My personal campaign…or pick an ethos, any ethos.


Every so often, I start a new personal campaign at work. It’s not intentional and it usually has to do with the type of work I am proud (or not) to put my name on. It all starts with me noticing something that seems just a little off or counter-intuitive, then I start asking questions (to myself and anyone else that will actually make eye contact with me when this is going on), then I develop a position and then I evangelize it. Recently, I realized that this is a cycle for me and I can think back on different stages of my career and what my campaign was at that time. I believe that companies derive value from people that do this (passion, trying things differently, critical thinking, etcetera) but I will admit that it has gotten me into trouble a time or two. Heck, Bill Gates does this (not that I could even stand in the shadow if his greatness, but…). Well anyway, now I have a blog and I have gotten to the evangelism stage of my new campaign so watch out ; )I’m sure there are some armchair psychologists out there that will have a field day with this one.


Let me give you an example of one of my campaigns. When I started in the Staffing industry, I was placing accounting temps on jobs.Very often, the client actually had a full-time position to fill. The temp was intended to fill in the gap while our firm or someone else filled the job on a full-time basis. Frequently, the role was stated as officially “temp to perm” meaning that if the client liked the temp they would hire them into the full-time role. Oftentimes this would happen even if the role was not designated as “temp to perm”…the client just loved the temp and wanted to keep them. Oh, also important to add that we were paid a commission and the pay-out on a full-time hire was more than on temp billings (cha-ching!). So knowing that the money was in the permanent hire and that the clients could end up hiring my temps (um, yeah and being focused on customer sat and doing the right thing for everyone involved…hello!), I started to wonder why the people placing the temps didn’t work extremely hard to ensure that they were sending the “just right” person. It ended up being a campaign for me…I talked about it with my peers and managers and worked extra hours to put it into action and it paid off. It was a theme that I applied to doing my job.


Last year, my theme was (and still is to a certain extent), about doing the RIGHT work. Often, in the recruiting industry, we confuse activity with strategy (please don’t ask me what my blogging strategy is…not one more time…it’s not a strategy after all). It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype around the “new thing” (blogging anyone?), without knowing why you are doing it…specifically, what business problem we are trying to solve (got this figured out with the blogging thing though, thanks). The right work is about doing the right thing for the business and for candidates and it involves doing the work the right way (efficiently, cost effectively, involving the right people). I’ve been in situations where I had to push back (I know…me! Can you believe it?) because I felt like the work that I was being asked to do wasn’t the right work or I wasn’t the right person to be doing it. For example, one thing that central sourcing teams (like mine) get asked to do is help with “hard-to-fill” positions. And as much as I  am excited by the challenge of the hunt for the right candidate, some of these positions are “hard-to-fill” for reasons that have nothing to do with the charter of my immediate work group (candidate outreach). Sometimes positions are hard to fill because the hiring manager has unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it’s because they hiring group is not responsive. Sometimes it’s because the role has not been adequately scoped. So these are the types of things I feel good about pushing back on because they don’t meet the criteria for working on the right things. And the person on the receiving end of the push back maybe not liking it as much as I do.


I feel a new campaign brewing…it’s been happening for a while and it has to do with relationships and trust. And really it has a lot to do with how we (recruiters, companies, etc.) can do better. It’s really gelled for me while I have been thinking about how we can effectively get our employees that have MBAs to refer people they know from school or previous work (because those people will likely also have MBAs and/or have strong skills). Where I think many corporations and referral programs fall short is actually building trust with the people that they want to get the referrals from. It’s all take and no give because “we don’t provide feedback” or “we get too many resumes to follow up with everyone individually”. It’s one thing if you are talking about your career site, but it’s something else entirely if you are reaching out to these people and actually asking for referrals. You are telling them that you want them to send you high quality people that they have relationships with. As if those high quality people don’t want expect to be followed-up with? As if the referring employee is going to damage their relationship with the candidate by saying “yes, please go to the trouble of sending me your resume and in return I can guarantee you that nothing specifically will happen with it”? Sheesh, it alienates both the referrer and the candidate…we can do better! I think it’s time to stop expecting employees to refer people believing that no follow-up is owed. Time to stop telling people to submit their trusted friends and associates through a web site. This is my new campaign and I am going to share it with whomever will listen. And by the way, if a Microsoft employee sends me a referral for marketing or finance (caveat: person must have a marketing or finance background…that is my space), I will follow up.


Passion or side effect of thinking too much? You decide.


Taking a big deep breath now.


</soapbox>

Comments (11)

  1. Smart Alec says:

    Soapbox is a container tag. Therefore, a close soapbox tag must be preceeded by an open soapbox tag.

    Example:

    <soapbox>

    Passionate opiniated current campaign tirade.

    </soapbox>

    HTH.

  2. joemontana says:

    About the new campaign: Congratulations.

    I think it is a great approach.

    Even if you can not find a placement for the referred candidate she or he might still have another contact or might be a great candidate in the future.

    Referring a friend or fellow employee and hearing nothing afterwards should be considered as a sin.

    PS: You seem to be a potential "Black Belt" of Six Sigma…:)

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    smart alec-yeah, I guess I’d care if I was actually writing html. I thought it was obvious that this was for dramatic effect and not meant to be technically accurate code. Sorry, people coming on my blog to correct my spelling or my html really makes me grouchy. I prefer comments that add to the conversation, not having my hand slapped for not including a tag. This isn’t my dissertation…it’s a blog.

