Staffing Leadership

The world of Community Management is least ours is.

The title Community Manager didn't even exist 5 years ago, well it did but in a totally different industry.  Anyway, the world of online, digital, or "inbound" marketing is evolving everyday, every hour, and even sometimes within minutes.  One of the ways we try to keep up with the trends is by having the best people working on the things they enjoy the most.  In this case we're speaking of Community Managers.  Not just social media managers, but true authentic "Community" Managers.  It's a true DNA match for a PeopleOps Community Manager to be architecting and maintaining talent communities.  Here's a graphic describing the difference. 


My recent post on Blogging4Jobs: 10 Common Social Recruiting & Internet Sourcing Myths BUSTED

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The Slow Agonizing Death of the Job Post

Why the professional job post is dead:


The $50k and up professional job postings are soon to be completely obsolete as job searching becomes a more social process.  The only way for this to not become a reality is if Applicant Tracking Systems stop existing as the black hole of recruiting, and  start becoming real people responding to candidates.  The result comes from the fact that social media is not only changing it for the candidate, but for the recruiting function as well. 

Historically, 2% of online applicants at any tier-one technology firm result in an actual hire.  However, the highest ratio of candidate to hire is from employee referral.  By making job searching social, the theory is that it will help filter down the number of applicants and lift up the number of referred applicants.  

If this occurs, and I believe it will, the number of overall applicants will be manageable. Additionally, because they are going to be likely tied to an internal team member, managing that interaction from a human perspective will be organic.  

So how does this tie into the Method Manifesto?  It’s the acknowledgment that sourcing is no longer just about building a pipeline for the present.  More and more companies want a pipeline of cultivated candidates from likely skill sets, so when the inevitable role opens, the staffing department is ready to go.

How do you do that?  Sensing this has been coming, major job boards are already touting that you can use their platforms to build your candidate pool.  I believe this is bogus, because a pool of candidates primarily with just active seekers seems highly ineffective.  I am not saying active seekers cannot be good employees, of course they can, but by the vary nature of the action they are seeking when you are ready they will likely not be.  The key is to develop these networks with potential candidates based strictly on profile with a mix of active and passive personalities.

So why are job boards dead?  In the next couple years, a new post in pushed candidates will respond, likely because of retweets and network referrals, not because they saw the job on a job board.  Under $50k job opportunities, excluding internships, will be business as usual...for now. 


Your Customer Service and Public Relations Department’s ‘Trojan Horse’

 Prasanth is an out of work Product Manager.  He has a Computer Science degree from a state school that is not a top 20.  Even though he got a 4.0 GPA while working full time at a local tech company, he is still discounted among the elite companies in the space.  He has tried his hand at startups and found that he is more of a big company guy. The only problem is big companies don’t want to hire him. It’s a combination of being out of work for such a long time, his degree not high leveled enough, and found to be a little bit OCD.  


       He finally scores an interview with a top 10 tech company.  He arrives for his three part interview, only to be asked to leave after the first part.  Feeling jaded, he stops by his local Starbucks and starts tweeting while sipping his coffee to hopefully cheer himself up. Who is he tweeting to?  He is tweeting to his friends inside the company that just booted him out. He is tweeting to other colleagues holding an offer letter between that company and a hot new startup.  He is tweeting to his professors, who take it personally that the company does not think his curriculum is up to speed, resulting in educating his students to not waste their time interning at this company.  He is also tweeting to his blogger friends, involved in writing an interesting section on how companies treat  employees, future candidates, and people in general.  

     It sounds like he tweeted hundreds, and in effect, tens of thousands of people.  While this is true, the main concept to recognize is that it took only one single tweet to reach this audience.  When we live in a society where the most obscure dude living in his mom’s basement can create a social media nightmare for a company, imagine what an educated and networked candidate can do!

     Recruiting departments are the un-checked customer service juggernaut.  Too often they are guilty of dismissing candidates with poorly written and non-human form letters during the interview process, or even 10 minutes after the first initiated call.  Staffing firms are not resourced enough to handle that kind of scale; in 2012 and beyond they will have to be for greater success.

