Sourcing: The Hunger Games Edition
Presented by: Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark
Virtual Conference for HR.com (5/3/12)
Our topic today is “Sourcing: The Hunger Games Edition.” Katniss and Peeta will not be joining us personally today, but we can learn some very important things from the book/movie as it relates to our sourcing and recruiting efforts. A phrase that it used often in the movie is - “May the odds be ever in your favor.” That’s what I hope to accomplish today, placing the odds of sourcing and attracting the very best talent to your organizations in your favor.
The Hunger Games – Are you sick of hearing about it yet? I guess if you’re on this webcast, you still have a little bit of an appetite for it. In this movie, children from each region (Tributes) are forced to fight to the death until there is one person remaining. This is set as a reality TV show with a studio audience, and then also shown on screens in the various regions. If a Tribute is well liked, or makes an impression, then people from the audience (Sponsors) can send them something that will help them during their battles (food, medicine, etc.).
So, let’s get started and dig in to what I believe is a fascinating topic. Sourcing/recruiting is transitioning into a new approach – a new way of doing things. It’s already happening. Those who refuse to make these changes, can stand pat and say, “Well, if they want to work here then they’ll do things MY way, the way I want to do it.” That’s your right. You can do that. But understand that others will be changing their approach to attract the very best talent on their terms, leaving the rest to come to you.
Finding a great candidate that is not only qualified, but someone that we like, or that make a great impression, is what recruiters live for! Believe me, I have spoken with some on the opposite end of that spectrum who were rude, arrogant, disinterested, and abrasive – and I LOVED getting the opportunity to work with candidates who were polite, engaging, self-confident, and personable much, much more.
When I speak of “sourcing,” you probably have some pre-conceived ideas about what I’m going to discuss. You likely thought of:
I mean, that’s what we, as recruiters, have been doing for many years now. Why would we not think of those things?
But in our session today, I want to discuss the next variation of sourcing. I am convinced that the way we have approached recruiting is about to undergo a radical transformation over the next 3-5 years. In my opinion, the days of:
I believe those days will soon end. Or at least they will end for the companies who are forward-thinking and successfully winning the war for the very best talent.
We are undergoing a generational shift in our workforce. The Baby Boomers are retiring. Generation X is moving into management and executive level roles. And behind them, we now have Gen Y, Net Geners, or Millennials coming into the workforce. Over the course of the next 5 years, 60% of the workers in the US Federal Government will reach retirement age. Those kinds of numbers will be true in other industries as well. What worked in reaching Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers won’t work with Gen Y. What makes them so different? Well, they are the first generation to grow up online. They are very tech savvy, collaborative, and they care deeply about issues like work/life balance, career progression, and making the world around them a better place. They see things differently. They expect more. They look way beyond just the surface.
I’d like to point you in the direction of a resource that you might find interesting, and the basis for my interest in topics like we’ll discuss today. It’s a book called, “Grown Up Digital” by Don Tapscott. In it, he looks at this first generation that has grown entirely in a digital world with the internet accessible to them throughout their entire lives. He identifies 8 norms for the Gen Y generation. They are:
Google does an excellent job of reaching out to that generation. The messaging on their website hits all of the things that this generation values most. When they want to recruit in a certain part of the world, they have someone go there and speak about technology, or something that would be of interest, and then use that as a way to reach out to those who are interested. They hold open houses so potential candidates can envision themselves working there. They have blogs, Twitter feeds, and You Tube channels. It’s both high-tech and high-touch. In return, 25% of all young professionals say that if they could work at any company anywhere in the world, they choose Google. That’s more than twice the amount who say they would want to work at Facebook or Apple.
So, the goal today is to place the odds ever in your favor, or at least until another generation comes along that demands something else.
Advantages came to the contestants in The Hunger Games who were the most memorable out of the 24 who were competing. They had huge advantages. In this war for the very best talent, what sets you apart? What do you have to offer that another company may not? What will make you “memorable?”
Let’s face it, if you are trying to recruit the same people that Google, Facebook, or Apple wants – it’s a tough hill to climb. They are all brands that Gen Y can identify with easily – they are known. When you read the “About Google” portion of their website, it is 100% geared towards Gen Y. They’ve done an excellent job at marketing themselves and setting up a culture that is very appealing. They also have the resources to be able to offer an incredible array of perks to their employees – something that not every organization can realistically do. So, how can you make yourself memorable when you are going against a well-known, well-funded brand?
Here are a few suggestions for things that could appeal to Gen Y and make you “memorable” when compared to others trying to recruit them:
Please note that not everything on this list costs money. These “perks” can help make you memorable though when compared to 3-4 other companies who may be pursuing the same candidates as you. All of these types of things need to be established before the sourcing or recruiting of candidates ever begins.
Alliances Get You Further
As with any good movie, you have the good guys and the bad guys. The Hunger Games was no different. Once the battles began, the bad guys formed an alliance and together, they would hunt down and kill those who tried to go it alone. The good guys, a much smaller group, also protected each other and helped each other to go further in the game. And we all know that the eventual winner will always come from the good guy alliance.
The process and strategy of recruiting is changing. It will be a balance of both technology, as well as human touch. The most successful at striking the right balance between the two will make the candidate feel as though they are in an alliance with you. The human element and relationships/trust built between the recruiter and the candidate will be the emphasis in this model. So, let’s take a look at how this looks.
