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How You Present Candidates Matters
As many of you know, I advocate a Six Sigma process methodology for hiring. This requires formal processes, procedures, and metrics at each step in the hiring process. In my opinion, sendouts per hire is the most important metric of them all. When this is three or less, it indicates that the hiring process is in control. More than three indicates inefficiency or problems somewhere in the process. It also represents a great opportunity to save time, money, and scarce resources.
Another basic theme I stress at our recruiter boot camp is that recruiters must be intimately involved in all phases of the hiring process, from helping to define the requisition to finalizing the offer. This is the only way to ensure that good candidates are not inadvertently excluded and that searches aren't being done over again. The sendouts-per-hire ratio is an all inclusive measure of this. When sendouts per hire are greater than three, it means sourcing isn't up to snuff, job needs aren't clearly understood, or that someone on the interviewing team is not very good at assessing candidate competency and motivation. Controlling all of these steps is required to minimize the number of sendouts.
Improving the quality of your candidate presentation is one of three primary ways for a recruiter to gain more control of the final hiring decision (the other two are helping to prepare the job description and leading the debriefing sessions after the candidate has been interviewed). In this article, we'll focus on how to use your candidate presentation to reduce the number of sendouts required for each assignment.
Here are the four things you need to do to make sure every candidate you recommend is more seriously considered. When you make these steps part of your sendout regimen, your productivity and reputation will soar.
- Submit only professional resumes. Take responsibility to make sure the resume you submit is professional — with no errors, inconsistencies, or gaps. This candidate reflects your judgment, so cover all of the key issues with your client beforehand and highlight these. Instruct the candidate to redo the resume to incorporate any of the changes you suggest. The resume is an important document. It's important that recruiters ensure this is as good as possible. If you're just moving paper about, you're really just administrating a recruiting process — not impacting one. As you all know, managers will discard resumes that are unprofessional. It's the recruiter's obligation to make sure they're not.
- Submit a formal ranked assessment for each candidate. Even if you just conduct a phone screen, you should formally assess each candidate and submit your evaluation. Even a minimal interview should consist of a good review of work history, coupled with a quick assessment of the candidate's most significant accomplishments. Make sure you take good notes. These should describe the actual results achieved, examples to prove key traits, and an assessment of critical job-related factors. I suggest evaluating the critical traits (some include motivation, ability, team skills, cultural fit, trend of growth) using a formal assessment template (email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of our form you can use) ranking the candidate on a one-to-five scale for each trait. This formal assessment demonstrates that the recruiter conducted a professional and balanced assessment. The hiring manager will then typically conduct an equally thorough assessment, using your rankings as a reference point.
- Include a summary of your interview notes. Type up your notes into two paragraphs, clearly defending why you ranked the person as a strong potential candidate. The best way to do this is by providing clear examples of job-related accomplishments. For example, "Julie has exceptional financial reporting skills. While she was at Dobo Corp. she handled all of the quarterly and annual SEC reporting for a $200 million NASDAQ-traded company. She also automated the process to reduce report prep from over 250 hours to approximately 100 hours." These notes reinforce the assessment template and the resume. They provide further evidence that you conducted a complete interview. All of this is building your case that the candidate you're recommending is worthy of a complete interview. As long as the candidate is strong, ammunition like this is a means to offset lack of other credentials or weak interviewing skills. It also forces the hiring manager to look past first impressions and other superficial criteria.
- Summarize the candidate's two best job-related accomplishments. Ask the candidate to summarize his or her two most relevant accomplishments into a one-page document (two paragraphs for each accomplishment). Send this, along with the resume, the 10-factor assessment template, and your notes, to the hiring manager. Ask the hiring manager to review the two accomplishments first. This way, the initial discussion will quickly address real candidate accomplishments, not small talk.
When you submit these four documents together as part of your formal presentation package, you'll be immediately branded as a professional.
Some people will consider this as requiring too much work. However, reducing sendouts for each assignment by 50-100% will give you all the time you need to put the package together. Once you get the process down, it will only take you 30 minutes for each candidate. So the one hour you invest in this process will save you 8 to 12 hours trying to find more candidates for an assignment that by all rights should have been completed in less time. With the net 10+ hours you'll save, you'll be able to find better candidates for each assignment or work on more assignments. In the process, you'll earn the reputation you deserve for a professional job well done.
The formal presentation package I'm recommending is designed to prevent common hiring errors and typical problems from occurring. We have discovered that many errors made during the hiring process can easily be eliminated with a little forethought. Recruiters sometimes overlook critical issues. Hiring managers frequently conduct superficial interviews. Everyone is biased. No one has enough time. One member of the interviewing team who is having a bad day or is a weak interviewer can waste days of work.
It only takes one "no" based on a superficial or misguided assessment to eliminate a strong candidate. A complete, thorough presentation package eliminates most of the these problems before they have a chance to develop.
The presentation process and formal presentation I'm recommending clearly indicates that the recruiter has conducted an in-depth and accurate assessment. This eliminates the common belief many managers have that recruiters are just pre-screening resumes.
Providing evidence of real ability alters the fundamental purpose of the hiring manager interview. No longer is it to determine if the candidate is a possibility, but rather if the candidate is one of the finalists. This is a surefire way to reduce the number of sendouts. The recruiter has done all of the hard work and is now seen as a critical piece of the hiring puzzle, not just someone submitting resumes. When your clients believe that every candidate you recommend has a 50/50 chance of getting hired, you'll be thanked for a job well done. You'll deserve it.
Lou Adler (email@example.com) is the president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm that develops leading-edge recruiting strategies. Adler is a veteran recruiter and founder of CJA Executive Search. He's also the creator and founder of POWER Hiring and "Zero-based Hiring -- The Six Sigma Process for Hiring Top Talent." His industry career included general management positions with the Allen Group, as well as senior-level financial management positions with Rockwell International's Automotive and Consumer Electronics groups. Lou is the author of the bestselling, Hire With Your Head - Using POWER Hiring to Build Great Companies (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), and the award-winning Nightingale Conant audio tape program, POWER Hiring: How to Find, Assess, Hire and Keep Great Talent (1999). Adler holds an MBA from UCLA and a B.S. in Engineering from Clarkson University, New York.
Article originally appeared on the Electronic Recruiting Exchange.