Let’s start with an example from recent experience: a medium-sized company is searching for a specialist in a high-level position. They post various job ads in pricey outlets and wait. Nothing is happening. They have a lot of work but it doesn’t seem to fit. They turn to 2-3 different HR consultants but don’t get satisfying numbers of applicants that fit the company or even the job ad. HR gets frustrated because there are a lot of other things on their table they have to attend to.
Which are the key factors that influence the success or failure of this process that is far more common than one might think? Of course there are a number of points that come to mind that could be easily fixed in the example above and especially recently with new technologies and networks at play HR and Recruiting have undergone some strategic changes that are by now (one might think) well known. But the change and the adaptation process are very much connected to structural changes and those are much harder to make. Furthermore there is no one successful model that fits all companies.
If you look at organizational structures, of course, the size of the company is very important. When it comes to talent-management a small or medium-sized company might face a much harder time finding appropriate talent because of their often unattractive rural locations, their non-existent or weak employer brand and, as a consequence, a limited reach for their offers. But their small or medium size also offers a number of advantages because the structures can be much less complex than they usually are in big companies. That leads to more transparency and more easily foreseeable career paths, more flexibility in adapting to new developments and structures and flat hierarchies (to also more easily spot talent within the company and make them see opportunities).
The position of HR within the company
A crucial point is also the strategic placement of HR within the company. Is there one HR department reporting to the CFO or is there an additional or connected Recruiting department that is involved in strategic decisions on CEO level? Very often the talent-management is either fairly disconnected from strategic decisions or the synergies don’t quite work. That has a number of reasons. The activities performed by the HR department often go from recruiting to job interviews to contracts to administrative tasks like making appointment, hunting down signatures and greenlighting salary agreements. Not to forget to keep up the good spirits of the existing employees. This can make it very difficult to dive into active sourcing and sustained networking. Furthermore there are often either no KPIs defined or they are just not tracked.
After all, strategically, Recruiting has a very crucial function within the company’s development. There is a demand for talent resulting from the company objectives and Recruiting has to translate this demand into a profile, put the profile out there and source for the right talent. Of course, then HR needs to be involved in strategic decisions to be able to tailor their activities to the company’s objectives and that also means that Recruiting either needs to be detached from the administrative HR responsibilities in order to have enough space and time or the HR as a whole has to be moved closer to strategic decisions and needs to be restructured accordingly within.
Active sourcing and social recruiting
One of the main reasons for the structural changes is the growing tendency to less and less wait for the right talent to come and more and more find the right talent before someone else does. Especially, of course, the more high-level the positions become and the more expertise is needed to fit the profile. The amount of research showing the potential of passive candidates and the technology that now exists to reach those gems calls for active sourcing. But active sourcing and social recruiting need expertise as well. It’s far more than browsing some profiles on LinkedIn and writing some messages. Social recruiting needs to be implemented with a strategic focus, defined KPIs and a comprehensive communication strategy that also includes individual messaging and thorough evaluation of channels, possibilities and measures. It can even make sense to connect Recruiting to Corporate Communications or the Social Media Department.