X - it's a variable that leads to multiple scenarios. In math x is the number or goal we are trying to uncover to lead to the balance of the equation, in life x is often the hurdle or problem, solution or scenario that gives life it's most interesting choices, options and sometimes leads us to do more research to look at past variables, and similar scenarios to uncover what may need to be done. In old pirate films, and The Pirates of The Caribbean or in popular culture, x marks the spot - but I digress.
About 3.5 years ago, my manager at the time Maria DiLisio of Solutions Partners, Inc. wrote a wonderful blog post here on Recruitingblogs that seemed so valid in it's observations about changing circumstances, technologies, and skills of recruiters, and staffing professionals - read it here:
She wrote about the days where recruiting was done without all the bells and whistles we now enjoy - cell phones, pagers, tweets, facebook, LinkedIn, even Job Boards. In the 80s, who would have thought that today all these changes would be what they are now? In those days, marker in hand, newspaper, letter, and network were recruiting skills that led to job seeker and employer matches. The web has made everything go super automated, and now new skills, and a new breed of recruiter, and also job seeker, career professional, even HR professional has emerged.
Today, personality, people skills, email etiquette, social media netiquette, privacy concerns, online job postings, web 2.0, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Google+ and on and on, blogs, etc. So many new staffing x-factors emerge daily. Add to these economic, micro, and macro level economics, personality of hiring managers, sensitivity of corporations in the wake of the economic maelstrom, new levels of discrimination in hiring, old and new laws, onward and forward and everywhere you look, staffing is transforming, blazing new trails, and as this occurs so too do the amount of staffing x-factors.
Staffing X Factors in my mind can be defined as any of the above but let me go on to analyze them further and why they are affecting our staffing pipelines, futures, and professional direction and you will see that as this field grows and evolves so to must we:
SOCIAL MEDIA - you must master it, build a network that is enticing, build profiles that draw others in, and networking with multiple individuals pays dividends. Join LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, Alumni groups, and more, blog with purpose and with interesting contributions that lead to others professional success. If you build your social network this x-factor will come. Use Ning to build a niche professional site. The list goes on and on and on.
BOOLEAN - can never go away, knowledge of search techniques, and using Wikipedia to unearth keywords others may not find - this x-factor is choice.
PERSONALITY - why do some recruiters close more candidates than others? Why do some find folks and get referrels? Personality - at the end of the day do you have enough service minded approaches to build others and build trust with candidates from a variety of places? This goes for the job seeker as well, or the hiring manager. Matches in today's recruiting world as they were yesterday are all about helping others. When a service mindset that treats everyone at the table to a fair shake deals and fills happen. Hiring managers must be taught to value the people they hire and look at them with the same dignity they would want.
COMPANY CULTURE - X-Factor that is amazingly simple yet hard to achieve. Word of mouth on blogs about a company culture can be a huge differentiator in staffing success. A culture that has a whole career building approach, a groom from within standard, will have lower turnover, and hiring retention, and key hires will result. This is one thing that must be espoused from the top down, it can't be manufactured. X-factor like this one has built such brands as Southwest, JetBlue, Google, among others. That is something that is a strategic advantage. Such a culture is an ongoing mojo. It connects to personality and so many other factors branch out from this. A negative company culture can do amazing things to ruin competitive advantage, contribute to "brain drain" or loss of key personnel, not to mention disruption to operations.
THE JOB DESCRIPTION - in short some companies write them well, others do not, it could be anything from writing a statement such as - "Must be recently employed." "Only such and such should apply". etc. It must be clear with the skills and abilities that would get the core of the job done, yet balanced so as not to put unneccessary qualifications that at best, don't really add value to the core functions. Job Descriptions can prove fairness in hiring on the legal side, build morale, and set a compensation strategy and lends itself to clear communication about what the job entails, and opens doors for key discussion. The Job Description is a vital document, it should be written with care, seeking Manager, incumbent, and customer feedback. Powerful are the job descriptions that written in such a way make applicants WANT to work in that capacity to which they are qualified.
CANDIDATE RELATIONS - can't stress enough this X-Factor. How you treat your candidates from opening exchange, through offer negotiation speaks volumes about the character of the company. People are not widgets. Treated as such, well - turnover at these companies is more likely, and when the company CEO wonders why numbers aren't where they should be chances are is a bad candidate relations campaign.
KEY STAFFING CONSTITUENTS AND NETWORKING - engaging key staffing constituencies is key. This could be professional associations, key job fairs, key industry publications, and a strategic partnership with Staffing Agencies. On the Staffing Agency side, same thing applies but strategic partnerships with staffing corporate partners.
BEING A GOOD LISTENER - still applies. Still is key, recruiters who master it, close more deals, hiring managers who have it, have more quality fills.
GOOD INTERVIEW techniques - Uncover and filter out the best. They treat candidates fairly with using questions that are not discriminatory but rather open doors to a dialogue that results in both sides being either disappointed, or happy. Job seekers, and Hiring Managers alike need to master their roles. Key questions based on important facts and historical successful candidate profiles can be used to assimilate and dissimenate good questions. The interview process can begin with a phone screen, but evaluation criteria must be uniform. Not an easy task.
INTERNAL SUCCESSION PLANNING & GROOMING OF INTERNAL TALENT POOL - your most vital employee assets already exist in your organization, you pay most of your overall expenses in the form of wages, benefits, and employee related payroll taxes. Your internal pipeline of talent and your training of workers is vital to the economic engine of the whole. How you treat existing employees, is an X-Factor of Staffing that makes for an interesting outcome.
ECONOMIC - No amount of preparation can prepare for shifts in the economy, but managing talent from day 1 by seeing the economic landscape and planning for shifts of revenue related to economic issues at both macro and micro-economic outcomes is key. The unemployment rate, tax rates, government regulation will all affect hiring to some degree or another. This also includes how organizations maneuver and hire, whether contingent or permanent.
EDUCATION - It will continue to play a role as knowledge positions require more training. The more training one has the better off they are. This staffing X-Factor is key.
CONTIGENT/TEMPORARY VS. PERM ROLES - Companies will continue to supplement their workforces with contingent labor using it more in harder economic times, and increasing PERM ROLES in others. From the dot com bust we learned that hiring too quickly can be painful but encouraging companies to take a look through a temporary staffing scenario and supplementing strategically, that is key. X-Factors such as rate of hire or perm roles, will affect other industries and staffing scenarios.
TECHNOLOGY - Will continue to advance and change everything about hiring as we know it. As the web continues to evolve so will staffing.
These are but a few staffing x-factors. But the one thing that remains constant is in a human business, there will always be changing Staffing X-Factors. The challenge is managing both one's career and business needs with the ongoing staffing realm and X-Factor components.