The New Corporate Recruiter

Its time to wildly differentiate corporate recruiting from agency recruiters, RPO, and independents – and put all the “who is better at it” crap to sleep.

The NEW Corporate Recruiter is one who figures out how we insert talent into the organization, and then is responsible for getting employees productive post hire. The key differences will be that Corporate Recruiters will take on the responsibility for actually deciding on which type of legal relationship do we want with the new talent (employee, contractor, outsource) AND take on engaging that employee BEYOND the hire.

Caution – this blog post is very editorial. No stats today – just ideas 😉

I think we are moving quickly towards a clear re-shaping of what an “employee” is as more of the workforce becomes third party outsourcing, technology, contractors, bots, robotics, and yes – artificial intelligence. We are in what some are calling the Exponential Age, which is similar to the Industrial Age, where growth and change were rampant, but this Exponential Age where companies grow quickly, steal marketshare fast, and are wildly disruptive is at a scale and speed we just have not seen. If you think we are NOT disrupting employment, think again.

The legal definitions are pretty clear within each jurisdiction – what you can or can’t do if you are an employee, or a contractor, but the advantages of choosing one over the other are where things get blurry. We have been outsourcing to technology for years (we call that efficiency, productivity etc) and its going to scale big. We are SLOW in recruiting. We adopt innovation oddly. We are still using online applications by in large. There are businesses that are still using paper applications. Have you seen the background check process? OMG.

In some cases, being a contractor has all the benefits of an employee, except for literally “the benefits”. A dual income house can easily have one person working as an employee (who gets all kinds of employee benefits) and the other is a contractor. Meanwhile, our contractor pretty much gets the benefits of culture, environment, etc of their employer…and does not “need” the benefits because the spouse/partner has that covered.

Meanwhile, its not uncommon for people to work less than 2 years at ANY job, let alone an employer, and it has certainly become more acceptable in some cultures and industries to do so. My LinkedIn thread tells me that people accelerate their compensation faster by LEAVING an organization rather than getting promoted or waiting on merit increases…so that makes it even more acceptable to sunset a current job faster (thus every two years). We are seeing hints of it now. People aren’t staying, talent market is tightening, and its only getting harder.

So the New Corporate Recruiter addresses the tighter, faster, scaling market that is the Exponential Age.

Recruiters have classically stopped engaging with employees past day 1. In most cases, before day 1. I guess that is okay, but I think corporate HR leaders need to start challenging that. RIGHT NOW.

Employees are invested differently than contract or outsourced personnel. They get management, training, resources, mentors, and so on. The overall corporate investment is actually different per head. Go ask. How much more money do you spend on an employee vs a contractor or outsourced provider? How much more management time do they get? Getting an employee productive in your company is choosing to make a larger investment. Recruiting needs to be part of that actual decision process up front on the investment strategy. We then can expand our specialty around getting employees (not contractors) the resources they need, get them integrated, and at high productivity SO fast that their success rate is much higher, and their retention is never in question.

In fact, we could have corporate recruiting take on that its their responsibility to make sure every employee that comes in on their watch is promoted or has had significant advancement in responsibility within 18 months.

OLD KPI = Fill 25 – 100 full time positions a year
NEW KPI = 95% of new hires meet expected performance level in 100 days

OLD KPI = Fill 25 to 100 full time positions a year
NEW KPI = 95% approval rating on contractor/outsource/employee decision

OLD KPI = Fill 25 – 100 full time positions a year
NEW KPI = Fill 300 assignments a year

OLD KPI = Fill 25 to 100 full time positions a year
NEW KPI = X% of assignments filled with employees with less than 24 months in role

Let the above sink it…hold it down. Breathe…..accept.
Okay – maybe you need a beverage.

I think THIS is the new job of the corporate recruiter. They are productivity experts. Their job is to make sure that we interview only a few people, assess the choices well, and make sure the resulting choice gets to the highest level of productivity possible, as fast as possible, and then move into another role in 18 months, so the employee stretches beyond the 2 year mark. They are the ones making the decisions on employee vs non-employee, and making sure our employee investment is strong.

Not exactly using LinkedIn Recruiter to send InMails and tweeting jobs…is it?

Let’s play this out in a few company types…to see what it looks like.