    Let’s make a test case for one single search.  Your company hiring manager needs a new Software Engineer.  So you post online, internally, and have your internal recruiting team start working on it.  After a few weeks, the hiring manager is still not finding that perfect candidate.  So the recruiting team sends it out to a couple of search firms.  Within a couple days, solid candidates are put into process, and the interview process begins.  About a dozen candidates are phone screened, and as the process shrinks to the field, to three candidates that are brought onsite.  One candidate is made an offer while the other two are kept in the dark until the recruiter knows the choice candidate accepts for sure, then the other 2 are released by getting sent a form letter.

   To hire one new candidate, your company had to tell approximately 100 candidates ‘No’.  Considering we are living in the first wave of gold spray painted plastic trophy toasting, super hero, rock star generation, my educated guess is you now have 100 customers that will likely not shop with you again.

    Luckily, most people will not accept this denial and keep trying two or three other attempts, in vain, to get hired at your company.

   I am not suggesting you hire them all.  I am suggesting you treat them throughout the process like a real human that you will have to speak to the next day ,or better yet, want to sell something too the next day.  Treat them as if it was your mother being referred to the company.  Coddle?  Yes man, I am saying to coddle! 

Talent Acquisition Services

Starting in 2012, PeopleOps will begin to build out several distinct services that will work in concert to provide a comprehensive approach to talent acquisition services.


Our core service, candidate sourcing, will be called PeopleOps | DNA.  We thought this name was appropriate as sourcing is truly the building block of all we do.  PeopleOps | DNA provides dedicated candidate sourcing for companies of all sizes.  Our fee structure changes to reflect the needs of startups, mid-size, and enterprise level customers. 

We also have an emerging passion to architect scalable communities around brands and departments.  To combat the rising cost and increasing ineffectiveness of paid job advertising, we have created a crowd recruiting solution called PeopleOps | ACA (Authentic Community Architecture).  Our ACA team will work with companies of all sizes to build sustainable social assets that will decrease the need for paid job advertising while increasing candidate quality. We do this by creating real social media communities utilizing numerous platforms to create a candidate pool of highly targeted passive candidates that are directly or indirectly engaged with a clients brand or department.

PeopleOps has also long been a proponent of concierge level executive search.   In 2012 we are recommitting ourselves to this service.  Our now called PeopleOps | CXO will cater to business critical searches with a salary level of $250k and up.  In this search, an unmatched level of attention is provided to the search, the hiring manager, and to the candidate experience. 


How Social Media is Changing the Staffing Game from the Ground Up

Disruption seems to be the name of the game in both social media and the collective business world.  From Apple completely changing the game for record companies to smaller disruptions like how we invoice, get merchant accounts, or pretty soon even how we bank.



Social Media disruption has also spread into other areas like customer service.  Forcing companies to suddenly be more accountable.  Why should we expect anything less to happen in staffing.  

I have been beating this drum for the better part of a year that the coming storm for recruiting is almost here.  Staffing serves as the trojan horse for marketing.  Why?  No other department, including customer service, touches more influential people every day then your front line recruiters.  Its not the candidates that you hire that is the concern, its the average of 100+ per requirement that you do not hire.  How was that candidate treated, where they followed up with, where they dismissed with a simple form letter ,etc.  Based on my experience with a large pool of Fortune 1000s plus many startups, many cases this is exactly what happens every day.

So we are living in the age when the most obscure introvert living in his Mom’s basement in Nebraska can create a social media nightmare for a fast food chain...doesn’t this mean the candidate that was just dismissed whom for all intents and purposes is vastly more connected, credible, and articulate couldn’t light your brand up online?  

The answer I hear most (from the largest of companies) is we do not have the resource to scale like that.  When companies are spending hundreds of dollars per post on paid job postings that for the sweeping majority do not produce candidates they are likely to hire anyway, why not convert some of that money into real jobs for people to be able to scale that.  Think of every dismissed candidate as an opportunity, because remember in today’s marketing Candidates are also Customers! 


Leveraging Time for Talent Acquisition from a Leadership Perspective

Too often as hiring managers, we are constantly conflicted between what kinds of candidates we want to hire and what we can afford to hire in our budgets. Many times we try to make staffing or our agencies force candidates into this role that really should be paid more.


