Want to Hire Better People, Quicker for Less $$? For Better Results, Resolve to Sharpen Your Focus

By J. James O’Malley, Former Andersen National Director of Experience Recruiting,

Jim joined TalentRISE as a partner in 2012 to focus on clients’ executive leadership challenges by leveraging his passions for executive search, on-demand recruiting, workforce planning and analytics and executive coaching. jimomalley@talentrise.com

Consider this:

  • A2015 survey by CareerBuilder, found that 24% of hiring managers, HR professionals and other full-time workers admitted they spend at least an hour a day on personal email, texts and personal calls.
  • A study by Weekdone, finds that the average office worker gets interrupted every three minutes. After the interruption, getting back on task can take up to 23 minutes which can cost a business an average of $10,375 in lost productivity per person per year.
  • A now classic study of managers published in the Harvard Business Review found that 40% (the largest percentage) of managers are “well-intentioned, highly energetic but unfocused people who confuse frenetic motion with constructive action. When they’re under pressure, [they] feel a desperate need to do something—anything.” These distracted managers, the study concluded, lack “the deep focus that’s crucial for strategically guiding a business and its employees”.
  • Recognizing the connection between focus and productivity, a growing number of companies are joining Google, SAP and others in conducting courses combining meditation, emotional intelligence and neuroscience to help employees increase their focus.

In today's world, it’s very easy to get distracted. And as new information channels become available to us, distractions will only increase.

As a recruitment professional with a career spanning several decades, I have personally witnessed dozens (and dozens) of times when distraction negatively impacted the hiring process. Unfortunately I’ve collected way too many “war stories” on how firms have let great talent slip through their fingers because either the hiring manager or the recruiter was too distracted. In most firms, both parties share the blame. However, if your firm wants to hire great talent at lower costs, avoid making hiring mistakes and get ahead of the competition, the one resolution you need to make in 2016 is to focus.

It’s not easy. So here are a few tips specific to recruitment, beyond standard time management skills, that I believe will add needed focus to your recruitment efforts:

For the Recruitment Function Leader:

  • Structure your recruiting department in such a way that everyone does what they are best at doing. Allow your team members, for example, to specialize in one area of recruitment, such as researching candidates or conducting the initial screening. This specialization will allow your recruiters to become really proficient at what they are best at doing. In my experience, this specialized focus - almost without exception - results in increased productivity for the recruitment team as a whole.
  • Constantly ask yourself, “Am I spending too much time pursuing a course of action that is not yielding results?” If a particular search doesn't yield candidates after 30 days, change course!
  • Don’t take on more than is reasonable. Recruiters have a tendency to want to say “yes” more often than “no”. If you must say “yes”, ask for funding for outside, on-demand recruitment expertise or search firms.
  • Develop and articulate a step-by-step recruitment process for your firm. This roadmap, complete with timelines, is useful as a way to educate hiring managers on the process and thereby agree to mutually binding SLAs (more on that later).
  • In conjunction with the above, establish metrics that are specific to your firm’s talent needs and measure your results in a disciplined fashion so that you can modify the roadmap when, and if, it needs refinement.

For the Hiring Manager:

  • Even as busy as you are delivering client work, never forget that your greatest asset is your team. Recruiting the right team members translates into a high-performing team. Recruiting less-than-optimal talent means that you and everyone else on your team will need to work harder. This seems obvious but, in the frenzy of client work, we need to remember how important having the “right” people really is.
  • Be as specific as possible in articulating your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves”. What trade-offs,for instance, are you willing to make in the event a good candidate doesn’t have as many years of experience as you desire but does have sterling credentials?But be realistic as well: too often“must-have” qualifications, from a practical standpoint, either do not exist in the market, are cost-prohibitive or only available at apremium price. No matter how good your recruiter is, these are positions that aren’t going to get filled...
  • Allocate sufficient time to the hiring process. Recruitment shouldn’t be an afterthought. Expect to spend at least 40-50 hours hiring a director-level executive.
  • Rely on your recruitment manager to provide you with time-saving tools to ease the process. In my experience, any competent recruitment leader should be sharing, for example, well-constructed interview questions specific to your practice’s needs with everyone involved in the hiring process. The same holds true for checklists and other assessment tools that allow you to compare and contrast the skills and cultural fit of multiple frontrunners.

For both:

  • Establish and adhere to SLAs to govern the process, set expectations on timing and clarify responsibilities for both recruiters and hiring managers. SLAs ensure that someone else’s lack of focus doesn’t impede your work.

Ultimately, even a bit more attention focused on recruitment will result in better talent. You’ll spend less time spinning your wheels while your competitors hire the best candidate. Great candidates won’t be dissuaded from joining your team because the interviewing process seemed so disorganized or convoluted.And, because time is indeed money in the professional services sector, getting great hires on board will be more cost-effective.Less distraction and more focus are bound to result in better hiring.