Recruitment vs selection, why understanding the difference makes a difference

10 Mar

Often we use the terms selection and recruitment interchangeably, many times I’ve been asked part way through a select process how the recruitment is going – and I’m guessing you’re been asked the same thing, potentially thinking nothing of it. However the two terms relate to related but different activities. Understanding the difference can greatly enhance your analysis ability when your processes are not working properly.

Recruitment is the process of gaining a pool of suitable applicants (suitable being define by the position description), in response to your advertising or promotion of the vacancy. While selection is the process of identifying from the applicant pool who is the most suitable applicant for the role.

I’ve mentioned the pool of applicants a couple of times and knowing what this pool should look like going into the recruitment phase can help you sort out any issues early on. Lets say say I’m advertising for a HR Consultant in a medium sized city, everything else being equal I would probably expect around 30 candidates (you number will differ depending on your location, rate of unemployment, salary level and a number of other factors), now in this example if I only received five applicants I would begin to question my recruitment methodology. And at this point it’s not a question of the quality of candidates, but the applicant pool was much smaller than I had estimated. I would look to understand if I had advertised in the right place, I might ask colleagues where they usually advertise (if I hadn’t already before advertising), I would check that the salary is correct for the role and the market, I would re-read the position description to ensure it communicates the role correctly. At this stage I can still make some corrections, I can extend the advertising period, or place the advertisement in another newspaper or website.

Once you have you pool of applicants, then you can move onto the selection phase. From here on in you have a closed group of applicants, one of whom may be the one you’re looking for. Selection is a large topic which we don’t fully cover in this posting.


LinkedIn: To pay or not to pay, that is the question

21 Dec

As a paid member of LinkedIn I’m frequently asked if its worth paying for a membership or not.  Because I’ve made this investment I keep track of whats happening in the LinkedIn space, and also how others are leveraging this professional social networking site.  A article that I read recently by Susan Adams provided some interested takes on the pros and cons of a paid membership, and gave insight into how to leverage this professional tool.  While I won’t paraphrase Susan, I will comment that she provided a well balanced argument with the outcome that for many entering into a paid membership may not be worthwhile – and for the most part I agree. 

I do however feel that there is one aspect which Susan and her contributors overlooked, that of keywords.  As a paid member, I get to see what key words people are finding me through.  As an Human Resources professional I had the term ‘Human Resources’ mentioned a number of times due to predominately working in these teams, what I didn’t have however was the term ‘HR’.  Approximately 20% of people arriving at my profile where doing so through the keyword ‘Human Resources’, a smaller percentage (3%) were arriving through the keyword ‘HR’.  Understanding that people were using the acronym to find me, I leveraged this through increasing the use of ‘HR’ alongside ‘Human Resources’, now a full 9% of people are finding my profile through the keyword ‘HR’.  A great result, I highly recommend LinkedIn members consider paying for a membership for a month – or taking up a free offer that LinkedIn offers from time to time on the basis of understanding how other users are finding you via keyword search.  Now my key words have stabilized, I will be ending my subscription after approximately six months of membership.  However I will return to a paid membership from time to time – probably twice a year, to do a health check on my keyword search results.

This recommendation of course does need to be weighted up with other factors, many of which Susan covers in her article.

Think you’re overqualified? Think again…

4 Dec

The myth of getting turned down because you’re overqualified is something I hear quite alot of complaints about, and often times directed at the recruitment area of organisations. Search on any employment type blog or LinkedIn thread and you’ll see often very successful people complaining about how their experience and qualifications are not letting them land the job they want – because they’re too good. Unfortunately its gotten to the stage where many seemingly believe their own BS – which is a disaster for them, and certainly not helpful for the economy when companies need the very best people they can find to reinvigorate grown and create jobs.

The first thing you need to do if you’ve found yourself in the middle of this destructive myth is to find the largest most successful companies that employ people with your skillset and start applying for roles that you believe you can do (Fortune 500 is often a good place to start – and start at the top of the list). Now one of two things are going to happen, you’re either going to be offered the role you deserve, or you’re going to be opening a lot of rejection letters. If you’ve received a job offer that’s fantastic, it means for one that you’re not overqualified, and two that you should have set your sights higher earlier. The other outcome is that you get rejection letters, which lets be honest means you weren’t good enough.