   The backlash from this is we set up our new hires to be short term from the beginning. If you undervalue a candidate in the hire, they will promptly begin their search for their next gig.  

     This section however is not about hiring candidates for the long term, although perhaps it should be.  Rather, it's about how to leverage your time to get the best candidates available for your role in the least amount of time. 

     One thing you should consider is to employ the 20:5:2:1 ratio.  First carefully identify your five “Musts” for you role.  What do you REALLY need this role to do for you?  What background should the candidate come from?  Which group of competitors?  Is education important? Etc.  

     Once your role is clearly defined into 5-10 “Musts”, then hand this search to three people and only three people.  Your best performing team member that reports to you, your recruiter or sourcer, and to your assistant (who will help you reach out to your own network).  Between the three parties a total of 20 candidates should enter the process within 10 business days.  

      Interview all 20. Why? Well, as leadership, we have to understand that every candidate is a customer first.  If someone who was not looking for a new job was approached by your staff or by your recruiter to end up not even getting a call back, there will be a mental tarnish for your company, for at least the rest of that candidates career.  Now, if that candidate tweets or Facebooks about their experience then your in real trouble.  When we live in a society where the most obscure guy living in his mom’s basement in Iowa can cause complete brand disruption for any given company image, think of what a candidate with a legitimate and on context social graph could do.  Truth is, it's the right thing to do. Also, consider this: Most people are really bad at writing resumes. Getting to know someone face to face, even for a 15 minute coffee chat will give you far better context then a resume or a Linkedin profile.

   Select the top 5.  Interview them a second time and have your key team member interview them as well for cultural fit.  This is when you should start getting into the nuts and bolts of the project, gaging genuine personalities, aptitude, and overall potential continuity.  

    Cut it down to top 2.  Now it's time for dinner, golf, sporting event, something.  Depending on the level of the search you may want to opt for something higher end but at the very least, buy the candidate a coffee outside of the office.  Here you should pre-close, make sure compensation is in line and get your pre-on boarding questions out of the way so there are no surprises.  Now pull the trigger!  The greatest risk is doing nothing.  

This entire process should take less then 30 days and require a total of 10.5 hours of your attention.  Consider the impact of this hire or even better, the impact of what another search a few months from now would take... 


Understanding the Context of the Candidate

   Why there is such a disconnect in understanding that the consumers ARE the candidates.  If you want to know the best way to reach candidates, look at what the best consumer companies are doing.  

   Take for instance, Apple.  They are among the top brands in cult-like following and Apple is the king of subtle disruptions.  This past March (2011), I was at South By Southwest (SXSW) when Apple was launching the iPad2.  SXSW brings together some of the most forward thinking social media and tech companies. They discuss cutting edge and even sometimes barely existing technologies.  Apple did not have a booth or a logo at SXSW.  What they DID have is a pop up store in downtown Austin ,about 4 blocks away from SXSW.  So, the day the iPad2 launched, guess where a ton of people were? You got it! They were not in breakout sessions that they or their companies paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for them to be at.  Rather, they were standing in line, a hundred people deep, tweeting away about the iPad2.  Apple won SXSW without even being there.  


  Alright, so what is the connection to this anecdote and the consumer and candidate?  Priority.  Keep in mind, the people waiting in line at the pop up mac store were not just run of the mill consumers. These were the normally passive candidates within the social media space that recruiters fight over on Linkedin and other online platforms.  So why were they in line?  Because they wanted an iPad2.  Apple knew there ultra-targeted customers would likely be at SXSW so they made it easy for them to get there hands on one.  Consumers crave authenticity, relevance, solid actual results, and low barrier’s of entry.  That same consumer is also your next great hire.  

How do you create a recruiting context that matches this culture? 

