Recruiters morphing into matchmakers (Guest Commentary)

Recruiters should work closely with HR to ensure a good skills match
By Geoff Bagg
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/24/2012

The first online job board launched in 1992 and morphed into Monster in 1995. Workopolis went live in 2000. Since then, HR staff have had a new task — looking for needles in haystacks.

That’s because the days of manageable numbers of applicants looking for a job went the way of the busy telephone signal — unheard of.

As any overworked in-house HR specialist knows when wading through hundreds or thousands of resumés, more is not necessarily better. In addition, few companies assign HR staff the exclusive job of working a search but, instead, tack it on to an already long to-do list.

It wouldn’t be such a migraine if the trick was simply to match skills to the job. But it takes more than skill to be an asset to an organization — it also takes compatibility.

Getting along isn’t just a nice concept, it’s a high-stakes business necessity. A wrong hire can cost a company plenty in mistakes, wasted training, lost productivity and lowered team morale. Leaving a position open also comes with a price tag, including decreased productivity, loss of innovation and burnt-out employees who must pick up the slack.

The number of applicants, combined with pressure from the top to get the hire right, prompted an evolution within the staffing industry and the rise of a new breed of recruiters. Those who succeed don’t just recruit, they “matchmake.”

Why aren’t proven skills enough to trump personality? Because the employer and employee are in a relationship. And, like any relationship, if there’s no spark, there’s no energy to meet goals.

Take this case in point. A company hires an executive assistant (EA) with skills to produce stellar-looking reports. But this EA wants to contribute ideas and be heard. However, her boss isn’t interested in a new voice at the table. So the odds are good that EA will produce lacklustre reports while surfing for another job.

Or what about this scenario: A company seeks a proven hotshot analyst but offers no opportunity for advancement. Hotshots need to keep moving up. In one year, the analyst will likely have become frustrated with the lack of advancement and move to another employer, putting the company back at square one. A better solution is to find a hotshot in the making, someone who would stay for at least three years.

There is both a science and an art to matchmaking. The science is understanding organizational objectives, goals and operations. The art is to be curious, ask meaningful questions and actively listen to hear what’s being said.

We’ve come a long way from the days where complacent employees simply adapted to their workplace. But happy employees aren’t just good for morale, they are nothing less than a company’s competitive edge. Engaged employees drive growth. And for recruiters, setting up a great match is as good as it gets.

Tips for working with recruiters

Bring the hiring manager to the table: HR specialists often work as gatekeepers but it’s tough to find the perfect match when you haven’t met the other party. The sooner HR involves the hiring manager, the sooner the recruiter can identify and find the right fit.

Remember, there’s a buyer for every house: But you need to tell the real estate agent what you like and what you don’t to get the house for you. The same applies to finding a candidate. Timely feedback is powerful information that allows a recruiter to make the perfect match.

Be transparent: What you say to your recruiter stays with your recruiter. Tell it like it is. Maybe a team requires someone who is especially tough-skinned or a manager wants people to regularly burn the midnight oil. The recruiter isn’t there to judge but to find a candidate who will be fine with living it like it is.

Geoff Bagg is CEO of the Bagg Group, a Toronto-based staffing agency. For more information, visit www.bagg.com.

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