Now already I can tell that you’re slipping back into that self limiting belief that you’re been turned down because you’re just too good, your experience and/or qualifications are intimidating the hiring manager so you didn’t get the job. So lets examine that shall we, lets say for instance that you’re an IT Security Wizard, you have amazing experience, at least one if not more PhD’s under your belt etc – you’re the poster child for ‘overqualified’. Now lets say with all that you still don’t get the IT Security job with Google for example – however not only do you not get the job, you don’t even make it through the first round of selection. Lets be honest here, is that company really turning you down because you are simply too good? Or is it that while you were a wizard in your last company, you just simply don’t have the experience or qualifications to step up to the next level of company? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you’re well on your way to getting the job you want – you’ve just broken through your own BS. You’ve just worked out that you’re not over qualified or have too much experience, rather you were applying to companies that you’d outgrown.

There is another scenario which i’ve experienced myself, and it relates to the hiring manager – but not in the way you think. We all have different levels of experience and education, the issue occurs however when we forget this. I had an occurrence of this just recently, I applied for a marketing job – while it was a significant drop in pay ($30,000), it was with an employer that I really wanted to work with. Not only was it a drop in pay, but the hiring manager was actually earning less than I was in my current role at that time, however in my application I treated it like I was applying to a highly experienced manager. I made a whole bunch of assumptions based on that, did I get the job, no, not only did I not get the job I didn’t even get an interview. You’ll have to trust me that I was fantastic for the role, the issue however was that I didn’t clearly articulate that to the hiring manager in my application. My application was a little bit like an insider joke, the kind you need to be there for to understand – and the hiring manager didn’t get the punch line.

So please remember, you not getting turned away because you’re overqualified, you’re getting turned away for a number of reasons, such as not aiming high enough, aiming too high too soon, or because you’re not communicating very well to your target audience. In fact very similar reasons to why many people don’t get jobs everyday. So rid yourself of the self limiting belief of overqualified, and get on with finding a job in a company that you’ll love.

Is phone a friend working for you?

30 Nov

With somewhere around 80% of roles being filled without any advertising, the so called ‘hidden job board’ is alive and well. Indeed the likes of monster or seek would dearly love to increase their listings by even a quarter of this amount. Yet the science behind selection and recruitment warns us of the dangers of carrying out selection processes in this manner. In deed the sole purpose of recruitment is to gain a qualified applicant pool, from which to select the most suitable candidate (experience, qualifications, cultural fit etc). Are we trading the potential to get the best candidate currently available, for the ease of phoning a friend and doing our recruitment and selection over lunch?

In a discussion I recently had on LinkedIn this topic was discussed on a job seekers board, my contribution to the discussion was the assertion that companies operating on the ‘hidden job board’ simply don’t comprehend the predictive validity of best practice selection practices. With a history having its roots in the selection of US Air Force pilots, why are so many companies refusing to engage with recruitment professionals either in house or external recruitment organizations. As a HR Professional I speak to alot of business people, and the primary reason cited is unfortunately cost. When done correctly, recruitment quickly turns from a cost to an investment which pays off, when done incorrectly however recruitment is an enormous cost to organizations. Indeed Human Resource practitioners like myself are often called to come in and clean up the mess, trust me its much cheaper to invest in a high quality recruiter, than to have to pay the fees of HR Contractors to assist in exiting that hiring mistake.

While many may thing that I should be encouraging poor hiring decisions as they contribute significantly to my lifestyle, I would far rather spend my time talking with high performing employees and employers, discussing their training needs as they look to open new markets, discuss their recruitment requirements as they look to expand their operations, or indeed discuss their executive recruitment needs as they expand their management structure.

So please, prior to phoning a friend for all your hiring needs, consider the pros and cons of selecting from a limited pool of candidates. Are you making recruitment into a cost, or are you investing in the future of your company?