Scaling up sanely in a world of hiring madness
"We are in a time that demands questioning, a cold and deep inspection of the “lay of the land” and a constant improvement of the skills of our recruitment teams and other HR personnel," writes Gal Shor of Lightrun
Today, the most difficult bottleneck in each executive’s landscape is the difficulty in recruiting quality candidates (or, in extreme cases, any candidates at all). This has become, by far, the most significant challenge executive teams face these days. It’s so significant, in fact, that many companies are redirecting large, previously unheard of portions of the company’s resources into this effort.
Some companies use employer-branding focused PR agencies to strengthen their brand. Others decide to outsource the most difficult departments to hire for - usually R&D - to offshore locations. Almost every company employs a full-time recruiting agency to fill out one or more job openings. Everyone is looking for the ideal solution to extend their candidate pool, and improve the way these candidates perceive the company they’re applying for.
We are at an amazing period in history - companies that raised hundreds of millions of dollars are in a dire need to grow fast and hire a large number of quality candidates; however, when considering the fact that the Israeli job market has a relatively small - and somewhat fixed - number of talented candidates, this causes an obvious collision of opposing forces.
Due to the inherent complexity of creating a top-notch internal recruiting department, most companies today look at every possible opportunity for recruiting. Who would’ve figured that hiring a technical recruiter with the desired skill set will be harder than recruiting a software engineer with 7 years of experience?
When one reads the Linkedin (or ״Tzarot Ba-High-Tech״) posts about the recruiting world, it’s still possible to see the remnants from the old HR world: complaints about outdated recruiting methods, personal appeals to candidates that are completely unprofessional, and unrealistic demands for weeks-long home assignments. The candidates that are actively complaining about problematic recruiting processes reveal the largest challenge of all - recruiting the recruiters themselves.
And this is, I think, the root of the problem - for years, recruiting was considered a rather “bleak” profession, one that did not require an extensive set of skills. The main attribute of good recruiters used to be a good work ethic, and only the very best of the best understood - way back then - that to truly succeed in the recruiting industry, both in the current role and in the next ones, you need a large personal network and great candidate databases.
As recruiting becomes more and more a game for the entire organization, companies find themselves doing recruiting work across the board: the C-suite, VPs and any employee, seniors and juniors alike, are becoming more and more minded towards growth.
Recruiting, a once back-office, administrative job that seemingly “just happened” and was compensated accordingly, is now front and center. The significant capital that flowed (and is flowing) to the Israeli tech scene requires a change - an upgrade, actually - to recruiting processes and to the personas we hire to do this delicate and important work.
What are the new requirements for recruiters, following the major shifts that happened in the Israeli tech industry in the past 24 months?
- Be a good salesperson, with the ability to “close the deal” in short phone calls and written correspondences.
- Have great employer branding skills, ones that enable you to create a great appearance for your company brand in social media.
- Have the ability to connect with candidates on a personal level and create meaningful relationships.
- Be a multi-tasker - manage 20+ open positions, each one with numerous candidates in each stage.
- Be highly-motivated - an employee-first market requires greater efforts than in the past.
- Have an analytical mind and a passion for data analysis - studying the numbers and consistently improving the recruitment processes is key.
- Have an eye for people, and the ability to identify problem areas and strengths beyond what meets the eye.
This list is long, and I’m sure that many of you agree with all the bullet points, but the list of recruiters that meet these criteria is, to say the least, short. See the problem?
It’s important to stop here and mention that while the sourcing part of the process is critical, the full hiring process and the “conversion rates” throughout it matter greatly too. How can we as a company leave the most remarkable impression when a candidate goes through the process? How can we create the most meaningful experience for them? How can we make the product we’re creating as accessible and understandable as possible to all potential hires? Our hiring process should really put the candidate in the center, rather than focus on us - if something doesn’t make sense to a candidate or resonates badly, it should be thoroughly explored, fixed or removed.
The price of recruiting mistakes has gone up, and will go up even further
The price of making a mistake is higher than ever - not only is the market-standard recruiting commission rate going up significantly, onboarding a new employee is an expensive process that impacts the organization, the department and the team the employee is joining. An employee mismatch will cost a lot of resources until it is resolved. With startups required to grow faster and faster and exceed a higher bar of expectations, hiring managers are forced to make decisions faster and are sometimes willing to compromise on mediocre candidates in order to “move the needle” on their team-building goals.
Wasted training time, manager time and the potential exposure of the wrong hire to a substantial set of employees are all risks in the hiring process. The recruiting team must move very fast, and at the same time create a meticulous, rigorous evaluation and onboarding process. Every mediocre employee onboarded can be the reason a team is not meeting its KPIs, a department is not keeping up with the rest of the company or the entire company developing a difficult-to-escape from culture.
Re-thinking the recruiting process and the candidate experience
Now that the problem space is established, what can we do? First, we’d have to re-evaluate what the best way to recruit is - statistics tell us that quality candidates go through very fast cycles, sometimes as short as a week and a half, from the first approach to signing a contract. There’s no room for error.
This re-thinking should be done systematically and on the organizational level, and involve hiring managers and executives:
How can we improve the current recruiting efforts? Should we do more on the personal level? Should we market better? How can we better understand the candidates and the concept of a “match”? How do we deal with rejection? What is the process for drawing conclusions? How much and which data are we analyzing to always be well-informed of the current situation?
Note all the question marks, and - more importantly - note the lack of exclamation marks. We are in a time that demands questioning, a cold and deep inspection of the “lay of the land” and a constant improvement of the skills of our recruitment teams and other HR personnel.
The market is dynamic, ever-flowing and constantly changing - and so should we.
The author is the Director of HR and Operations at Lightrun.