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We, not I, would like to help you with your recruiting challenge

For some time now, Frederique Campagne-Irwin of Her Corner has been challenging me to move TalentFront from a personality-driven business – selling oneself — to the next level of sustainability – selling a solution.  I understood the concept, but I didn’t really understand what that meant, at a gut level, until I passed up an opportunity because I could not hire someone fast enough.

Here’s my story . . .

One of my colleagues referred a great piece of business to me and I could not figure out a way to staff it.  Yes, me the recruiter. There are a lot of reasons I could give for this and most of them would be justified; however, I don’t find excuses empowering so instead I decided to explore how this happened.

Recently, I’ve had a difficult time adding another recruiter to the TalentFront team.  Finding someone with the right doses of client-facing savoir-faire, sourcing acumen, and a quality-focused screening approach was proving a challenge.  Yes, I had seen and talked with a lot of great people, but either my timing was off or they did not have all the pieces I needed in the right proportions.  This prompted me to ask, “What is not working here?”  I took this question to my Her Corner Groups Plus buddies, an uber-talented “posse” of women business owners, during our bimonthly mind meld.  Frederique Campagne-Irwin, our leader, masterfully transformed the question into an empowering discussion of the stages of business growth discussed in this article in the Harvard Business Review.

Standing in front of that room, I finally got the message.  I was in the survival stage – the one right before sustainability – where you are on the brink of jumping the great divide while clinging desperately to what has gotten you to that point – generally YOU! So far, I’d succeeded by throwing myself at client problems.  No wonder I couldn’t find someone to hire.  Because I was focused on selling myself, I’d also focused on hiring myself. I had not taken the time to map my DNA onto the organization.

With a blank piece of paper in front of me, I mapped out the functions I needed and started recruiting for those skills – people who can find talent, screen talent, and those who can project-manage a recruiting assignment.  Rather than search for all of these capabilities in one person, I’m now searching for skills and not titles.  I’ve realized:

  • Professionals with coaching, social work, and journalism backgrounds can make great screeners.
  • Analysts who scour databases and media for intelligence can make great sourcers
  • Candidate engagement is really a sales function and people with a consultative sales background would make excellent client account managers.

Working with clients, I always emphasize that hiring is not hard.  We make it hard when we refuse to accept what the market is telling us.  If you can’t find someone for your role, you need to think about what that means.  Is there an issue with your timing, your requirements, or your process?   In my case, my requirements were mushy, which led me to at least a month of unsuccessful searching for someone with an amorphous set of skills that looked something like mine.  Today, I’ve brought three people to the business from different backgrounds; only one is a traditional recruiter.

That’s why I’m challenging you to look at your hiring.  Where are you failing to hire?  Do you have the right requirements?  Are you putting enough effort into hiring?  Do you have a process in place?  What are candidates saying about your company or the job?

Recruiting isn’t hard, but it is a challenge on so many levels.  We, not I, would like to help you with that challenge.



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