It was Halloween in 1992 and a Salt Lake City company decided to create one of those new Recruiting Departments. While the President did not know exactly what responsibilities were going to be required, he did have someone in mind to lead his new department. The executive administrative assistant for Sales had just lost her boss to a promotion 900 miles away. She was a talented executive administrative assistant who was super when it came to keeping information confidential and organizing her manager. She was great with people who wanted to visit with the Vice President of Marketing.
The nation was in the midst of one of our every decade recessions and there were few positions open. The President reasoned that since there were few open positions his new Director of Recruiting would do just fine. Neither the President nor the new director felt training was needed because what was there to learn about recruiting?
She hired a couple of other people who had never recruited before to be her recruiting staff and sent them forth to recruit throughout the Salt Lake City valley. When there were few positions and many people looking, it was easy to be a recruiter. When the economy took a surprising turn for the better and the orders began to flow in, the President was excited to announce with the increase of orders his company would begin to aggressively grow their staff. The hiring managers were very excited to begin hiring new employees after a several year drought.
Unfortunately, none of the recruiting staff nor the Director of Recruiting received any recruitment training during the slow times and suddenly they were charged with filling over 400 openings. Over the next few months they were overwhelmed with resumes and manager requests. Since they hired people in the past with no recruiting background and saw some success, the director continued that practice.
Someone suggested to the Director of Recruiting that they needed under state law to keep resumes for a year. Their file cabinets soon filled and it was going to be impossible to resurrect any resume. Then they bought the most expensive applicant tracking system they could find (if it is expensive it must be good, right?).
While they were implementing the system and training their recruiters to use it, the recruiting was getting further and further behind. Their talent acquisition process was to throw resumes on hiring managers’ desks and hope they were the right candidates. Then someone suggested to the Director of Recruiting that she should create a “Recruiting Process.” Going back to her past experience, she created a process with many steps that would ensure all of the work would get done. She hired a person to complete reference checks because her recruiters and managers were “too busy” – and this person soon became overwhelmed and took 2 weeks to check 3 references on each candidate. This practice cost the company many qualified candidates because other interested companies had better talent acquisition practices.
At this point someone suggested bringing in professional recruiters to help work through this mess. They hired 6 contract recruiters and these contract recruiters began to help fill the positions. Unfortunately the current talent acquisition staff was afraid the contract recruiters were making them look bad because the contract recruiters were very focused on each manager and each position. Fortunately positions were being filled and the hiring managers were becoming more pleased with the talent acquisition efforts of Human Resources.
Once the hiring managers began to compliment the contract recruiters, the staff went to the Director of Recruiting and asked her to tell the contract recruiters to stay away from the hiring managers and no longer contact them. The team of contract recruiters was directed to travel the US and attend technical Career Fairs. Their charge was to collect all of the resumes they could and send them back to headquarters. When asked prior to a career fair whether the contract recruiter would be able to see the list of 400+ openings (this was prior to Internet postings), the director said the list was “confidential”. So contract recruiters were recruiting talent for positions without knowing what they were recruiting.
This demonstrated the strengths of confidentiality for the Director of Recruiting. Unfortunately those strengths that worked so well as an executive administrative assistant worked against her as a Director of Recruiting.
What is scary about this story? It is true (did not happen in Salt Lake Valley to my knowledge) – and happened more than once to more than one contract recruiter. How should companies avoid these situations? The most important practice is to apply the same rules for hiring corporate recruiters and talent acquisition managers (and contract recruiters) as are used for all other positions. In other words, talent acquisition needs to be a priority in the company. Treat it as such. Hire recruiters who understand the sales process, are well organized, and have successful experience recruiting.