TECH – Welcome to the world of professional sports Tech Recruiters, and you just officially became scouts. Your teams are developing into lots of contract hires, and short term hires, and the price is getting high. Meanwhile, more talent is developing offshore and remotely. Your new job? You now hire the “managers and team leaders”. That’s it – and you negotiate longer term employment contracts, like 4 year deals, even 8 year deals, with those leaders. Your company is going to commit to invest in them, and grown them and give them a great opportunity to lead. The individual contributor positions will come to you through inbound branding or you will pay another 20% for them per hour because they are all contract, and now you can afford to do this. Your job is to find the leaders and managers who make it happen and make sure they know how to manage diverse groups of individual contributors, vendors, and offshore labor.

START UPS – Why the hell do you have a corporate recruiter sending InMails and creating job ads? Unless you are in a garage, in seed round or your recruiter is clearly an amazing leader and has the ear of the CEO, you should have asked the private equity to invest in working with a RPO or dedicated agency that you can beat the hell out of and sell you like crazy. You aren’t big enough for a corporate recruiting department. You are being cheap if you are. What you need is an internal employee whose job it is to make sure that every new hire is awesome at their job and knows the ropes. Yes, they are involved in the recruiting for sure, but later in the process. If that person is posting on CareerBuilder and sourcing using LinkedIn Recruiter, you are wasting their salary. Your PE firm should invest the most in making sure you recruit fast, well, and without error – and that means use a vendor to get it done, so you can spend time developing product and selling. That means likely two HR people – 1) manage making sure your team has the resources they need and new hires are enabled and 2) an employee that does compensation, training, engagement, vendor management, etc.

CONSULTING – For campus, enough with the damn pizza parties and super Saturday interviews during the Fall and Spring. Your job is to get your candidate past year 5 at the firm. That’s it. You own them. Go find people who will join the firm, figure out who is going to stay, and get them past year 5 so we don’t feed our competitors, and make sure they have EVERYTHING they need to make it. YES – some will wash out but damn…at least 50% have to make it. Get them what they need – resources, mentors, new assignments – whatever. You are their agent, so get used to it. Your job is to find and build the next crop of leaders and make sure they stay here. If you are at a larger company, you might have a group of 125 to 200 people you are constantly looking out for PLUS bringing in a new crop each year.  As for management, you can have your pick of doing it or not, but if you are going to do it, OWN IT. You own the sourcing, branding, and your job is bring people into the most critical leadership or management positions – but no more individual contributors. That’s right – gone are the days of recruiting individual contributors as a Corporate Recruiter. Outsource those positions – yes, even in Tech. As a Corporate Recruiting in Consulting, you hire leaders and managers, because the majority of the individual contributors are likely moving to temporary labor anyway, and if they are not campus driven, the likelihood of them staying beyond 2 year is minimal – so why are you recruiting them yourselves? Why make that investment of time and energy? Its more likely that you will convert a contractor into a full time leader OR get an employee referral for a leadership position than it would be to actually promote somebody from an individual contributor role to a leadership role…so why do we put hope in the promotion? Now a Corporate Recruiter at “consulting company” is the builder of leaders that stay, and the gatekeepers to the top leadership roles in the company…and no…you CAN’T outsource that role to RPO or agency.

LARGE FIELD OPERATIONS – Early career / campus strategy is the same as Consulting (see above). Meanwhile, you own leadership and front line management in your facilities. No question. All the accountants and other types of personnel in the front office you might as well outsource unless its senior leadership, and even that is up for debate. This is perfect for retail and facility rich businesses.  Get those managers in, give them everything they need, and get them wildly productive. With rare exception, you could do sales or customer service. However, I rarely see a company do it better, faster, and cheaper in field operations better than RPO (at least our data shows that). If they do better, its because they are one of the biggest brands in their market, they have over 75 headcount in region in recruiting, and/or their recruiters are NOT typical pedigree or training (see companies like GSK who take ex-sales people who won internal sales awards and put them in recruiting #awesome)

NON-EXEMPT POPULATIONS – CVS, Wells Fargo, Macy’s, Ford, GM, and others are not about to shed millions of hourly employees and flip them to contractors and join the gig economy. KFC is not outsourcing their staff to Manpower anytime soon. That said, these businesses, especially the retail ones, need to think about if these hires really belong to HR vs Marketing. The lines for how people shop and how they work where they shop is blurring fast. I don’t have an answer to this one yet, and I don’t expect to. However, each business needs to determine if they are going to own this staffing work, and if really still belongs in HR. I am just not convinced. Over the years, we have restaffed and retooled several large scale retail organizations…and it feels…dated.

