What differentiates your recruiting model?

I attended an HR Conference in Fort Worth, Texas at the tail end of 2009 and had the opportunity to meet with dozens of exhibitors and attendees who work in the HR space. Par for the course; the event coordinators placed all of the staffing and recruiting exhibitors in the same row, which enabled me to listen to the presentations/elevator pitches of a number of my competitors over a two day visit to Texas. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed a booth and overheard the company representative say, “We aren’t the traditional recruiting company”, “we take a different approach” and I wanted to scream… OK…WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? See, I had heard this IDENTICAL elevator pitch from the 4th company in 2 hours and it taught me something important; I had to quickly determine if my recruiting delivery was able to stand up to the question of –why is your firm different? My row-mates from this conference kept alluding to “being different”, but I didn’t hear anything that supported that claim.

Most recruiting professionals have a proprietary process and/or technology that enables the “smooth delivery” that our client and candidate prospects are thirsting for. If we’re being honest though…most recruiting organizations have a pretty universal recruiting process that flows a little like this:

· client hiring manager/HR manager calls a recruiter who he/she knows personally

· recruiter finds a candidate (through networking, internet, cold calling or referrals)

· recruiter screens a pool of candidates (5 minute introductory conversation with 50-75 people found from their recruiting activity)

· recruiting team interviews a short list of candidates (behavioral based discussion, 20 minutes in length, with the 5 strongest people from that list of 50-75)

· recruiter introduces a candidate portfolio to a client hiring manager (top 3 professionals from that short list of 5 are sent to the hiring manager or HR leader through email)

· coordination of interviews (recruiter arranges interviews at the request of the hiring manager or HR leader and statistically speaking, 2 of the 3 candidates get interviews with the client company)

· offer a job (1 of the 2 candidates interviewed will received a job offer from the client company)

For the sake of this article; I looked at the high level process flow (above) and started wondering if my company does anything “different” in this space. My conclusion; yes, my company does something different and it’s not simply the process or technology that we utilize; it’s the “how” we deliver that will set us apart. I’m no longer talking about simply finding the next great candidate; I’m talking about “how” you communicate to your client if you don’t find a great candidate. I’m not referring to representing the best talent, I’m talking about “how” you treat a candidate who might be represented by another firm and when they seek your help; how will you respond (do you continue talks with them and offer guidance or do you let the candidate deal with their problems on their own because you might not be representing them)? In summary, as an organization that specializes in assisting organizations with the acquisition of their talent; we need to differentiate ourselves and here are some philosophical beliefs that help illustrate why our team creates a different experience for the people we interact with:

· Partnerships- We desire/demand that our candidates and clients become partners with us. For those who know me, I work in a “hug it out” kind of environment, so a candidate or client who isn’t truly open to partnerships or connections might not want the “experience” we try to create.

· Acts of Kindness- being kind is a philosophy, so if you need someone to vent to, done! If you need some consulting advice to better your decision, done! Our team looks for ways to help others before we help ourselves and it makes our business that much more rewarding.

· Control- I can’t control other human beings, so I have coached our team to control what we can, our actions. Our team will own up to the commitments they make whether that means returning phone calls from candidates or if it means delivering a customized proposal at a certain day and time, we control our actions.

· End Game- Some people’s end game is the “placement” of a candidate or the new contract signed by a client. The recruiting industry has thousands of people trying to differentiate in order to make money; we are trying to differentiate by doing right by people.

Travis Furlow is the Managing Director for Resource Recruiting and Learning Solutions. He can be reached through is weekly blog, www.fearlessleadership.wordpress.com or through the company’s website, www.smartworkforce.com .

Views: 322

Comment by Paul Alfred on March 8, 2010 at 4:54pm
I hate to break your bubble Travis - but some companies do have unique recruiting models.
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 8, 2010 at 5:07pm
Paul, no bubble bursting. I agree with you and I have worked for organizations with very creative recruiting and sourcing strategies too. My point to this post was how organizations can get lost in saying the "same things" over and over and maybe we should look into our processes and try to find ways to deliver and execute that might set us apart from the rest of the industry. Thanks for reading!!
Comment by Peter Ceccarelli on March 8, 2010 at 6:26pm
Great post. What I take from this is that you invest heavily in the "people" part of the process and funny thing, a lot of recruiters and agencies think that they do, but don't. When I use agencies and 3rd party recruiters (which I do on a semi-regular basis), what keeps me going back to the same ones aren't necessarily because their candidates are "better", but because they do the relationship part so well. Most don't in my opinion, and for me that's important. Very important. And they let me vent when I need to and listen. That means a lot.
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 9, 2010 at 9:12am
Thanks Peter! Yes. Our team has invested a tremendous amount of time developing people and recruiting people who care about the "human" side of this business. It's great to hear that you value the same and I appreciate you taking the time to read this article! Trav
Comment by Jerry Albright on March 9, 2010 at 10:32am
Great topic Travis. It's the topic in particular that consumed my time for well over a year - nearly two.

