recruiters that overdeliver

Overdeliver on talent in this market? No such thing! 

This article presents ideas on how to improve your recruiting outcomes by working with the right recruiter, plus the 6 essential things you must do to run a successful hiring process. If you’re failing to attract quality candidates, we will diagnose the problem below. 

How Do You Rate?

Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, conducts this blue sky exercise when shaping new product offerings. He asks employees to envision the spectrum of what an Airbnb experience could look like, from acceptable to exceeding their wildest dreams. It goes something like this:

“OK, if I could get a 5-star rating as an Airbnb host, what would that look like?”

I’d arrive, the rooms would be ready, access would be easy, the place would be tidy and well-appointed.

“If I could get a 6-star rating, what would that look like?”

All of the above, PLUS there’s some helpful tips about exploring the neighborhood, warm cookies and a bottle of wine in the fridge.

A 7-star rating would be all of the above, PLUS the owner lets me use his car, bikes and boat.

The conversation progresses until the group has defined an incredible 10-star experience where the host flies them in on a private jet and they go to a concert on the moon… You get the picture. 

 How is this exercise useful? It allows Gebbia to see the possibilities to overdeliver on the Airbnb experience. To set himself apart from the status quo. Conjure up the most aspirational ideas because some of them might, in fact, be actionable. (To listen to Joe Gebbia describing this process, go to 15:30 of this episode of The Tim Ferriss Show.)

His approach can be applied to any business or process to create a better product, including recruiting efforts at your company. The questions to ask are: How can we overdeliver on identifying, hiring and onboarding talent? How can we overdeliver on candidate experience?

Recruiting Myths

But before we describe a 10-star recruiting experience, it’s necessary to define our baseline. What does a recruiter even do? As an industry, we’ve done a relatively underwhelming job of depicting our role and value proposition. In the absence of a strong definition, lots of myths and mysteries abound, like the image of hunting heads with spears and scary face paint. If you’ve thought about it for more than a nanosecond (and why would you?), you might define a recruiter as someone who posts on job boards and reviews resume submissions. Or maybe they’re a yenta-sensei-matchmaker with a database of amazing and available candidates. The reality is that effective recruiters use direct 1:1 sourcing to uncover the hidden A-list talent. Meaning, they spend hours identifying [passive] candidates, getting them on the phone and selling them on the opportunity. 

So if those are the table scraps, the threshold requirements for anyone calling themself a recruiter, where are the opportunities to surprise and delight?

The 10-Star Recruiter

Those of you who have worked with 10-star rated recruiters know what one looks like. They don’t just take job orders. They:

  • Collaborate with hiring teams to define the ideal candidate profile
  • Learn your company values and culture and weave them into a compelling employer story
  • Offer insights about compensation and other talking points to attract candidates
  • Push back on unicorn job descriptions
  • Proactively lead smart interview processes
  • Predict and defend against counteroffers
  • Are early adopters of the tools, trends and technology that make all of the above easier

A 10-star recruiter overdelivers on all aspects of the hiring process, not just bringing candidates to the table.

To engage with recruiters at this level, the following must be true:

  1. Hiring managers commit to a briefing call to review and prioritize critical skills, describe immediate projects and team, how success will be measured and other important job details beyond the job description. This is a blueprint for how we run the search.
  2. Beyond critical skills, we’ve articulated how we sell the job to prospective employees. In our current reality where candidates are bombarded with multiple recruiting messages daily, they’re being selective about what they listen to. What can we offer that other employers cannot?
  3. We’ve architected a thoughtful and objective interview process, including only essential decisionmakers, each with a clear role about which skills they’re evaluating. Interviews are not so arduous or meandering that we lose candidates.
  4. A sincere commitment to candidate experience. We honor the time and effort they invest by being prepared for interviews and providing detailed feedback after.
  5. We start pre-closing early so there are no surprises at the offer stage. This is where any objections, questions or risks are addressed to ensure we put forward the strongest possible offer.
  6. Equally invested in the outcome. Frequent conversation and transparency about updates to job profile, level, salary, etc. Nothing stands still for long: Teams change, positions go on hold or are canceled. Recruiters invest a lot upfront in the research and outreach steps. It’s hard to absorb major changes late in the game, and they leave everyone’s reputations a little bruised.

10-star recruiters are ambassadors of your company. They are usually the first person that candidates meet. As the adage goes, you only get one chance to make a good impression. If you fumble the intro meeting with a 6-star recruiter, then not only do you fail to entice awesome talent to interview, but you damage your employer brand.

Good to Great

When we need to hire fast, we make the minimum effort to get something off the ground. For example, we post a template job description or We’re Hiring! banner on our LinkedIn profiles. It’s a 6-star effort that we mean to upgrade later, but don’t always get around to it. We leapfrog over the essentials above and hope for the best.  

But once you’ve stayed at a 10-star Airbnb, it’s hard to go back to a 6-star, isn’t it? What’s the message you’re sending to candidates? Welcome to our company, where we have not considered the comfort of your stay and hope you can get by on these crappy provisions without bothering us. 

Consider a blue sky exercise to uncover what a 10-star hiring process looks like. Then go out and find yourself a 10-star recruiter.

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