|What Tier Is Your Firm On?
Andrew Shapiro, President of The Cluen Corporation
|Before investing in
Recruiting technology, be sure that your Recruiting process is in place. You
can't sprint before you learn how to crawl. Over the past thirteen years, I
have reviewed over 1000 software implementations to executive search firms, and
I have seen a strong correlation between the maturity of a company's Recruiting
process and the types of recruitment technology that they are able to
implement. I now classify companies into one of four tiers of readiness to
absorb recruiting technology.
|Bottom Tier: Off The Cuff
Chaos triumphs over
information in a firm at this bottom tier. Individual recruiters tend to view
themselves as masters of their own information domains who are not bound by the
dictates of a structured methodology for working with clients and candidates.
There may be a suggested recruitment process, but it is used unsystematically
at best, based on the impulses of the individual recruiter.
|Being a bottom tier
organization does not mean you are a failure, it simply means that results are
unpredictable. In this type of company, assignments come in, offers are made,
and deals are closed. However, sometimes placement rates are 20 percent,
sometimes they are 1 percent. Sometimes searches close in a month, sometimes in
one year. Sometimes client/candidate satisfaction ratings are near 100 percent,
sometimes they are in the pits. The problem is nobody can explain why these
|The success of a
Bottom Tier firm is not dependent on automated Recruiting processes - because
there aren't any! Instead, it is based solely on the skill levels of individual
marketing, recruiting, and account management personnel.
|If there are no
Recruiting processes in place, it is impossible to implement a sophisticated
Recruiting system, as there is nothing to automate. Such companies need to do a
lot of work on process definition before they try to expand their Recruiting
technology plans. A firm at this tier would be best served by providing its
people with a step by step plan starting with basic contact management tools
that focus on increasing individual efficiency (contact managers, word
processors, spreadsheets, and e-mail) versus organizational effectiveness.
Immediate efficiency gains can be achieved through selective use of a powerful
automated system. Once individuals recognize the tremendous benefits that are
possible, further initiatives can begin -- baby steps.
|Middle Tier: Old Dog
A Middle tier executive
search firm is one in which things are pretty much under control. The
recruiters hit their numbers regularly, future business practices are
forecasted with a fair degree of confidence, and client satisfaction is within
an acceptable range. The key attribute of a middle tier company is that it
achieves its success not through sophisticated recruiting technology and
process, but rather through solid management.
|Middle Tier firms
are driven by "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - the belief that, "If we keep
using the best procedures of the past, we will keep hitting our numbers in the
future." These types of executive search firms tend to be profitable, but only
as long as there are no major changes in the way business is done in the
industry (which has been proven not to be the case).
|This type of company
can successfully implement a more advanced Recruiting technology than a Bottom
Tier firm. Since there is a recognized way of doing business, such tools as
applicant tracking, contact management, and job-posting software can be
implemented to help improve business processes.
|Upper - Middle Tier: All Ears
Tier executive search firm is one where the Recruiting processes have become a
way of life for the company. Every employee in sales, recruiting and research
has the manual for how things need to be done - not only the accepted way of
doing things, but also the only way to do them.
processes are so embedded into daily operations, they can be periodically
evaluated and enhanced. This type of firm is rarely caught off guard by changes
in the industry. It can detect very early on when practice areas begin to
shift, when competitive strategies are becoming more effective, or when client
satisfaction is just starting to decline.
|This type of
executive search firm is a most advantageous nominee for a more sophisticated
Recruiting technology. Processes are so well disseminated throughout the
business that these firms can successfully absorb technological innovations
such as search automation systems, knowledge management systems, and recruiting
metric analysis. Ironically, even though their systems are already reliable,
these firms may get the speediest payback from adopting industrial strength
tools and proven "best practices" techniques.
|Top Tier: Ascension
The Top Tier is where
every executive search firm wants to be. A firm at this level has solid
Recruiting processes that are optimized by the most sophisticated recruiting
technology. These companies also are strong believers in gathering and
continually analyzing metrics about their performance. They have a solid
understanding of how they recruit, how they manage candidates and practice
areas, and how they need to service clients to create long-term loyalty.
|Top Tier firms are
constantly questioning the status quo. They ask themselves such things as: Why
do 25 percent of the candidates who submit their resume online do not leave
pertinent information? Why do 15 percent of our Superstar candidates never
follow up? Why do 23 percent of the searches we conduct close past date? For
these types of firms, Recruitment technologies are not an option - they are a
necessity. Implementing Recruitment Technology is the only way these companies
can get the information they need to analyze and improve their
|A Top Tier company
is in a position to implement not just great Recruitment Technology, but great
knowledge management systems as well. The companies' knowledge of how they,
their practice areas, and their clients do business gives them the insights
they need to determine how to best leverage technology to optimize their
operations going forward.
|What's Your Level?
If you want to get a
feeling for how successful the implementation of your Recruiting technology
will be, first do a realistic "gut-check" on what type of organization you
have. If you find yours is a Bottom Tier firm, and you are currently planning
to implement a very sophisticated recruiting system, chances are you will fall
flat on your face. You are talking about running a four-minute mile when you
can barely walk around the block.
|Pick the level of
recruiting technology your organization can successfully absorb today. If you
don't like the Tier of maturity of your Recruiting processes, then work to
improve it. Once the changes have occurred, then upgrade your Recruiting
systems to match your new level of process performance. Most importantly, make
sure that you have proper guidance from a team that has done hundreds of
similar projects and will help you avoid the expensive and morale-busting
pitfalls that are lurking out there.
|This article was first published in