To Be A Great Internal Recruiting Shop: Think Like A Startup

“You don’t need to have a 100-person company to develop that idea”                                                        

–Larry Page, Google co-founder

A lot of folks I know in the HR space work on the corporate side. They typically work in smaller internal shops, charged with doing a vast array of HR activities, including recruiting. Or they may be a recruiting specialist, but are the (as in singular) recruiting specialist for that 500-person company. Some may wonder, what about this set-up is good?

Frankly, there’s something to be said about owning and executing your own recruiting process. Not only is it satisfying, but also the best way to become a credible recruiting subject matter expert is doing it yourself. Although in-house recruiting isn’t perfect, experience has taught me there is typically no better advocate for your company brand than an internal recruiter.

Here is the deal. I am definitely not against outsourcing. At some point most in-house, corporate recruiting departments must seek outside help. Simply stated, outsourcing at times is the best route to get things done. It is smart, effective, and fiscally the right thing to do. I’ve done it myself at times and will continue to do so.

However, one of the first questions a CFO/CEO will ask when you request outsourcing dollars is, “Why can’t you do this yourself?” That’s a good question many can’t answer. Unless you are comfortable with the answer “I don’t have a clue how to recruit”(this would be bad) or “I don’t have time” (this will be ignored), my recommendation is do everything in-house long enough to a) build credibility, b) know what gets positive results, and c) to learn when it is time to get outside help.

How can your department flourish without that “100-person team”?

Think Like A Startup:  Here’s How:

–Have a relentless focus on winning. Recruiters should intentionally focus on what must happen to execute results. Daily. This is particularly important if you are a small HR generalist team. Seriously, if you don’t focus on how you will win, you are sunk. Other HR priorities will simply stymie recruiting success.

–Be Persistent; Stay Tenacious; Be Stubborn: Once you’ve focused intentionally on how you will win, it’s time to put on your big pants and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Job markets are tight, competition for talent is fierce, the hiring manager won’t make a decision, budgets are limited, and there is never enough time. The successful recruiting team will say, “ SO What? Let’s find a way even if we fail at first”. #truth

–Stay Forever Young. By this I mean, never stop learning. You have to look at the entire recruiting function with fresh eyes often. Staying educated on new technologies, best practices, market trends and the current needs of modern candidates does two things. First, it gives you the juice needed to make good decisions. Second, it is inspiring! Learning and trying new things makes work more purposeful and exciting.

So many free resources are available, there is no excuse to remain in the dark.   A few resources to check out include (and this just scratches the surface):

Take Care Of Your Customers Consistently. I hate calling other employees in my company “customers”, but for the startup analogy this makes sense. Taking care of candidates, hiring managers, and referrers is the single most important quality internal recruiters must master. Why? Human beings want to align themselves with people they trust. If you are consistent in communicating progress, building partnerships, and achieving results, the deposits in your “trust bank” go up big time.

And if you are internal, you’ve got nowhere to hide. Literally. Better be on your A-Game.

Know Your Market. Know your industry, the ideal candidates, the competition and marketable compensation better than anyone else. This is a must.

Know When To “Exit”. A startup “exit” occurs when investors, in our example the startup founders, decide to give up a stake in their company (hopefully for a big profit). What does this have to do with internal recruiting?

At some point hiring demands, usually due to substantial growth, requires the internal recruiting function to bring on other partners.   “Partners” could include investing in more robust technology to automate functions, hiring an RPO, content management company or agency to help achieve new goals. An experienced recruiter will know, based on all the lessons learned internally, when it is time to acquiesce some responsibilities to others.

So remember…

Recruiting functions are structured in all ways, shapes and sizes. Some include outsourcing partners, others don’t. No matter what strategic reason your company has for keeping recruiting “all-in-the-family”, embracing a scrappy startup mentality may be the secret sauce your team needs to stay focused, land the very best candidates and stay self-sufficient for as long as makes sense.

This post is sponsored by the recruiting pros at Jobvite, who, each month, let FOT write about a topic that will help recruiters raise their games via continuing education. Be on the lookout later this month for the new FOT video series called “No Scrubs”—also brought to you by Jobvite.com.

FOT Background Check

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke (PHR) is VP of People at DAXKO. That's right - the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of because there are only so many people (okay, just one) in the big B'ham who are worthy of that VP of People title. Dawn would be it. Former actor/singer/retail guru, her HR career has spanned the last decade. A true Generalist she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She's based in the good 'ole blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching tons of Sex in the City reruns, drinking copious amounts of coffee and wine, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…. Talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, or Twitter...

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