Recruiting, as an industry, might be one of the largest “perception businesses” I have ever seen. Through my travels in the Recruitment Process Outsourcing industry I have been invited into a number of corporations (6 Fortune 500 clients, 8 privately held businesses & a handful of mid-sized companies) and regardless of the size of the organization or the number of people they might hire, I smile at the different perceptions that define “success”.
Experience #1: I had the opportunity to work for one of the “Big 4” professional services firms for a short period of time in 2003. I came into this company after a 6-year stint as a “headhunter” with the mentality of “eat what you kill” and my success was defined by the number of people I put to work for the month. After my first month inside this new and cutting edge organization I realized how “different” it was going to be. The new team’s perception of a recruiting leader’s success had minimal to do with the volume of hires that were being produced (I think I helped hire 12 people in my first month) and was defined by the relationships you built with the partners who managed this firm. I continued my feverish pace of screening, interviewing, submitting and coordinating interviews and was met with some internal resistance; a slow down would ya… attitude. I was coached by an internal mentor who said that I should pay attention to my service levels (something I have been good at doing in the past), so I took the advice and watched and learned how catering to my “internal partners” was more important to this organization than the act of “filling requisitions”. As long as the “partners” were happy, everyone else seemed to be happy too.
Lesson: sometimes it isn’t about how fast you move, but how comfortable you can make the people you are supporting.
Experience #2: After a 6-month consulting assignment with the “Big 4” I was recruited back to my first RPO employer and was charged with implementing and delivering a large North American RPO project. I was responsible for hiring a 60 person team, implementing a national process and was charged with hiring 2000+ direct hire engineers across the U.S. for this Fortune 25 client. The client’s HR leadership made a strategic decision to outsource the hiring to our team based on an existing relationship with our organization. Our team traveled from division to division, across the company, talking about the metrics and the service and the processes that we had built (which all looked great on paper), but our delivery struggled early on. We struggled to learn the culture of the company and the essence of what they were searching for. It took our team 6 months before we began to work less than 12 hours per day and as we continued to beat our heads against the wall regarding why things aren’t running as smooth as they could be and it was clear that this client was happy with metrics, meetings and reports; they wanted action! This particular client didn’t care about process or the fancy documents we produced, they cared about finding great talent who would be supporting the new projects their business had accumulated.
Lesson: Process is critical to show a client because it validates your thoughtfulness around “how” you are going to help them, but action (filling jobs) was the only thing inside this client that kept hiring managers and HR leaders happily quiet (very different from my Big 4 exposure), so make sure that your process is strong and your delivery is built to be effective.
I could type stories like this ALL day long with experiences gained and lessons learned and the moral to all of these stories is simple; listen to the people around you. Pay attention to what your clients are searching for and quickly determine what defines “success” inside of the different cultures you may work. What defines success for one client may not be what defines success for another, so be “nimble” with how you build solutions.
Travis Furlow is a Managing Director with Resource Recruiting and Learning Solutions and he has been in the recruiting industry for 15 years. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to him at email@example.com or leave a note at www.fearlessleadership.wordpress.com .