Recruiting in the broadest sense is the activity of acquiring new employees to fill a job “from the outside.”
Filling jobs internally is usually referred to as transferring, reassigning, or promoting people. Recruitment will be more intensive if the job to be filled is “permanent.”
Temporary hires and the act of engaging contractors to do a job tend to be less demanding because mistakes can be more easily corrected. But every serious organization looks at “new hires” as adding an important resource.
The higher the responsibilities associated with the new job or the higher the skills required to do it, the more difficult the process will be. Recruiting, narrowly considered, consists of the first two steps in the total hiring process itself, which consists of 1) job definition and description, 2) sourcing of individuals by various means, 3) interviewing employees, 4) selection of individuals, 5) making the offer and negotiating the details, and 6) introducing the new employee and providing necessary initial training if that is required.
Elsewhere in this volume the hiring process is treated as a whole under the heading of Employee Hiring.
Recruiting, the front end of the process, will be discussed more fully here: the shaping of the entire effort and then the creation and narrowing of a pool of candidates for consideration.
Job Definition Recruiting is usually triggered when an employee resigns or is released or when the workload grows and makes the need for additional help obvious.
Replacing existing employees is relatively easier because the function to be fulfilled by the new hire is well-known and therefore easy to describe. Depending on the level of administrative formality practiced by the small business, a job description may already exist; if the job was created by a recruitment process a few years or months earlier, the text of the original recruitment ads may still be around. Setting about the job definition, therefore, is relatively easy. It requires review, of course, and possibly updating and revision, especially if the job “evolved” during its history and the person now being replaced carries out different tasks than those for which he or she was originally engaged.
Brand-new jobs need definition. This task is often neglected, however, because managers simply assume they know exactly what they want. If neglected, the job definition may impede recruitment. It may fail to highlight aspects of a job that will attract people and weed out others. A nursery, for instance, may need a groundskeeper expected to wait on customers in rush periods— but this task is never mentioned. Some candidates who like to interact with people may find this feature attractive; others, of a more solitary temperament, may find this part of the job an imposition and may therefore not work out. Another example might be a computer expert who is expected to work very closely with clients to discover what they need: hence communications skills and ability to negotiate are as vital a skill as making the machine do wonders. In real life such obvious aspects may be more difficult to predict in advance—but will emerge with a little effort at visualizing the job. A good job definition, in turn, will help in the next steps.
Identifying Candidates In the vast majority of cases, canvassing for candidates takes the form of advertisements published in papers or posted on the Internet.
The job definition is used as the basis for writing such texts. Beyond qualifications sought, the business usually includes additional features, in however abbreviated a form, such as something about benefits or, optionally, salary and wages, something about itself (“leading equipment seller to the elderly,” “hard-charging direct sales org.”) and something that might attract (or for that matter pre-select) candidates (“pleasant rural setting,” “extensive travel,” “significant promotional potential”).
When the company is attempting to recruit highlevel executives or professional skills, it may elect to use recruiting firms to do the canvassing job. In such cases also, the profile of the individual sought is almost always in written form but more extensive: the job description itself is provided to the recruiter along with information about the company, its strategies, and current needs.
Similarly, the recruitment effort may take place at job fairs where the company has its own booth. In such situations one or more packets may be prepared to hand out to candidates who, after some discussion, appear to the company’s representative as “possibles” or “promising.”
Businesses occasionally discover that the market for people is rather competitive. In such cases, as Jennifer Wilson wrote in Accounting Today regarding financial experts and information technology (IT) staffs, a marketing approach must be utilized, meaning a multiple-channel advertising strategy. Bruce Markus, writing in New Jersey Law Journal, essentially echoed the same sentiments in the context of smaller law firms attempting to recruit lawyers.
Identifying candidates also takes places by informal word-of-mouth channels—and this at every level of skill and pay. Managers of a company may “put out the word” to friends, vendors, and customers that they are seeking someone for this or that job. The owner may “make a few calls” to potential candidates or those who might know such people. Most managers have received calls in which they are the target but the caller asks if they know someone with such and such qualifications.
However the job is accomplished, the objective at this stage is to build up a reasonable pool of good leads who can then be subject to— The Screening Process No matter how much effort a business expends on writing the perfect employment ad—carefully worded, complete, informative, precise— the usual result is a flood of resumes most of which are way off the mark. A screening process thus becomes necessary. Depending on the manager’s temperament, selecting good candidates may be a painful experience: it is painful (even if necessary) rapidly to put aside what may have been hours of effort by a foolishly hopeful but obviously careless person to apply for a job he or she is not qualified to fill. The most difficult cases are those where a certain doubt creeps in—and the manager sets the resume on the “reject” pile wondering if this person might be the candidate if a little effort is expended. Again depending on the situation, a fairly rigorous and quick decision process is needed to reduce a bagful of mail to the dozen or so survivors. In cases of genuine doubt, managers sometimes show the resumes to others and are often relieved when the consulted colleague breaks into gales of laughter.
Sometimes, alas, the resumes are less than truthful— so much so that the Small Business Administration features a Web page titled “How to Spot a Lie on a Resume or Application.” Based on SBA’s advice, lies on a resume are difficult to spot at the screening stage. But if a resume gets past the screening, the lies can be exposed during interviews and rigorous checking of references later— beyond what we here label the front-end recruiting effort.
In the case of potential candidates presented by employment firms, the “head hunters,” preliminary screening has already taken place: resumes sent by the recruiter typically represent qualifying candidates in the recruiter’s opinion. Candidates sent by friends and colleagues can be checked out through these very people.
And at job fairs someone in the company has usually conducted a preliminary interview.
Recruiting, narrowly considered (as in this article), usually either ends with the selection of individuals to invite for an interview or, sometimes, with a preliminary telephone call in which the manager sometimes “feels out” the candidate, asks a few clarifying questions, and, on the spot, makes a decision on whether or not the employee should be invited for an interview. Such calls can often be rather revealing and move the candidate “up” in the rankings, into the reject pile, or off the list—in cases where the promising candidate tells the manager that he or she has just taken another job.
Resumes, however useful, are ultimate pieces of paper and not flesh and blood.