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Maybe those brainless single-celled blobs have it right after all...

It certainly has been a while since I've done any active posting, and while I've enjoyed taking in some of the posts and discussions as a lurker figured it is about time I put something out there of my own again.

Over the past couple of months there have been a couple of big wins and some equally disappointing mishaps. Oddly enough, I find myself crediting and blaming the same thing in both instances...the process. My recruiting team has a very well-defined process by which a manager can request a requisition, candidates are sourced, reviewed, and interviewed, an offer is made, and the new employee is on boarded. One of the last hires I had was a textbook example of why the process works. During the approval process of the requisition I was able to get out ahead of the opening and do some proactive networking. Once it was officially open I had candidates at the ready, we moved them seamlessly through the process, and the position was filled in less than 30 days, compared to the 4+ months it took last time.

On the other hand, there is a position which is still in process and has been for over 3 months now. It started with a Friday afternoon phone call from a Director telling me to find a bunch of people and have them ready for interviews by the middle of next week. Oh, and by the way, the position hasn't been approved yet, the location is still up in the air between a couple different states, there isn't a job description, and we can't tell you what the salary package is because we haven't defined it yet for this role. This is the kind of assignment that makes me lose sleep because I can't refuse the work like my counterparts on the TPR side of the business. At first I attempted to persuade this director to follow process and formalize the request, work with the appropriate parties, and make sure all the I's were dotted and T's crossed.

That conversation ended rather abruptly with my opinion not being given much consideration.

As a result making progress was difficult and there have been a few bumps in the road. As was to be expected with this kind of request there have been numerous changes to the position, location, reporting structure, and the role itself. This was initially a very big headache and I allowed it to be more of a problem than it should have been. The issue is that around this time last year the recruiting team got together to hash out the new, improved version of the process and we all agreed to buy into it fully and completely and educate our manager groups how it was to work. I went full steam ahead with this initiative and it worked [nearly] flawlessly until this rather large disturbance.

So what gives?

The process clearly works. I offered proof of the improvements it has to offer, yet this Director did not bend to my will. Clearly I am right and he is wrong, no?

As it turns out I'm not right, and I had a hard time admitting it. I was blinded by the hours my team and I spent writing and re-writing our process to the point that it was very difficult to admit there may be another way to go about this.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded how silly of me this was and that I need to be more adaptable while watching my not-so-guilty pleasure, a mini-series on microscopic life, specifically the ever-changing amoeba. It was like being hit by a brick and I knew exactly what to do - I threw the process out the window and took a wildly different approach with management and candidates alike. I actually found myself saying, "I don't know the answer but I will find out, and by the way, thanks for your patience considering the fluid nature of this process." Strangely enough I was OK with it, and wouldn't you know, we are actually making progress in filling the position.

I am still very much a believer in a process, especially when you have a large organization to recruit for and there is the potential for many hands to be involved in a job. However, I have very recently warmed up to the idea that sometimes the best approach is much less rigid and linear, and more amoeba-like. Those guys are way cool and seem to just roll with the punches, and that is exactly what I needed to remember to do.

Views: 42

Tags: flexibility, process, recruiting

Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on July 28, 2009 at 1:47pm
Gino, great post! What you've described is a scenario most good recruiters will encounter at some point. The essence of managing change in recruiting is being aware of the shortcomings of predefined processes and the applicability of certain ideas and time tested recruiting principles to every situation. This idea of being open with candidates and requesting their commitment to working with a fluid 'needs discovery' and engagement process, once you've been able to convince them that the position and the effort you're putting behind it is real and not just a waste of their time investment, is actually pretty useful if you're lucky to be working with professionals who appreciate your time and effort and are interested in building a solid rapport and working relationship with professionals like yourself. The world is not perfect and as much as we'd like for each position to be filled with minimal disruptions to the magical recruiting workflow, the realization that we're more effective when we're adapting to the needs of the client or just the specific opportunity, is immensely rewarding. It helps when you're able to pull off that extra sweetened deal from the hiring manager for going out of your way to work with his or her process too. That's when the real magic happens.
Comment by Claudia J. Samuelson on July 28, 2009 at 9:02pm
Gino, I love it! It takes a great recruiter to creatively think about the best way to do it. You likely built huge credibility with the hiring manager, made progress in building a talent pipeline, branded your company and learned from your mistake. Love the analogies and the post!

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