  1. Be Authentic:  Kill the corporate vomit that is on the job requirements.  Write what you would want to read.  Why your company is cool, why you have good people, what you are really looking for, and why YOU think they should be interested.  Couple that with a quick YouTube interview with the hiring manager talking about the requirement... unedited.  
  2. Is it a Good Job:  If you are trying to pitch a mediocre job then go back and make it not mediocre.  You do not have to pay top of market to win the day but if you want the guy at your competitors, you need to ask yourself why would someone leave to come to you.  If your answer is, because my company is better, then you have lost.  It HAS to be because my job is better, and if it's not, you need to make it better.
  3. Lower the Barriers of Entry: Does your Applicant Tracking System suck?  The answer is most likely yes.  I understand that due to compliance laws, we have to have some forms of applications.  However, you should make the application process, at least on the front end, something they can do with a simple email or maybe logging in to use their Linkedin resume-like profile.  Oh and while I am at it, please start taking LI profiles as resumes, its good enough! 

5 Must-Have Characteristics of a Recruiting/Sourcing Vendor

Sourcing and recruiting for businesses are critical, hard to find skill sets that takes time. It also takes a lot of domain knowledge. It can be hard for businesses to find the necessary time or internal resources to learn and/or implement winning passive sourcing efforts and authentic social media messaging (to name a couple) for themselves. In these cases, businesses can reach out to a third-party agency to manage their candidate development efforts. Consider these 5 must-have characteristics when evaluating an agency partnership.

1. The Right Services

Saying "agency" is really a disservice to the Talent Acquisition industry.  The question is what is your need?  Do you need to hire lots and lots of standard qualification employees? Then a U.S. based RPO might be right for you.  Do you have one critical hire you need to make but have a super strict budget? Then a contingency agency could be the right call.  Maybe you have a fairly consistent need for a tier 1 candidate pipeline for a specific business group that complains a lot? That could be when you tap the services of a tactical sourcing team like PeopleOps.

2. A Clear Process

Project results on whitepapers and company case studies are great, but the real value of an agency's involvement will be in how they put, not only how they fill the business critical roles, but the additional added value of how they work with the hiring authorities.  Recruiting or Sourcing agencies should be able to clearly lay out and explain the candidate development methodology for prospective clients. Being able to clearly show you the order in which things need to happen and the amount of time and resources required at each step. This will indicate that the agency has delivered ROI to clients before. Thus, you will also be able to infer that it has the game plan to do it again for your company.

3. An Emphasis on Measurement

Words like "metrics", "benchmarks" and "analytics" should be peppered throughout your prospective agency's pitch. Progress made toward your goals should to be measured at every step of the way, and a recruiting agency worth its weight will be able to track all campaigns, direct sourcing efforts, candidate flow and report on performance regularly. You have goals. You are trying to meet those goals by hiring the agency. Therefore, it should be as focused as you are, charting success in an undeniable, data-driven way. 

4. Strong Project Management Skills

Recruiting is fueled by the creation of remarkable content aimed at your ideal candidates, compelling direct sourcing initiatives, and authentic messaging. In order to be successful, good recruiting/sourcing agencies will need to get inside your hiring managers head to build that content and learn about that dream candidate. Do the agencies you're considering have the process and communication skills to make you think they will make reasonable and realistic requests of your hiring authorities? Also, have they set clear expectations around what each step in the candidate development and attraction process will require in terms of time and resources? Do you get the impression that they can manage campaigns with lots of moving parts? A good agency will make your life easier; not the opposite.

5. An Online Presence Optimized for Top Talent

Does the agency you're considering blog regularly? What is its own internal recruiting initiatives like? Are there optimized landing pages and premium content offers throughout its site? An effective recruiting or sourcing agency should be its own best case study. Think twice about engaging with a recruiting firm that doesn't make the services it sells a priority for its own business.


Best in Breed; Not Necessarily Best Available

In today’s market, with unemployment rates nearly doubled in the last twelve months and the number of potential candidates for job openings steadily rising, it has become extremely difficult for hiring managers and recruiters to find the best potential employee. While sources such as mainstream job boards provide a hiring manager a large applicant pool to fill potential job openings, there is a wealth of vastly more targeted candidates who are often missed. There are a number of other sources to find the true “Best in Breed” candidates. Sources such as LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Spoke, as well as a wealth of individualized professional sites and forums give a trained sourcer a huge source of potential candidates to tap into. At PeopleOps, we have found especially for difficult areas such as for specialized law firms, computer science based engineering, etc… finding on-the-money candidates is the only way to provide true value. With these top quality candidates, We are able to present to our hiring authority a clear picture of the best applicants available. Having worked closely with hiring authorities, we know the time constraints placed on them. Hiring authorities are often busy with pressing job requirements and just simply do not have the time to “cut through the noise” and find the best-qualified candidate.