I came to the point in my career that I was asking myself this very same question. What does my service provide that others don't? I was running into too many places where I knew they were using agencies - yet I didn't get a chance to join in. My presentation had become somewhat stale - almost a "can I play too?" sort of call. Pretty lame. I knew it.

I don't claim to find the absolute best #1 candidate in the field for each position. I've never felt I was the fastest recruiter either. None of the typical spiels I heard from other recruiters were anything close to something I felt comfortable in actually saying. So I had to go a different direction all together.

It dawned on me that while the sourcing/recruiting side of our business has made huge advances - daily it seems - our clients have seen practically none of it. They are still getting candidates introduced with a lame Word document and a few lines in the email - "this guy is super!" "she can start Monday!" bla bla bla.........clients get that from everybody.

I looked into different ideas for how to present candidates in a more "personal" fashion. The only options were video resumes. While video is cool - it just doesn't fit the flow of my desk. I readily admit to placing professionals who, for obvious reasons, are not signed up with any modeling agencies. So I had to come up with something new.

What do I now offer my clients that is unique? A play button on top of the resume. The client gets to experience the very same conversation I just had with the candidate. Short and to the point. Here's an example: Resume with audio

I still find it very interesting - how much effort is spent to come up with a unique "recruiting" model - yet practically zero effort is placed on a company's "presentation" model.

Sorry for the sales pitch but the question was asked!
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 9, 2010 at 10:56am
No need to apologize. This is what I want to hear from people. Look, my opinion, there are thousands of professionals doing what we do each day and the longer you do it, the easier it can become to "get stale". I heard those companies at the HR conference and it helped spark that I was stale too, so I love the direction you are taking with the Resume/Audio presentation. For me, taking care of the people, acting as a coach/counselor and trying to make the experience a solid one (whether you get a job or not) is my personal mission. Thanks for reading and let's try and connect at some point!
Comment by Paul Alfred on March 9, 2010 at 11:02am
We have a great recruitment model that our Clients have really bought into. It really does make them listen when they ask me why would we work with your company. I start off by telling them that our Company was founded on the premise that we strongly believe: "The Best Candidates are Not on the Market" but are happy working at your competitors and must be specifically targeted. Our target markets are somewhat niche across industry sectors so we can apply this model.

We then go on to tell our clients that we don`t advertise jobs on our website so candidates cannot apply for jobs - that means calls coming into our company is usually from a Client with a specific requirement or from a candidate we have specifically targeted who is quite happy where he/she is, but will be willing to discuss new opportunities.

This approach to market has successfully worked for us but it really suits high-end difficult requirements where our clients' existing vendors and their internal HR Recruitment teams have failed to deliver. Also assuming you have 10 clients you might only have 3 Job Requirements at anyone time per client.
Comment by Clint Smith on March 9, 2010 at 12:35pm
Nice story, Travis. I agree that much of the industry "differentiation" does not go beyond marketing-speak. Some traditional recruiting firms have developed RPO-style pricing that, in theory, should form a tighter agency-employer relationship and reduce overall fees. This, of course, is dependent upon these firms delivering what they promise.

Since you sound interested in new business models, I thought that I would share mine. CareerPlug works with companies who have a recurring (high volume) hiring need for sales and customer service professionals. For a flat fee comparable to a job posting fee, we hand pick candidates from various resume databases and conduct email and phone recruitment campaigns to them to gauge their interest in specific career opportunities. Company recruiters/hiring managers receive a steady stream of candidates who are both qualified and interested. This model fills the need of companies who are not getting the candidates that they need from job postings but would rather not pay a traditional agency success fee.

Thanks for starting the conversation!
Clint Smith
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 9, 2010 at 1:47pm
I like the business model and had some exposure to a similar model while I consulted (RPO Project) at Honeywell. Feel free to reach out via LinkedIn as well through RecruitingBlogs and I might be able to introduce your model to a couple people. Your business answers that need for high volume, similar skill set roles that typically don't/can't get approved internally for the agencies to fill. Talk soon. Trav
Comment by Preet Mroke on March 9, 2010 at 2:00pm
Wonderful topic and conversation going on here!

I too have looked into the face of the Beast and asked, "Beast, how can we beautify you?" The Beast replied, "Only those who fully grasp my true nature will come to find my change." And so it is with recruiting.

So, I have some questions for you, the brilliant audience of this conversation:
What is the true nature of recruiting?
Does individual staffing organizational differentiation bring about monetary success? In other words, does being different from your competition truly mean you are better? Better for who and how?

Many of the people who have replied to this post have some interesting things to contribute in relation to how the business of recruiting is done, how it could change, how they are different. But for some reason, I can't shake the feeling that I've seen it all before. From my perspective, perhaps the most intriguing and useful suggestion from Jerry Albright is the implementation of Video/ Audio technology that may be relayed to a client for their better understanding of a candidate. I've already seen some firms use this to their advantage and the response from their clients is very positive.

I also agree with Jerry on the fact that while incredible changes have occurred on the candidate side of doing business, very little has changed on the client side...the side that pays our bills. The idea that presentation is the key factor on the client side of the equation resonates strongly with me.

The challenge remains as does the promise; Will only model and process innovation bring about a "better" way of doing things?


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