A Recruiting Tip from Al Franken and National Geographic

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Last month, to celebrate Geography Awareness Week (November 15 – November 21), National Geographic asked Senators to draw their home state.

Al frankenOnly 11 out of 100 senators took part. And to the right is Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s attempt. I appreciate the efforts of the 11, and I am really disappointment that more lawmakers didn’t participate. You would think that most senators would jump at the chance for some non-controversial publicity.

However, equal to my dismay as to the lack of senatorial participation in the National Georgaphic “contest”, is the number of companies I visit annually who have never taken the time to “draw” (map) their own employment process. In my Recruitment Process Outsourcing sales role, I call on hundreds of companies annually. I would estimate less than ½ have some sort of documented employment process. Of these organizations , ½ have something that resembles a brief Statement of Work (SOW) or documentation that is no more than a one page record. That leaves about 25% (a better % than our senatorial participation but still woeful) that I would judge as having a detailed process map ready to undergo analysis and scrutiny.

I know this is not as cool as developing a social recruiting plan or installing a talent relationship management technology; however, I truly believe there is a lot to be learned and corrected by taking a piece of paper and documenting step-by-step the hiring flow. This is valuable knowledge that shouldn’t just get filed in a notebook or buried in some folder in a shared drive.

At Pinstripe, we use the “swim lane” method. Every major participant (i.e. Hiring Manager, Recruiter, Human Resources, Candidate, Technology, and Other Critical Stakeholders) is given a lane and every major process step (i.e. Requisition, Sourcing, Interviewing/Selection, Offer, Post-Offer Checking, and On-boarding) gets a dedicated page.

By destructing the employment process into small components/tasks and attributing each action to a stakeholder, gaps and bottlenecks become easily identified (as is all the good stuff, too).

If you are stuck and unsure of where to begin (and most people are), then try this simple exercise. 

  • Take 5 or 6 pages of copy paper and draw 5 swim lanes horizontally across the page and attribute each lane to a process stakeholder (see below) 


  • Find a co-worker and ask the question: “ How does an approved requisition happen?” 
  • As each new step is identified, always stop and ask: “And who is responsible for that?” 
  • And every time your partner pauses, jump in with the following: “What happens next?” 
  • Write everything down on the swim lane sheets

In very short order, you will have pages and pages filled with every step of your hiring process documented in detail. Also, if you are like most people then, at about the 10 minute mark of the workout, you will exclaim something like “Really, we do that!” or “Wouldn’t it be easier if….”

After completing the process map, and if you have any energy left, go back over your pages and document places where you see opportuntiies for improvement. Or share the work with others (including your network outside of your orgainization) and ask for their input. I guarantee at least 1 enhancement will follow in short order.

So, if you find yourself in the same category as those 89 senators who didn’t participate in the contest, you can easily remedy that by going through the process map exercise. Whether you agree with Al Franken or not when it comes to politics, you can take a cue from him by taking the initiative to participate in the exercise.

Editor's Note – Barry Diamond is the VP of business development with Pinstripe, an RPO firm headquartered in Wisconsin. He's the only guy we know who is able to make the connection between Hebrew National Hot Dogs and the RPO biz which of course comes naturally to him since he’s been in the recruitment industry for 12 years and knows it inside and out from helping orgs to rejigger their onboarding processes to improving their employment brands. And despite having a name that sounds like he’s an off-the-strip Vegas lounge act, Barry is also a father of three, coaches 5th grade basketball and middle school track, and is still an avid Red Sox fan despite celebrating his 21st year living in Wisconsin.