  4. Nathan says:

    I think smart alec just forgot the </smartass> tag at the end of his post. <wink>

  5. jorge says:

    mmm – ye ok – good idea to focus on referers and referrals… perhaps a bit to jobster-ish for my liking these days, but enough to encourage me to think about my bugbear which is how do we deal better with the shortlisted people that did not get the job, the numbers 2 and 3 who went all the way and missed by this much… is it just stupid to play santa on miracle on 34th street and send them to companyX if i haven’t got anything for them? (now that i write it, it sounds pretty stupid), or do I set up a bench?, or do I establish an alumni-like group to keep them warm? mmm

  6. joemontana says:

    to: jorge & heather (since it is her blog 🙂 ). I like the idea of the "alumni" group of the 2. and 3. candidate. What do you think about a network, where those candidates are being presented (anonym.) and fellow recruiters can contact you in order to contact them and vice versa…A referal network for recruiters by recruiters where only candidate nr.2 – nr.3 are listed.

  7. What an awesome idea…it would definitely lift you up in the eyes of your second and third place candidates – that you are willing to refer them to another recruiter when you are unable to place them…they would remember that when referring a recruiter to their friends…

    It would be great if you could put in place a "referral agreement" – if recruiter 2 places recruiter 1’s second choice candidate, recruiter 1 would receive a small "referral fee". Alot of recruiters are doing this for candidates, why not also do it for fellow recruiters?

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jorge-Jobster didn’t invent referrals, they just automated them; which is actually the opposite of the approach I endorse. I would definitely consider sending your #2 and 3 candidates to a recruiter at another company (with the candidate’s permission, of course). That turns them into a networking contact. In my experience, a couple good connectors can be better than having a couple good candidates. As far as the bench idea, stromg performers won’t be happy "on the bench" for long (I used to recruit for consulting). But if you are talking about pipelining, yes, that is where the relatinships come in (and what we are doing here). As far as alumni groups, your stronger candidates are going to want to keep their search anonymous. What about just setting up an e-mail folder for your future interest candidates and going through it regularly to touch base with people?

    Jenelle-the referral thing won’t float in the corporate world but many third party recruiters split fees if someone helped them fill the position. I like the way you think ; ) In that situation, what ends up being best for the recruiter is what’s best for the candidate as well…talk about a win/win.

  9. Russ says:

    Passion and never apoligize or rationalize.

    It takes passion to want to take the time to take things apart and put them back together in a more effective and efficient manner. Bill’s a leader and part of being a leader is evangelizing. So spread the "word".;0

    The right work is about doing the right thing for the business and for candidates and it involves doing the work the right way (efficiently, cost effectively, involving the right people). I’ve been in situations where I had to push back (I know…me! Can you believe it?) because I felt like the work that I was being asked to do wasn’t the right work or I wasn’t the right person to be doing it. For example, one thing that central sourcing teams (like mine) get asked to do is help with "hard-to-fill" positions. And as much as I am excited by the challenge of the hunt for the right candidate, some of these positions are "hard-to-fill" for reasons that have nothing to do with the charter of my immediate work group (candidate outreach). Sometimes positions are hard to fill because the hiring manager has unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it’s because they hiring group is not responsive. Sometimes it’s because the role has not been adequately scoped. So these are the types of things I feel good about pushing back on because they don’t meet the criteria for working on the right things.

    – OH yeah, I’ve been in that dingy before. How about that scope definition ? MMMM, I wanted my hamburger with cheese and lettuce, but I will just say I want a hamburger becaue I haven’t really thought it through. Hey, no problem I’ll make you a burger, when you know what you want on it.

    University Relations – I handle all mine individually, feedback on each one individually and actually ask how I can add value, communicate and say hello when I don’t want something. That is relationship building, the common courtesy to say "You at least attempted to help us and the least I can do is share how it went so we both can improve."

    This campaign has bottom line merit, this is a good crusade, there is a great deal of mileage here to shape thoughts beneficially.

    Stay passionate, if you are picking your shots this is a good place to dwell for a while.

  10. Gautam says:

    One of the most intense things I do in any organization I join is try to find out what openings are there and see if any of my friends meet the criteria and are interested.

    So while being in HR I do not get any referral bonuses, I am still delighted to be of help for both sides of the candidate/employee experience

    Yes, not getting back to a referral candidate is bad, because it sends out negative perceptions about my organization and even about me. Once that happens too much, I stop refering my friends.

  11. Curtis says:

    Heather, you’re blog above is very appropriate to recruiters. I’ve been around "awhile" in the business, and unfortunately over the last 10 years or so, it seems people’s perception on recruiters has changed. It use to be that anyone I called (cold or warm) was excited to hear from an executive recruiter. They knew that we (recruiters) were the one group of people that could truly move them forward in their career. They knew that their conversation with us wasn’t going to be a one time thing, but knew that it was the beginning of a very long relationship. I don’t recruit people to "a job", but to a better position for them now, and also again later on in their career as well. A recruiter’s network is only as good as the trust they obtain from their "candidates". But as of the last few years (and no offense to anyone specifically), there has been an influx of people into recruiting that aren’t truly recruiters.

    Recruiting has been, is, and always will be about relationships. Yes, the money is what drives the best recruiters (and believe me, it drives me as well). But some of the best contacts that I have, are people that I wasn’t able to place, but stayed in contact with regardless. To this day, even though they are at "x" company and not mine, when I need to find talent, I can call on these people and they will freely give me names.

    I was raised by the words "Don’t just work hard, but work smart. If you work smart, you’ll accomplish much more than those that work hard".

    "Smart" in this business is all about realtionships and trust. If someone refers a candidate and no contact is made, then a change needs to be made…

    You’re on the right track.