Posted on 23 Aug 2016

We’re a lucky bunch at PageUp! Being part of the internal recruitment team means we get to use our own product (yay!), allowing us fast access to thought leadership as well as the opportunity to contribute to product ideas and enhancements. And as talent acquisition professionals working for a talent management software company ourselves, we try to keep abreast of the latest recruitment practices and trends, and adopt the ones we believe could work for us and our own employees and candidates.

There are a lot of talent acquisition trends out there, and Bersin shared some of these goodies last year – most of which are still very much relevant today. Let me share with you a few that we ourselves have tried to adopt at PageUp and our learnings from them.

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Surfing the Pipeline
Many of you will nod knowingly when you hear the terms ‘proactive sourcing and pipelining’. It’s certainly not a new concept and has been in recruitment dialogue for many years now. Yet how many of us do it effectively ourselves or even know those who are? Why is that? Probably because it’s actually not as easy as it sounds! Plus it requires a significant level of commitment from the organisation, in the form of time and money.

This trend was still in its infancy as I joined PageUp. My manager and I could see the potential pay offs so we set up the basic process. Our initial approach was a little flawed. What we wanted to do and what we were able to do were not necessarily aligned! Because open roles take priority, the proactive sourcing was something we’d do on the fringes. I ended up doing market mapping and proactive candidate outreach (via multiple channels such as LinkedIn, MeetUps, Stack Overflow, Facebook, Twitter etc.) in the few ‘quieter’ weeks of the year (Christmas time) when people go on holidays. Not an effective strategy! However, what we did do well during that period was incidental pipelining. We would phone screen and meet a lot of good people for whom we didn’t have quite the right role at the time, but for whom we could see fitting into our future plans. We proactively and successfully maintained relationships with them to eventually place them into roles six, 12 and even 18 months down the track.

The success of our incidental pipelining over the last few years is enough to put validity into the ‘trend’ that there could be huge advantages in having a committed proactive sourcing strategy. Our senior management agreed and this year we have an organisation-wide objective to pipeline critical talent. This is HUGE! What it means is increased hiring responsibility for each of our leaders and hiring managers. We have been collaborating on defining which roles are critical and what ‘qualified’ means. We’ve been busy discussing what I like to call the “courtship” process of converting the talent we uncover into prospective candidates and then onto being hires. It’s a big undertaking, and as such, we’ll be using multiple channels to reach target candidates. We’ll leverage our own PageUp CRM (candidate relationship management) functionality to track and flag candidates when we (either our team or the manager) need to get in touch. The make-or-break will come down to how well each of us, from the recruitment team through to the hiring manager, builds and maintains the relationship. In many ways it replicates the sales cycle; the sourcing guru generates the leads and the managers are like BDMs helping to convert them from a lead to a prospect. Ultimately it’s a team effort to get a successful hire!

Ignorant man giving a dismissive shrug

I am a Recruiter Now?? That was not in my PD!
Imagine (probably not hard as likely this has happened to you), someone has reached out to you, they have seen your profile or someone mentioned your name to them at an event and they want to speak to you about a career opportunity. Who would you rather speak to? A company talent acquisition consultant or the head of that team/department? Most people I ask say the team leader or someone from that team. Of course it has more gravitas, but that aside, it provides the potential candidate a direct line of sight into that role, the team and importantly their potential manager.

One of our executive leaders a few months ago said to me, “I believe it is my job to build and maintain relationships with exceptional talent because ultimately they are the key to our future success as a team”. I think we can expect to see this mindset from an increasing amount of leaders and managers. The proposition is similar to that of referrals or event recruiting, in that it really draws on the principle of building trust. We are much more responsive to career conversations and more likely to accept a role, if we know someone who works there. This is most powerful when we know the hiring manager but can extend to knowing one or more possible team members through personal networks or having met at an event. Our Strategic HR Business Partner joined our team last year because our SVP of Global Talent had maintained a relationship with her for over 3 years.

I asked a recent hire into our tech team why he chose to apply to us. He told me that he’d seen our job ad and while he thought it read ok, he didn’t apply immediately. A week later he mentioned it in passing to a friend, who said, “I know their CTO. He has a very good reputation and I hear they are doing some good things over there. Maybe you should explore further.” He subsequently applied and a few months later, here he is. For me these are both examples of true ‘social’ recruiting. The power of people.

Discussing ideas

Would I Lie to You?
We could have every single employee referring and recruiting but if they’re not representing our work environment authentically there is little chance those people will convert to hires. And even if they did, there’s little chance they would stay. This has touch points across the entire sourcing and recruitment process, and as such it is critical to share relevant and real content about what it is like to work with us. From the job ad through to how we represent ourselves on social and professional networks, to a phone interview and onto the later stages of our recruitment process. This extends to sharing the tough parts of the role and workings inside the organisation as much as it does the exciting parts. People require appropriate information so they have the opportunity to opt in or opt out. In the more than ten years I’ve been in the recruitment field I have lost count the amount of times people have told me, they were ‘sold’ an entirely different opportunity and even culture to what they eventually experienced. While we might not always get it right, we must always endeavour to ensure that is not an experience our people ever go through. Megan M. Biro, a well respected global authority on all things employment branding, covered the importance of authenticity (among other things) neatly in a recent Forbes article.

Successful collaboration work

Challenge Accepted
So we have a lot to do this new financial year as a team. Set up a robust external talent pipeline and measure its success, integrate an internal talent pipeline and map career paths (read more about the connection between retention and career paths), increase our employer brand presence and establish the various processes behind each of these to ensure they are global and scaleable.

I’m sure you’ll be facing your own recruitment challenges too while working towards sourcing, hiring and onboarding the best possible candidates for your organisation. Hopefully some of the experiences I’ve shared will prove useful to you in your talent acquisition endeavors going forward.