Having a recruitment plan ready to implement when the economy turns will prepare your organisation for the recovery and reduce the likelihood of further cuts to your department, according to Dr John Sullivan.
Having a plan demonstrates to executives that "[internal recruiters are] not stupid, they understand this will end, and even though we haven't done that well during the recession, we will explode out of the box and beat everyone else to the best people'," he told the Australasian Talent Conference in Sydney yesterday.
The vital elements of a recovery plan, he says, are:
Identify the first positions your organisation will open up after its hiring freeze. If your organisation isn't 'number one' in its market, watch your competitors, Sullivan says. When they start hiring 'x' roles again you should follow suit;
Identify likely turnover and retirement. "When the economy turns around, people who wouldn't quit right now will quit."
There are easy ways to predict who might be about to leave, Sullivan says. These include:
checking the CVs of current employees to see their average tenure and where they are in now in that cycle;
observing who has just bought "three new suits and has gone to the dentist every Friday";
monitoring who is suddenly attending conferences (when they previously didn't); and
asking payroll to keep you informed about the employees who make enquiries about their entitlements.
Develop your talent pool and build relationships with the people in it. Send them regular newsletters to keep them up to date.
Update your recruitment tools and get some new strategies.
Identify low-cost tools - "because you're probably not going to have a lot of money when this happens".
Do a competitive analysis of your brand. "When you open up jobs, so will your competitor. What is the other guy going to do? You have to be able to counter their actions."
Bolster your employer brand.
Identify candidate expectations. If you ask candidates what they want during a tough time, the answer is "a job" and "security", but when things turn around it's "innovation; the ability to make decisions; the ability to make money... You better find out what they are.
"How many of you, formally, in your hiring process, ask the candidate 'what are your decision criteria? What criteria will you use to make this decision?' And then you should change your sales approach... [But] what we really do is assume they all want the same thing, and we give them the same speech...
"Top performers are totally different. If you talk about money to top performers - if you say to Tiger Woods 'you're going to make a lot of money' - [the response will be] 'no kidding. I know that.'"
Get executives to agree on the criteria that triggers implementation of the plan.
Advantages of recruiting in difficult times
If your organisation doesn't have a strong name or brand, Sullivan says, now is the best time for you to be recruiting because your competitors probably aren't.
There's also an opportunity to "swap", he says, and keep your headcount stable while replacing bottom performers with the better talent now available in the market.
He points out "a key number you better know" - there is a 60-times difference between top and bottom performers "and you don't pay top performers 60 times more".
An additional benefit of swapping employees is that "if you recruit 'Tiger Woods', everyone else will want to work for him".
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