Recruiting is a more complex activity

Assuming the company authorizes you to fill a position, the next step is to develop an applicant pool. It is hard to over emphasize the importance of effective recruiting. The more applicants you have, the more selective you can be in your hiring. If only two candidates apply for two openings, you may have little choice but to hire them. But if 10 or 20 applicants appear, you can use techniques like interviews and tests to screen out all but the best.

Effective recruiting is increasingly important today, for several reasons. Barring some dramatic change, there will soon be an undersupply of workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the United States will create 22 million new jobs between 2003 and 2010, but only about 17 million new entrants will join the workforce. Several things could change this scenario. If the country continues to export white collar jobs, the number of new jobs added domestically will diminish. However, current estimates are for outsourcing only about three million jobs to other countries between 2003 in 2015. Therefore, the trend through 2010 seems to favor the worker.

Even high unemployment, as in 2003-2004, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to find good candidates. For example, a survey during that period by the Department of Labor found that about half of respondents said they had ‘difficulty’ finding qualified applicants. About 40% said it was ‘hard to find’ good candidates. Effective recruiting is thus not just important when the unemployment rate is low.

Recruiting is a more complex activity than most managers think it is. It does not just involve placing ads or calling employment agencies. For one thing, your recruitment efforts should make sense in terms of your company’s strategic plans. For example, decisions to expand abroad or to fill a large number of anticipated openings imply that you’ve carefully thought when and how you will you do your recruiting. Second, some recruiting methods are superior to others, depending on the type of job you are recruiting for and what your resources are. Third, the success you have with your recruiting actually depends to a great extent on non-recruitment HR issues and policies. For example, deciding to pay a 10% higher salary and better benefits than most firms in your locale should, other things being equal, help you build a bigger applicant pool faster. The bottom line is that your recruiting plans (and HR plans in general) must be internally consistent, and make sense in terms of your company’s strategy.

Organizing the Recruitment Function:

Larger firms in particular, must decide if they will conduct all their recruiting company wide from a central recruitment office, or decentralize recruiting to the firm’s various offices. There are advantages to centralizing the recruitment function. First, centralizing makes it easier to apply the company’s strategic priorities companywide. For example, General Motors in North America, recently switched from decentralized to centralized recruiting. Formerly each of GM’s geographical units including its manufacturing plants did its own recruiting. GM decided to centralize recruitment because it wanted to strengthen its employment brand. Too many potential applicants erroneously viewed GM as somewhat old fashioned. GM wanted to break away from the old views and be portrayed more realistically. About 45 HR professionals in GM’s talent acquisition department now handle recruiting for all of GM’s North American Plants.

Recruiting centrally has other advantages. It reduces duplication (having several recruitment offices instead of one), makes it easier to spread the cost of new technologies such as Internet based recruiting and prescreening solutions and the department builds a team of recruitment experts, and makes it easier to identify why recruitment efforts are going well (or badly). It also produces synergies. For instance, instead of looking for one financial analyst, you recruit for five positions from the same candidate pool. If the firm’s divisions are autonomous, or their recruitment needs are varied, it may be more sensible to decentralize the recruitment function.

Line and Staff Cooperation:

The HR manager who recruits for a vacant job is seldom the one responsible for supervising its performance. He or she must therefore know exactly what the job entails and this means speaking with the supervisor involved. For example, the recruiter might want to know about the supervisor’s leadership style and about the work group – is it a tough group to get along with, for instance? He or she might also want to visit the work site, to review the job description with the supervisor to ensure that the job hasn’t changed, and to obtain any additional insight into the skills and talents the new worker will need. Line and staff coordination is therefore essential.

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