Even though May's unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was modest at best, there continues to be signs that companies of all sizes are preparing for a surge in recruiting demand. There is quite a bit of decision making that goes into evaluating infrastructure needs to address a rapid (or even modest) rise in demand.
This is especially true now, as many firms have a recruiting arm that took it on the chin early on during the recession. After all, strict hiring freezes implicitly mean, we don't need recruiters in house right now. Of course, when you are looking to rebuild staff, recruiters are exactly what you need. The question then becomes, how should we recruit?
I get this question quite a bit, and thought I would share some of the decision criteria for how you can best address expected increases in talent demands. These are by no means comprehensive, but should serve as helpful considerations to help facilitate development of exactly the sort of recruitment infrastructure you need to best meet demand.
1. Evaluate processes. The first step should not even be connected to the actual manpower needed to fulfill expected demand, but rather an evaluation of the current recruitment processes that are in place. If your organization dropped to a bare bones recruitment staff, what happened to your processes? Was the entire discipline shelved, or was an effort made to examine the process that was in place?
It is likely that a cursory examination of the process took place in order to well define it when the time came to ramp up staff. If that is the case, then it's also likely that the old process, even if it was working well, is not structured in a way that will help drive efficient recruiting and on-boarding of new talent post-Great Recession.
To move forward, determine where recruitment and candidate sourcing dollars should be invested, how metrics will be collected and evaluated to gauge recruitment success, and how to integrate recruiting with the business so as to quickly address the most pressing hiring needs. This level of analysis will reveal how well the process is optimized, and identify any areas of the recruiting foundation and infrastructure that need to be addressed immediately.
2. Collaboration. Surprisingly, we still meet firms that continue to isolate their talent needs from their recruiting process. While recruitment is clearly a service to the business, it is essential for the two to behave as mutual partners rather than customer and provider.
The best level of cooperation between the business and recruiting occurs when specific objectives are placed central, and used to articulate the specific talent needs associated with those objectives. Such collaboration inherently improves other ares of the employment process, including on-boarding, speed to new employee productivity, and in many cases, clearer succession plans.
3. Categorize demand. Hand in hand with collaboration should be the categorization of the talent demand. Significant reductions in force that accompanied the economic collapse of 2008 might have been reflective of the fast and loose hiring that can be indicative of good times. To avoid an unnecessary employee surplus, the demand for talent should be categorized against its intended use.
What is the projected duration of the most pressing need? What contingencies affect those needs? Will the natural development of the position be easily applied to expected growth during the upcoming business quarters? Are the skills required associated with specific deliverables?
These types of questions will help uncover how to best satisfy needs and define the level of recruitment power needed.
4. Determine budget. Defining the overall cost of recruitment to establish accepted cost per hire metrics is critical. This will help you build a recruitment infrastructure that will deliver the appropriate level of quality while also ensuring cost efficiency. The hiring of full-time recruitment alone is an expense that too frequently is not factored into the desired cost per hire of talent.
Calculating a range of acceptable costs per hire helps when deciding how to hire in 2010 -- whether to use an internal recruitment staff, hire contract recruiters, partner with a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) company, or use a one-time RPO project targeted to your most pressing needs.
5. Cross functional analysis of skill sets. The funny thing about economics is that it seems the smartest economists in the world are rarely 100 percent accurate with their projections. Too many external and increasingly global factors impact the direction of the economy.
Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate recruitment talent for skill sets that will be applicable in the event that recovery is slower than expected, stalls, or worse, fades back into recession territory. A fully-skilled recruiter isn't worth much when you aren't doing any recruiting, so it's smart to ensure their skills are transferable to other areas of workforce management.
Again, these recommendations are by no means comprehensive, but they should hopefully serve as common sense reminders to help make investments in recruiting infrastructure. Applying them where they make sense for your firm is likely to result in not only improved recruitment processes, but in sound decision making on how to quickly and cost-effectively satisfy the ever-evolving talent needs of the business.