The Easiest Thing an Employer Recruiter can do to bring real value to the recruiting process without spending a dime – “Be an Advocate, not an Assistant.”

All successful sales professionals set up an “evaluation system” to determine their effectiveness, their personal income prospects, and value to their employers. But in our test market of hospitals and physician-owned practices over the last six years, rarely did I find an employer recruiter – called an “Internal Recruiter,” who does the same thing to monitor their efficiency, costs, closing percentages, and retention, among other important statistics, in the same manner. 

Although our business currently is with hospitals, my experience is that for many employers in all industries, their recruiting protocols lack basic professional selling tenets. In fact, many internal “recruiters” are NOT really salespeople but “assistants” who almost aimlessly follow their candidates.

Hospital recruiting is at a high cost (not just financial) and many have not taken a serious look at their recruiting process despite the Internet changing career search completely.  But some are starting to see their shortcomings – and understand the need to better market and sell themselves, and fill jobs faster, more competitively, and less expensively – plus focus on harnessing technology.

But a great deal of recruiting losses and shortcomings can be eradicated by internal recruiters incorporating basic sales tenets that cost nothing to implement.

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Off the bat, the easiest and perhaps most important thing an internal recruiter can do to improve upon their results is to “stop following” candidates around and instead have the focus to be an Advocate for the candidate, and not the candidate’s “secretary.” 

  • Even if the internal recruiter is not the one who will put together the pro forma or any sophisticated compensation package, nor may not be involved in the “final close,” their responsibility is to “clear the way” or “set the table” for both sides to get to that point.

To ultimately craft a competitive, repeatable, discernable recruiting protocol, becoming their candidates’ advocate is the easy and simply takes a change in approach:

1)     An advocate is expert on what candidates need to know – this knowledge promotes a proactive nature which anticipates needs which gains the candidates’ respect.

2)     An advocate understands the competitive component – they aren’t recruiting in a vacuum, but aware they need to not just sell, but outsell all other options of their candidates.  They provide information for comparison that favors their employer, plus help candidates recognize the more favorable characteristics of their open jobs vs. competitors.

3)     An advocate must have a real commitment to technology. Today’s jobseekers are online and any good internal recruiter insists on having the best tools to exhibit their jobs, as well as to communicate to and with jobseekers/candidates.

1) Be an Expert on what candidates need to know:

If you become a bona fide expert on the issues and subjects your candidates need to know, you will gain a measure of respect with the candidate and ultimately become a confidant.  In fact, your only benefit to them will be what you know and who you know.  You can either be a professional whom they trust and rely on or if they see that the extent of your “help” is helping them pick Holiday Inn or the Sheraton, their “wall” will never come down – you will never have a “peer” relationship where they take you seriously. 

It’s pretty easy to discern the needs of your candidates – especially if they are relocating and your service area.  A relocating candidate should want to know about your area’s economy and lifestyle issues (higher-end earners will want to know about the Arts, Country Clubs, private schools, shopping, high-end real estate, etc.).  Many will want to know about civic groups or have interests in investing in the community. 

For example, if your candidates express that they have middle school children who are high achievers, don’t just drive past a school and drop an awful cliché like your competitors such as “our schools are great and highly-rated,” but be an expert on the details, such as how the International Baccalaureate (IB) program was founded, then set up a meeting with its director, then tour its facilities.  Talk about the new middle school being built and arrange for a tool to display its technology. Introduce your candidate to the PR person of the school system.  Then make a point to inquire about private schools/academies and then do the same.

If you are in a smaller town, drive past construction sites and point out what is going on.  Discuss in detail projects in the community and arrange for meetings with economic development principals to review floor plans with your candidates.  Introduce candidates to the Director of Economic Development.

Especially in a smaller community, you should remind candidates that they should want to know about the economy so they can project outward their career.

Here are key examples of your showing you have done homework and prepared a visit.  You were proactive.  You have knowledge your competitors don’t.  Your competition didn’t do this, and you are setting yourself apart from competitors’ recruiters as someone who “has the answers.” You are an expert who has anticipated needs, and added real value to your candidates’ job searches. These are memorable things to jobseekers.  Ultimately, knowing you have information and know the right people will promote a unique change in the attitude of your candidates which may open the real doors to learning the major issues needed to close them. 

Regarding a candidate’s expertise – if he is a cardiologist – you don’t need to be able to talk on his or her level, but you should be well-schooled on all the equipment and facilities of your employer – depending on your specific role, you may or may not need to understand the financial opportunity as well as any guarantees or packages your employer with offer.  This is easier than you think, especially if you aren’t the deal maker but just the facilitator to the CFO or the board who will present the offer.

I could give all kinds of examples of being a prepared expert who has done your homework, who is a student of your employer and your service area, who knows the right people – but I think you get my point!  Be an active student of your employer and your service area and be proactive in sharing that information in the form of personal visits or that you know key people.

2) Understand the competitive component:

Too many recruiters forget the candidates they are dealing with – especially if they are doctors, can have as many as 8 different options when they make the commitment to interview.  They speak in clichés that really say nothing and don’t serve to distinguish themselves or their service area from the other options which makes the candidates feel isolated and alone.

