The Importance of Relational Hiring

“If you advertise the position, they will come.”

The problem is—they do! With an average of 89 applicants per posted position (Talent Acquisition Factbook 2011) and half of those unqualified, the task of finding viable and valuable job candidates is, at the least, highly time consuming. This is further complicated by the diversity of positions that need to be filled.

Hiring – technology versus relationship

Our last blog “Recruiting Tools for Hiring” looked at the various technologies that allow us to source, track, and manage potential job candidates for employment. But having the right tools doesn’t guarantee finding and hiring the right employee. One of the problems is that the recruitment process has become very mechanical. The daily routine of receive requisition; advertise; receive resume; email; phone screen; physical interview; and then make an offer leaves recruiters on a never-ending wheel and leaves candidates wondering, “Am I just a number in the recruiting process?”

With the culture of America changing, job seekers are no longer looking for “just another job.” They want to enjoy the life they have outside the work environment. And rightfully so. They spend half of their day, or more, at work and traveling to and from their job. Prospective job applicants are taking a deeper look at companies and their environments. It is those companies that create positive recruiting and work culture experiences that get the best candidates.


An experience in best hiring practices — a match to the company, not just to the requisition

Zappos is a perfect example of positive recruitment. Their recruiting process is not about filling a position with a warm qualified body. From mail personnel to top-level executives, they take an excruciatingly in-depth look at each job applicant. They research the applicant experientially and socially. Then they interview. Then they interview some more and not in the conventional way. In the book “Delivering Happiness” by Zappos CEO Tony Hseih, a potential interviewee was not hired because of that person’s negative interaction with the company bus driver who took the candidate from the hotel to the company and back. This hiring practice is based on the creation of their successful Zappos experience – finding highly experienced employees who are also excellent fits for the company culture. (Learn more about the Zappos Experience.)

Zappos is not the only company changing how they recruit. The Talent Board, a non-profit organization, identifies and recognizes companies who have excelled in engaging talent acquisition through developing strong strategies in their recruitment cycles. (The CandEs)

Much like the marketing industry has gone full circle in realizing the necessity of researching consumer behavior and creating a positive, memorable consumer experience, the same is true about recruiting job applicants and their candidate experience.

Employee recruitment begins with developing strong talent strategies and identifiers. A key to a successful strategy is relationship management. Improving hiring techniques and employee culture creates a better candidate experience.

The difference is technical, then tactical, recruitment

Technical recruitment is the set of tools used to search and identify viable job candidates such as job boards, career sites, looking at passive applicants, networking, and mobile applicants. It may also include part of the pre-screening process, but then this is where the change needs to take place.

Implementing relationship practices as part of the recruiting cycle is a way to identify highly qualified and top-level job candidates for your organization, and a valuable employee increases your bottom line. It is tactical relational recruitment applied to talent acquisition that determines the best fit in culture and experience.

INTERACT: This begins once you have identified a viable candidate. It may begin with the typical phone call and email, but implementing relationship building in the recruiting processes is what separates an average recruiter from a great recruiter. It is imperative to dig deeper into the character, hobbies, and personality of a potential recruit during the early stage of candidate screening. Listening and interacting with job candidates allows a recruiter to customize the experience and determine if a candidate would excel in a particular organization. This in turn leads to the ability to help hiring managers make informed decisions about job candidates.

ENGAGE: This becomes convoluted at times when the prospective applicant is passed from the sourcing agency to in-house, but a well-developed partnership will maximize their joint efforts to develop a positive candidate experience. Next steps in relationship development may include a video interview with the agency. It may also be a conference call with several of the team members and the prospective employee. Engagement allows the agency, the company, and the employee to have a hands-on experience of what the future working relationship will be.

CONNECT: Network, network, network. Time and distance may not always afford the opportunity to meet with a potential candidate face-to-face, but with today’s technology distance is often irrelevant. Connection is based on what you know about a person and knowledge is a valuable asset. Creating a positive candidate experience means using the information you have acquired through data mining, social networking, and personal details from conversations. Stay in contact between interviews. Call the applicant to see if there is any other information about the company is needed. One of the first things asked of a potential recruit is a personal identification factor, which usually includes the birth date – send a birthday card. The objective is to recognize the time the job applicant puts in as well. Create a positive connection experience.

Applying the principles

All of this information is valuable, but unless you put it into practice your recruiting process stays the same, yielding the same results. Having a partnership with a staffing or recruiting agency exponentially helps companies implement the relationship components in recruiting. When partnering with niche or boutique agencies, you will see a focus on identifying your need, but they will also be building databases based on networking and relationships. They will focus on the qualities of a job applicant, not the quantity of the applicants they can procure. Don’t get caught spending your time with an applicant who has only been phoned, emailed, and then passed on to your desk – find an employment agency who has you and your candidates’ best interests in mind.

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By Donna Cornelius Contributing Editor