Context Sourcing

  If content is king then 'CONTEXT' is the Kingslayer and about to overthrow him.  As social media is becoming more like a 1938 style "my [virtual] handshake is my bond", so too will the way organizations recruit talent. 


   Context within Content. is content...Iphone User Group, that's context.  Context is the layer that makes data valuable.  If 50% of landing a job is 'who you know' what happens when everyone knows everyone?  When job referrals are plentiful?  Context is what is going to make it manageable.

   In corporate America, no recruiting tool has even been able to stand up to the employee referral.  The problem is that too many companies cannot manifest enough employee referrals so they have to rely on external staffing resources.  I for one, am personally happy about this, but none-the-less, the 'context' evolution of social media is about to spill over into this area as well.

   Context is organic targeting.  This means that the right kind of information organically finds the right audience for that information.  Software engineers will hear about opportunities from their open source communities like Forrst or GitHub.  Account Executives now get the latest product ranking for Gartner's Magic quadrant from their Linkedin news feed (that shows who they know at the organization).  Every professional group has pockets they huddle in...pockets that provide the context ...not content...they are seeking.

Here is one quick tip to increasing your Context right away:

Lower the barrier of entry:  Sometimes Context is not always about whether or not your candidates are reading your message but WHAT they are reading it on.  Majority of email is now consumed via a smart device... but most devices are currently not smart enough to store a resume.  So if you try to get a slam dunk on a cold email odds are they are going to either delete your email or simply forget to get back to you.


The Method Manifesto: State of the Union - Recruiter

   The role of a recruiter really varies from organization to organization.  If the recruiter works for a third party, they typically focus on numerous roles within a handful of verticals across numerous hiring managers.  Third Party Recruiters trade the admin component for the sales component.  Even when dealing with their best client, the posture for any internal staffing function is to beat the agency.  Agency (Third Party) recruiters are often sought after from hiring managers and loathed by internal staffing.  

   You also have corporate recruiters.  Often a corporate recruiters acts more as a facilitator then an actual headhunter.  Most organizations saddle a recruiter with so much volume they are lucky if they can spend a couple moments a day sourcing.  They have to rely on other resources for majority of their candidate flow.  This results unfortunately in a poor quality of candidate flow, which increases the odds of a hiring manager preferring the candidates from a third party (agency) because of the perception of a higher level of competency. 

   So what is the Method Recruiter?  The method recruiter does not handle administration tasks or coordinator support tasks.  No scheduling, no offers, no excessive meetings, no excessive applicant tracking systems or metrics reporting.  All of these tasks can be handled by HR support or by the hiring manager’s personal administrator.  The Method Recruiter’s sole purpose is to find the absolute best candidates for their hiring managers.  The Method Recruiter is a pure headhunter that doesn’t have to focus on finding his next search.  The Method Recruiter simultaneously focuses on making quick turn arounds for active searches but puts deep roots in the ground for future initiatives. 

  So if you are currently a recruiter how to do make your organization transition.  Truth is you may not be able to.  It may require a change in organization.  However, lets assume you are passionate about the company you work for (this is key for this to work), you need to create a clear 8 point plan to present to your staffing leadership and hiring managers or client groups.  

Here is what that plan should look like:

1) All administration tasks will be handled by a coordinator, HR Business Partner, and or hiring manager’s personal administrator.  As a recruiter, my greatest asset to the organization is creating significant increases in quality of our human capital.  This is where I should focus. 

2) Ownership of my clients.  It is important that I become my clients sole point of contact for all hiring initiatives.  Both external and internal.  This will help define business critical priorities and maintain a constant flow of qualified candidates. 

