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November 25, 2002
Put the Strategy Back in Strategic Recruiting
by David Sabol, Manager of E-cruiting Technology Solutions

Most companies and consultants will have a difficult time explaining what strategy really means, because strategy could mean many different things to different companies. It is certainly not a concrete science and is always open to various degrees of interpretation. The differences in this interpretation are most often the cause of failure in strategy development. This failure is also fueled by a lack of understanding of a particular industry by strategy developers and a lack of management support that is needed to implement strategies.

The word 'Strategy' originates from the Greek 'strategos' which means "the art of the general". In simple terms, strategy is a general framework that provides guidance for actions to be taken and, at the same time, is shaped by the actions taken. This means that the necessary precondition for formulating strategy is a clear and widespread understanding of the ends to be obtained. Without these ends in view, action is purely tactical and can quickly degenerate into nothing more than a flailing about.

Strategy is one element in a four-part structure I call ESTM (pronounced esteem). First are the Ends to be obtained. Second are the Strategies for obtaining them, the ways in which resources will be deployed. Third are Tactics, the ways in which resources that have been deployed are actually used or employed. Fourth and last are the resources themselves, the Means at our disposal. Thus it is that strategy and tactics that bridge the gap between ends and means.

In addition to this background on strategy, your corporate recruitment strategy needs to take into account answers to fundamental questions relating to your companies mission and vision as well as its corporate and competitive strategies. Some of the questions you will want to ask as you define your recruiting strategy include:

Related to Mission and Vision

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we do?
  3. Why are we here?
  4. What kind of company are we?
  5. What kind of company do we want to become?
  6. What kind of company must we become?
Related to Corporate Strategy
  1. Do we have a current corporate recruiting strategy? If so, is it working?
  2. What assumptions have to hold for the current strategy to be viable?
  3. What are our growth, size and profitability goals?
  4. Will the loss of key talent adversely impact our ability to achieve these goals?
  5. In which markets, businesses, and geographies will we compete?
  6. Are we suffering from a critical talent gap in any of these areas? What are we doing to address them?
Related to Competitive Recruiting Strategy
  1. Do we have competitive recruiting strategy? If so, is it working?
  2. What assumptions have to hold for the current strategy to be viable?
  3. What is happening in our industry, with our competitors, and in general in regard to the identification, acquisition and retention of key talent?
  4. Are we effectively leveraging all recruitment channels in pursuit of this talent?
  5. Which sources are at the core? Which are currently underutilized?
  6. How can we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?
  7. What capabilities and capacities will we require now and in the future to meet essential talent needs?
  8. Do we have enough internal expertise to meet these needs? What resources and alternatives are available?
Driven by this information, you are much better equipped to formulate your recruitment strategy. A well thought out recruitment strategy should give the whole organization a plan and a guide. It should define the various factors necessary to address current employment markets, how your company will react to the future markets, and what steps will be taken to implement the strategies. It should define what actions will be taken in the short term and how these short-term actions will evolve and thrust the organization to meet its overall strategic objectives. Additionally, in order for a corporate recruitment strategy to work, it needs solid support from management, as it is a natural tendency for organization to resist change.

A recruiting strategy should begin by considering resources, costs, geography, and demographics. It should incorporate both passive and proactive methods to identify potential candidates. Begin by knowing the organization you're hiring for. Each company has its own personality, and candidates who fit that culture will be in a better position to contribute to its success than those who don't. Then differentiate the organization from all the others. Present an honest, detailed picture of it, emphasizing its advantages and unique concepts. Talk about life style in the organization and in the community where the organization is located.

Strategic recruitment also involves activity. It means aggressively locating potential candidates, contacting them, and then developing a relationship with them, not haphazardly advertising - in newspapers, on radios, on the Internet, by word of mouth, all for the sake of doing so.

In today's ever changing recruiting world, attracting and retaining skilled knowledge workers is still a very important issue for businesses. However, through the continuous development of measurable, actionable and executable goals developed through a well thought out process and methodology of analyzing your internal processes, competitive environment, new technologies, and business needs, your recruitment function can create a tremendous amount of value and impact your company's bottom line.


  About the Author
David Sabol, Manager of E-cruiting Technology Solutions of IIRC
IIRC is the pioneer of Internet recruitment consulting. He was selected by Recruiter Magazine Online as one of the 2002 Top 100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry. With IIRC, he advises clients on their HR technology purchasing decisions regarding ATS's, background check companies and narrowing technology. David has a dual BA in History and Political Science from East Stroudsburg University and is pursuing an MBA in Management of Information Services/E-Commerce from DeSales University. He also holds his Web Professional Certification from Penn State University

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