
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With 40+ years of Expert Professional Talent Attraction Consultant experience mingled with 26+ years of Expert Career Coaching Experience, Bill is uniquely qualified to Speak, Author, and Consult on Talent Attraction, Career Search, and Proper Goal Setting.
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