Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Qualia of Recruiting

"Qualia" is "an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us

Credit for today's random thought goes to a few recruitment vendors who stopped by to discuss "lean" process and recruitment "insourcing". The conversation took an interesting turn when the CEO mentioned a Harvard Business Review article on mental mapping -- the art/science of re-perceiving and aligning around assumptions.

What does this have to do with recruiting?

Ask your hiring managers to define the following:
  • Sourcing
  • Recruiting
  • Staffing
  • Headhunter
  • Recruiter
  • HR
  • Direct sourcing
Are your definititions aligned? Probably not. Ask your colleagues or your manager. Don't be surprised if you're not speaking the same language. Perceptions and philosophies of each of these roles or activities vary widely, from person-to-person, company-to-company, geography-to-geography.

I once had a hiring manager argue with me that what happens in the corporate recruiting department is not real "recruiting". He insisted that the headhunters that called to either solicit his business or lure him away were the "real" recruiters. He was surprised to learn that tools, tactics and approaches used by the in-house recruiters were the same as the external external headhunter approach. Often, I have found that when hiring managers use the term "sourcing" they are actually thinking about resume submittals or the number of available candidates.

Try a little mental mapping with your hiring managers. I am sure the folks at Harvard have created a complex algorithm, but I think that asking a simple question -- "What do you mean by X?" achieves the same result: a discussion in which you align on terminology and perceptions. Conversely, if you think your hiring manager is operating off whack perceptions, you might try asking, "Do you know what I mean by X?", or "What's your definition of X?"

If you're working with a difficult or resistant hiring manager, take the time to get aligned. Some managers are impressed and fascinated by the work we do. Others couldn't care less. A good friend of mine (and top-notch recruiting manager) likens it to sausage. Everyone likes to enjoy the outcome, but few have the stomach to find out what goes into sausage making. In today's competitive recruiting environment, managers don't have the luxury of being ignorant to the sausage-making. Great managers know how to get great talent, and consider recruiting a core competency.

Every once in a while, share an ERE article or interesting blog post with your hiring managers. Build your credibility by highlighting credible sources of professional information. At the same time you build a common language, set of references and alignment of perceptions and philosophies with your customer, which, ultimately leads to faster, better recruiting.

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