There has been a trend in the past few years to try to automate as much of the recruiting process as possible and actually speak with as few people as necessary. This methodology will not work with Gen Y. Technology will still play a major role though. Corporate websites need to be well written and targeted towards Gen Y. Job Descriptions need to be more than just bullet points listing responsibilities – they need to include who the company is, what they stand for, why this job matters, and why someone would want to join you. Application processes need to be quick and easy. Automated responses need to be generated at key steps in the application process to let them know they have successfully applied, resume is being reviewed, didn’t reach the minimum requirements for that role but another might be a good fit, etc. Text messaging capabilities from your applicant tracking system should be included. Online scheduling tools should also be available so a recruiter can enter days/times when they are available and a candidate can schedule a time to speak (allowing the candidate the freedom to respond and schedule something at night or on the weekend instead of trying to reach the recruiter during normal business hours and playing phone tag for 3 days). You Tube channels, Twitter feeds, social networking, and landing pages specifically for recruiting – these are necessary forms of marketing. Technology should be seen as a tool to offer accessibility and speed to various aspects of the recruiting process, but not as something to automate the recruiting process. The human element is vital in recruiting Gen Y.
As mentioned earlier, when Google wants to recruit in a certain area of the world, they send someone to go speak on an interesting topic at a university campus, networking group, or an association. This is done primarily as a recruiting activity.
I believe the days of posting a job on Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, or Craigslist, and that being the primary way to reach the most candidates, are coming to a close. The role of Recruiter is morphing into more of a Guidance Counselor. It’s less about a sales job by the Recruiter, and more about the corporate opportunities, integrity of the leadership, and the ability for the Gen Y person to fit that job into their desired lifestyle. Those companies who can position themselves in an alliance with the best candidates – they win.
Your Mentor Changes Everything
In the movie, each Tribute had a Mentor assigned to them. The Tributes had no experience from which to draw from, but the Mentor – they had not only been there before, but by the fact that they were still living and breathing – meant they won The Hunger Games in their season! Who better to advise the newbies than a seasoned veteran?
Please understand that as I researched for this presentation, and I started seeing the various aspects of what it’s going to take for companies to be successful in hiring the best talent available, I started accounting for time, resources, and money. While some organizations may have the technologies in place to accommodate the automation needed to keep things moving smoothly and efficiently, others will either have to invest in it or outsource it to a recruiting organization that does. Some have internal recruiting teams that can have methodologies, strategies, and job descriptions changed to take advantage of the things we have discussed here today, but others will either have to add more resources to accomplish the recruiting tasks or outsource it to a recruiting organization that can take on your identity and function as your internal team.
For most organizations, this is going to take a shift in the allocations of people and money. You may save money from not having to do as many traditional job postings online or in newspapers or on radio or even billboards – but you may have to increase the dollars spent on travel so you can have recruiters go to various parts of the country to speak about your company, or to add text messaging abilities to your communications plan. You may not need as much office space if most of your team is on the road or works “off hours” attending networking events in the evening, but you’ll likely spend more to get real-time online scheduling capabilities or adding a marketing communications leader to your recruiting team to handle all messaging.
Three Options for Morphing Your Sourcing/Recruiting Efforts
Outsourcing these efforts to a RPO firm might be the best option for your organization, although not in all cases. These engagements would address all of your technology concerns as many firms already have tools in place that handle automation issues, text messaging, real-time online scheduling, etc. Your SLAs can specifically address college recruiting initiatives, social media recruiting, networking events, even having a MarCom person who works on all of your messaging. The recruiters engaged can take on your brand – having business cards with your info and their contact info, having a 800 phone number for people to contact that is dedicated to your company (even the Caller ID would read your company name), they can wear your shirts when at career fairs – the candidate will have no idea they are working with someone outside of the company. This could be paid for with a monthly retainer so you can budget accordingly, or engage seasonally as needed. To offset this, less office space is needed – fewer computers, phones, salaries, benefits, insurance, etc.
But this type of engagement isn’t for everyone. If you only plan to do a handful of hires per year – it might not be worth it. Instead of having things that are automated, you may have a light enough load that your in-house recruiters can personally send emails confirming someone has applied successfully. Your recruiters would then likely be more available for candidates to connect with them and schedule interviews.
I would suggest that you consider bringing in a consultant (Mentor) to help you map out where you are today, where you feel you need to be tomorrow, and how best to get there. This needs to be someone who is familiar with Gen Y and the unique aspects of reaching them, but also someone who has successfully set up new processes and strategies that have successfully impacted other organizations.
Big Dramatic Ending
Near the end of The Hunger Games, it became evident that one of the two remaining good guys would have to turn on the other – there could only be one person who survives and wins. But then, oh so unexpectedly, the rules were changed! Because the two main characters had fallen in love, they changed the rules so that they both could live happily ever after.
You may be wondering how in the world I’m going to spin this back to Recruiting….do not fret…I can!
The rules to successfully recruiting the people that your organization needs to be successful, and thrive in the future, have changed. Keep in mind that your people ARE your business. If you place people into various roles that are average at their jobs, you’ll likely get average results. If you place people who simply want to draw a paycheck and don’t really care about the company’s reputation or results – then that causes problems for your entire organization. We are looking at talent shortages coming up in the next few years. The candidates will have many options before them on where to invest their careers. There will be a battle – a Hunger Games of sorts. If it’s true that the company who hires average people will get average results, and the company who hires underperformers will likely underperform – then the one who hires the very best talent will likely thrive. Places like Google are already in full Gen Y mode – every element of their recruiting strategies targets Gen Y.
You don’t have to be the biggest company. You don’t have to have to most resources. You DO, however, need a plan that makes sense and appeals to your key target. That plan should be a priority, and begin executing on it as soon as possible. When your company has the right strategies, and the right people are implementing them, you’ll be hiring the best talent available – and the odds will be forever in your favor.