3) Speed of hire.  My goal is to locate a candidate that is ultimately hired within 14 business days of starting a search.  This means before a search starting the hiring manager is full engaged in the search and ready to make decision. 

4) Quality of hire.  All of my candidates will be from or alumni of our organizations direct competition except within searches where technical aptitude trumps industry affiliation.  No external “paid” advertising for any of my searches is no longer needed or requested.  My clients should receive a small amount of top candidates to select from.  No more then 4. 

5) Recruiting CRM.  With the money that we save from no more job postings, I would like to fund the adoption of a Recruiting CRM.  Unlike our Applicant Tracking System, a Recruiting CRM (like Avature or Jobvite) will allow me to create powerful realtime analytics across my searches.  Allow my clients to engage with candidates easily, to be able to track that data effortlessly, and allow for a better candidate experience. 

6) Seamless Social Recruiting.  I will build real authentic community with targeted candidates.  As these relationships mature and expand, our reach will also.  Creating results from our organic posts that will dramatically change the way we recruit moreover the way passive candidates view our opportunities. 

7) Easier Sourcing.  From requirement approval to final interview, the process should take place within 1 calendar month. 

8) Emerging Technology.  Our team should take advantage of free online tools such as Twitter, YouTube, etc to communicate authentic messages to our industry peers.  These are free tools that I can manage to create significant assets to my clients exposure. 

Method Manifesto is for Staffing Leadership

Staffing Leadership is extremely parallel to that of a Professional Sports franchise.  Just like in sports, the pool for head coaches especially is relatively small.  The best ones are near impossible or too expensive to get and the ones readily available have seen to many failures, layoff’s, and other depressing things that often occur in the “corporate” arena.


When selected, also like a head coach, the staffing leadership inherits a team.  Most of that team are the remnants of the previous staffing leader.  Why remnants?  There is little doubt that the previous staffing leaders landed somewhere...most likely recruited by that somewhere to begin with.  As he or she landed, just like a head coach, they begin pulling in the support cast or assistant coaches that they have worked with before.

The new Staffing leader must try to make this third string team play...or at least first string.  So they too start bringing in their supporting cast from outside organizations.  What this creates is a Gipsy like culture where the same dotted line talent acquisition team float from company to company.  

The problem with this is the Staffing Leader often has to set aside their true asset they bring to the organization and toil in mediocrity with tactical issues such as headcount issues, inadequate tools, underperforming legacy staff, etc , etc.  By the time they get the team where they want it ( a feat few achieve) it will be just long enough to let them go before the next RPO take over happens that will reset the entire organization within 18 months after the RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) fails. 

How is this fixed?  If the CXO leadership does not understand The Method it will not work.  Buy in has to happen from the highest level possible.  However, its very possible for a staffing leader with courage to be able to make these moves within their department and then take their show on the road as they become the rock star of their company. 

This can be achieved by reorganizing a simple structure within your talent attraction team.  By partnering one true sourcer/recruiter with one full time coordinator with a hiring manager or team.  This is not reinventing the wheel, however, the magic is in the details.  The sourcer will purely pipeline live talent based on the hiring manager’s “hot points.”  The coordinators will handle ALL admin related tasks.  In addition, if budget allows, a dedicated 1:1 social media branding professional dedicated to that specific hiring team.  No postings, no paid advertising of any kind.  Pure 1:1 ‘high touch’ recruiting.  

If you as a staffing leader can cut EVERYTHING else, your budget will be very lean and you will be able to capitalize on building assets for your organization with your budget not just paid invoices. 

After you implement the bullshit free staffing plan (more on that later) that is when Staffing Leadership can have an impact in areas of their expertise.  This could be partnering with C level to create the human capital plan for a new division, assisting M&A with ear to the ground data gathering, creating a state of the art technology process. 

Earlier in this chapter I talked about building assets.  When you spend 14 months building an authentic online audience of engineers that are “really” engaged with your brand...that is an asset.  When you create recruiting based technologies that allow the right types of candidates to find you organically WITHOUT advertising, that is an asset.  When you help develop hiring managers to be better leaders and become APART of the top performers list...that is an asset.