Cliché phrases include “our hospital is like one big family” and “our community is small and it’s great for families.” As much as this may be true, these aren’t selling points when your five competitors are repeating these clichés.  Real sales professionals are taught to provide information that leads prospects to the conclusions you want them to reach.  Therefore, your goal should be to present them with information in the form of visits and meetings, so they can determine for themselves these facts. 

And during dialogues, asking open-ended questions such as “how do we compare vs. your other choices” will bring out discussions to give you clues as to what candidates are interested in, as well as any misconceptions or wrong facts they have.

For example, let’s say you learn a candidate enjoys golf and the wife enjoys high end shopping, and although there are two country clubs in your service area but no major malls with top department stores, you might arrange for the couple to visit and have a snack with the Director of a local golf club – and prior to the trip you might speak with the wives of a few members who agree to meet all of you, who can tell the candidate and his wife where they shop.  In this case, the key is acknowledging that there is no Lord & Taylors locally, but the wife had the chance to learn where her future neighbors shop. 

Let’s say your competitor also has golf, but avoids the subject of shopping and chooses to hide from it since they don’t have high end shopping either.  Perhaps your arranging to have your candidates meet local people who discussed it and reassured them, may make the difference.

Or if another competitor doesn’t have a private club (who says you can’t do your homework and compare these other places?) – you not only have the advantage but you made a point to visit one of yours.

Thus, if you have a good working relationship with the candidate, as you get to closing them you have this “ammunition” to use in your favor while you help them compare their career options vs. being a secretary they would never confide in.

Another example might be in your economy, which may be more diversified than other options of your candidate, which may be looking at a one industry town.  I think it’s a good thing to ask your candidate to consider how it would affect their career if the furniture manufacturer in that other town they are considering closes.

The bottom line here is open-ended questions.  Talking to candidates in terms of being an expert on what they need to understand to reach real decisions for their career, and taking time to help them compare your opportunity vs. others, pays off.

3. Commit to Technology:

It’s clear that jobseekers have moved to the Internet.  We have also seen a huge rise in the use of smart phones and the iconic iPad among the high-end medical jobseekers whom we assist our clients in recruiting.  The facts are that high-speed Internet is 10 years old now and by 2012 that will mean 3 generations of college graduates will have graduated – the point being that the college grad will have “grown up online.”

Internal recruiters need smart phones – I personally highly recommend the iPhone (Our group made the first web-based recruiting product in 2002 but we made a “micro” product for smart phones in 2006 – well before the iPhone).  Many professionals prefer to text, especially if they are busy.  It may sound a little silly to text your candidates, but not so much if you remember points #1 and #2 – you want to show you have knowledge, you are at least tech-competent, and your competitors may not be doing it.

  • Use an iPhone.  Use it to communicate with your candidates.  The iPhone is an iconic tool that you will grow to love through its applications and ease of use.  It’s a “hip” technology product and I think it’s the trendsetter in mobile communications.  It will send a good message to candidates.  And if you can afford it – get an iPad.  I believe in this product so much that our work is oriented toward our video content being fully viewable on it.

And as the Internet is so broad and open now, the days of merely referring your candidates to a handful of websites as the sum total of your using the Internet to “recruit” them shows badly and can lead to disaster. 

For instance, imagine merely providing a candidate a link to your local paper – and on today’s headline is news of a drug bust at the local high school, or worse, a double-homicide.  And reconsider merely providing jobseekers with the school district’s website – most all of the content has nothing to do with what the jobseeker needs or wants to know – and they can find that by themselves so you really did nothing for them.

Our company is the maker of Online Job Tour®, which is a patented invention and a great recruiting tool that “brings the onsite interview experience to the jobseeker” – here are some samples:  www.onlinejobtour.com/samples.php.

  • While our product is the premier tool to both communicate as well as sell careers – living in your area and working in your company, consider anything besides throwing jobseekers a handful of websites for them to ferret through to “sell yourself.”  That’s obviously not proactive selling.

If not Online Job Tour, at least provide candidates with web articles that present fair information and news on subjects which are important – at least you did some homework for them vs. your competitors which really don’t do anything to help.  While I believe it is far better to “reach” them with our invention/product, a streaming video with testimonials, even if relatively cheaply made, is better.  DVDs are older but a delivery system for streaming videos or some kind of visual presentation.  Although paper of any kind is pretty much dead to today’s jobseekers, a clean marketing slick or high-quality brochure – maybe with the DVD in it, is better than being passive and hoping.

  • Our product and these other options cost money.  If you can’t get your senior executive to call me to negotiate some kind of deal for us to craft an Online Job Tour for your employer, then at least start collecting timely Internet pieces – and be sure to put them in categories that are relevant to your prospects.  It takes your time, but they would be more appreciated by your candidates.

I hope this blog entry has convinced you that changing your approach, and a few modifications to becoming a bona fide advocate for the needs of your candidates, will impact your results in a big way.

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