Mastering the Recruitment Process

Neil I. Jones

Finding, training and managing the right staff is a challenge. The key is to have an excellent recruitment process in place.

Looming large on every plant manager's agenda is the thorny issue of finding, training, and managing the right workforce—and it all starts with the recruitment process. Do you have the best possible system in place or are there practices you could improve?

Nurturing the Talent Pool

Even where there aren't specific opportunities available at the moment, it's imperative to maintain a robust candidate pool. Arguably, developing a candidate pool is a lot easier now than it used to be. "Taking an interactive approach that builds a community based on sharing information with candidates and potential candidates, even if that information is not about specific job openings, keeps your candidate pool responsive," Jimmy Taylor SPHR leading authority and co-founder of Novotus, one of the largest recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, says. "You need to treat the recruiting process like a sales function because it is. The only difference is that you're not selling a product; you're selling the idea of a position."

Developing and engaging with a candidate pool is a two-way street: Candidates must know that eventually joining your team will be a good move. Research shows that once the remuneration package and working conditions boxes have been ticked, candidates will be most interested in how fulfilling the role will be, and what the rest of the team will be like.

Following the logic of developing peoples' talents from the time they walk through the door, there's also a theory that says the right time to develop a candidate pool for a particular role is not when the existing incumbent resigns, but rather before she is even appointed. Stay in touch with prior candidates who may have just missed the final cut, since presumably all the candidates on the short list were potentially capable of being hired and might be equally capable of filling this or other roles in the future.

Employee Referrals

Taylor also suggests maintaining a strong employee referral program. "Your best people are likely to know other high performers, and you want your existing employees to bring those high performers into the fold," Taylor advises.

Most long-time practitioners of internal communications (IC) would agree that the line between human resources and internal communication has become more and more blurred through the years and that HR and IC need to work together. Employees now perceive their employers as brands in much the same way they perceive retail brands, and the line manager is the embodiment of that brand—for better or worse.

Technical Applications

Internally, most organizations have an intranet and collaboration software such as SharePoint and Yammer in place, making it easy to "follow" likely candidates and engage with them, even at a time when there are no particular vacancies.

Externally, social media platforms are an essential hiring tool. Most HR directors agree that LinkedIn is the go-to place for the business community. Often, there are specific LinkedIn groups for professionals who share specialized skills. Software that integrates with social media platforms can help existing employees spread the word that your organization is a great place to work and has available job opportunities. Plant managers must have an active presence on all technology platforms.

Evolution of Practice

Discussing employees' ambitions while providing training or other skills development opportunities can be a game-changer in terms of enhancing the employer brand. One aspect that many managers miss is that few employees in middle or senior management positions consider that role to be the peak of their careers. Coaching and mentorship are critical components of managing your operation, department, or team.

Before recruiting, you may also want to consider whether changing working practices might, even in the short term, help to retain existing talent and lessen the urgency around recruitment. For instance, you could offer a key worker the opportunity to work remotely or adjust his working hours to prevent him from throwing in the towel and moving elsewhere.

Overall, the recruitment process must be holistic, take into consideration changes in society, and take advantage of the rise of technology and social media.


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