GOOGLE – Do your own damn thing. You get 1MM resumes a day, so I am not going to even indulge the BS about how to tell you what to do – you are a unicorn, so I am not going to reference unicorns in a blog post. That goes for your fellow unicorns at Facebook, Nasa, NSA, CIA, Walmart and a few select others. To the regular horses out there – stop trying to emulate companies that spend several hundred million dollars on branding, technology, or recruiting when you don’t – and stop reading blog posts that tell you to.

Something is missing to make what I listed above work. Its a shift for sure. It WILL work with a new badge of honor. Something that says to the candidate “you are different”.

Companies have an opportunity to clearly state a difference between those that work there (non-employees), and those that are investing in (employees). If we use the above scenarios as a baseline, you can see each scenario is clearly focused on recruiting certain employees, and only those employees.

This means that those employees probably have certain characteristics that other parts of the workforce doesn’t have. Here are the characteristics that we can start with:

These Candidates Manage. This is coming fast, but if you want to be recognized as a leader of people, you need to manage and have responsibility for others, and take it on the chin when they do. I can see the percentage of individual contributors increase towards contract work, but not the managers. The legal ramifications are hard and finite. As this develops, recruiters are going to have to learn to understand how management works, what leadership is and how to assess for it, and seek it out. Its hard to do on a LinkedIn profile – it does require understanding style and how people like to lead teams.

These Candidates Make Big Decisions. P&L responsibility, mergers, technology acquisitions, investments and more are going to be done by employees, not contractors. Recruiters need to focus on how judgement and business outcomes are executed.

These Candidates Stay. As this dichotomy grows, I think we are going to see employees stay longer. As the need for recruiting changes, I think corporate recruiters will be responsible for onboarding, increasing productivity, and getting employees the resources they need in the first year of their employment. I see recruiters at corporate go well beyond the hire.

These Candidates Receive Investment. Amazing training, leadership academies, mentors, executive coaches, and more. They get education paid for and debts paid down. Companies need to think about partnering with an employee on their debt, such as college tuition. Imagine if we always paid off that debt, or part of it, for employees – say up to 20k a year? That seals the deal, doesn’t it? We now need to make it work over time, and invest in their future with us. You know – its funny – we will pay $80,000 for senior manager on an executive search fee when they resign after 2.5 years, but we WON’T pay $80,000 over 4 years to make sure somebody stays and is reinvested in deliberately.  #Weirdness.

These Candidates are Part of the Brand. They are on the front lines, especially in the non-exempt workforce. The reason why bank tellers, cashiers, mechanics, builders and so on could be employees is that they carry the brand flag…all the time. You know how many Ford hourly employees own a Ford, and tell others to own a Ford? I have no data, but my guess is just about all of them. That has to be a consideration when thinking about which roles will be employees and which will not.

PS I Love You Candidate. I think what also needs to happen is realize that we grow people into future leaders, even without intending to do so. We can’t assume that employers won’t be able to grow from within or that the most valuable people will always come from Corporate Recruiters doing their thing. That said, our employees – whoever we choose in our workforce to make employees – need to be escalated, identified, and cared for – at every turn. For the field operations, we are going to have the bank teller that has been there 5 years and should be promoted. Cool – make sure a Corporate Recruiter takes them on in their watched group of 200.

We are in this new age. We need to make changes to keep up. All the conferences and thought leadership events that I go to, speak at, whatever – in many cases disruption comes in the form of using a CRM and Snapchat. SIGH. I see that we have a seat at the table now…we were BEGGING for it for so long. However, cool videos, Snapchat, Pokemon recruiting, and so on is going to just put us in the folding chair that gets pulled out the garage and tacked to the end of the table like at Christmas when somebody brings an unexpected guest.

Its time for Corporate Recruiting to really change, differentiate, and prove a new type of impact. #TalkDataToMe


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