The project cycle in recruitment is amazingly long. A job opens up, documents are drawn up and approved, advertisements go out. We rarely have a chance to change the process while it is in mid-flow; and in any case, that may be illegal.
But what can we learn by thinking like a marketer? Are we just learning to tweak our advertisements? Are we learning more about our people, i.e., our market?
The key ideas in this phase revolve around a concept that is really difficult to grasp. Markets are organic and we need to think about them as it they are ‘alive’ and ‘talking back to us’. We not only learn about them but we grow through our conversations with them as they do in turn. But they are influenced not only by us but by other people too. Herein lies the catch and three goals.
- We listen to what the market is saying back. Do we get phone calls asking for more information? And what are applicants interested in?
- What did applicants already know about us and who around them prompted them to call? Are we learning more about the market and personas?
- Do we see “welcome” in this group and what is the market pulling us to do?
How can we think about this procedurally?
Anticipate the patterns of calls and questions. At the start of a recruitment cycle, we should write down whom we expect to call and the questions we expect them to ask. Is our sense of who will take an interest and when they enter and leave the application process getting updated?
Anticipate the community around the job. At the start, write down whom we think is interested in this job. Which mentors and patrons will notice the job and pass it on? Who is actively watching the recruitment channels and who was alerted by a colleague? What are we learning about the community around the job? If you asked callers a question such as do you have colleagues who are applying, what would they say? Above all, ask if they knew the job was coming up before you advertised it? Is the job part of wider community or are you trying to forge a relationship with the community?
Anticipate your role in this living thing called the market. As you listen to the question people ask, then you develop a sense of whether you are part of their world or whether they are applying because you offered a job. We often look for this information, arrogantly, in selection. But what you are trying to establish in recruitment is whether your recruitment is talking to an established need or if you are having to stimulate that need. Are we already part of a community? Did applicants know this job was coming up and did they know because someone told them but because “of course” the job was coming up because there is an internal logic to their community of which we are a part? Importantly, it also follows that this community, being ‘alive’ is always changing. We should be getting a sense of this ‘living creature’ and understanding that our relationship with it will change. Recruitment is not just doing some set piece tasks; it is an expression of this relationship and the next time we recruit, we be going through the entire process again because the market has changed, as have we.
Will a marketing mindset be helpful to you?
Recruiters exist to bridge an organisation with the outside world but most are simply on the periphery without a good sense of what the organisation does and so focused on their commissions that they don’t think very much at all about the community behind the labour supply. But if you want to write better advertisements and achieve good placements more quickly, that paying some attention to the essential marketing character of recruiting might help you.