Josh Bersin, a leading authority on Talent Development and HR in the UK recently published a research study that found that, “While nearly every company is trying to hire (the unemployment rate is below 3.6% and the economy is creating more than 400,000 new jobs each month), recruiting teams are not keeping up.”

Bersin went on to say that only one company in four is recruiting in an optimized way today. Most companies are still using the “post and pray” approach, placing ads, listings on sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn, and promoting pay, benefits, and “great work environment.” That approach is no longer enough in today’s world, not only because it’s a candidate’s market, but also because today’s candidate, particularly at the executive level, is smarter, more mature, and more perceptive than candidates have typically been in the past.

Today, companies have to diversify their sourcing, create a holistic employment brand, prioritize internal mobility, simplify the candidate experience, and use AI and technology strategically. Bersin also found, recruiters, the human part of the process, have become more important than ever. Recruiting is a people-centric process. No software tool can adequately assess an individual’s fit with a job, a team, or a company. So recruiters are becoming critical to a successful hire.

By all means, process, technology, and tools are important, and there are more of these than ever before. What is critical is to use the technology to create focused, creative campaigns to attract people and that takes trained recruiters.

Recruiting is one of, if not the, most important investment a company can make. If a company is not finding the best, brightest, and most aligned people, all the other management and business process work will fail. So recruiters, at their core, are doing one of the most strategic jobs in the company.

Bersin tells the following story:

I interviewed the head of Talent Acquisition at a large oil company years ago and he told me a funny story. They tried to correlate dozens of factors to understand which job candidates became their top petroleum engineers. They looked at college degree, grade point average, prior work experience, salaries, location, and more. Ultimately he told me that none of these factors seemed to matter. After months of analysis, he concluded that the most predictive factor of all, in hiring a great engineer, was the recruiter. As he told me, “Great recruiters find great people.”

In the U.S., the “Fill Rate,” the percentage of jobs filled vs. jobs posted is at an all-time low. For every ten new jobs created, only six are getting filled. Companies are falling behind.

Previous blogs in this series, have addressed the modern HR function and cited research by Mercer that found that today’s HR is relied upon to:

  • Build new relationships and partnerships both within the organization and with external stakeholders
  • Drive innovation outside the confines of foundational HR programs in order to impact the business more broadly
  • Change risk-averse HR cultures into ones that allow for fast piloting and fast failing
  • Create programs built for constant iteration and thus change “agnostic” and resilient

This new level of critical functioning and the integration with the rest of the organization that it demands requires HR executives who are both specialists in organizational culture and are highly engaged in integrating HR with the rest of the organization’s strategy. The statistics that Bersin and others cite suggest that execution of recruiting strategy, particularly at the management and executive levels, requires a degree of specialization that many HR Departments may not have, and argue for outsourcing the job of attracting the right candidates, screening their training and experience, presenting the macro (organizational vision, values, mission) and micro (the particular position, requirements, compensation) to specialists.

The ideal recruiting specialist goes beyond “post and pray” to work hand-in-hand with the company and particularly HR to define the value proposition to be presented to candidates, finding candidates, whether they are actively looking or not, weeding out the unsuitable, and facilitating the hire.


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