Friday, June 14, 2013

Recruiting Great Talent Doesn’t Come From a Vending Machine

People Problems Can Become People Opportunities
I received a highly intriguing call earlier this week from an HR person representing an organization that has been searching off and on for three years to fill a very important security position. 

If I’ve already caught your attention with the first sentence, it’s because nobody should ever have to search for 3 years to find any skill set provided that their expectations around the candidate they intend to hire are realistic.

Aligning Stakeholder Expectations
While I immediately sensed a problem, I was simultaneously drawn into the conversation because I live to solve complex people problems.  In fact, what generally starts out as a people problem can frequently turn into a people opportunity once a hiring decision maker’s expectations are cleared up and all of the stakeholder decision makers who will be involved in an interview process are aligned with the same candidate expectations.

Writing a Compelling Job Description
Once decision makers agree, then a job description that is aligned with hiring expectations must be constructed.  Not just a job description that talks about what a company wants, needs and expects but a job description that also addresses what’s in it for a gainfully employed top-shelf security professional to take the risk of leaving their current employment to take on a new assignment.  Approached correctly, this move for the security professional should be a career move versus a job change.

The Dreaded Email
This morning I received an email from this prospective client asking if I could send over a few resumes for the hiring manager to review because he’s a very busy guy. 

Time Out
I’ve just returned to my desk from 3 straight weeks of travel.  I’ve worked until nearly 10 PM on Monday and Tuesday so far this week to get caught up and I’m still not caught up.  I haven’t been put in touch with the hiring manager yet but the HR person wants me to drop two quarters into my people vending machine to produce a few resumes that align with a position in her company that has not yet been discussed with me.  I don’t have a people vending machine by the way.As you know if you’ve looked for a job lately, the job descriptions that companies put out in the public domain frequently do not accurately represent what the company actually needs in a candidate they’ll actually hire.  Getting this part of the recruiting process right must happen before a recruiting call can ever be made.

When Recruiting Works Correctly
This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked to send over a few resumes before starting on a search so I knew exactly how to respond to this request.

Rather than explaining how I responded because that would expose some of my secret sauce, I’ll simply tell you that in yesterday’s phone call with the HR person who originally reached out to me, it didn’t take long for me to determine why this organization has been searching off and on for three years.

The HR person told me during our call that she was not calling on recruiters they’d worked with in the past.  In the next sentence, the HR person told me that they’d never found someone like me who is a highly specialized security recruiter

It isn’t that a generalist recruiter can’t fill security jobs.  It is however an issue of a generalist recruiter often times not knowing how to ask the right questions in the information gathering process in order to then write an accurate job description that can be placed in front of qualified people who might have something to gain if they were introduced to a new security job opportunity.

Not to mention that the generalist recruiter may not know where to go to find the highly specialized talent they need to deliver.

I can solve this organization’s current problem once I’m granted access to key stakeholder decision makers.  I’ll ask my brand of secret sauce questions to find out what the organization really needs in a candidate while simultaneously finding out what this organization has been doing wrong for 3 years as they’ve searched off and on.  I’ve already determined that the HR person is not familiar with the details of the companies need for a security professional.

I suspect that over three years they’ve hired a person or two who didn’t work out.  All of this kind of information needs to hit the table before I can consider taking on a search.  Why?  Because in addition to being tasked with the challenge of identifying and finding the right talent, I have to sell opportunity to gainfully employed top-shelf security professionals who are more often than not gainfully employed when I call on them.

I need to know the history of an open position. I need to know that the stakeholder decision makers who are involved in the interview process are all expecting the same experience, characteristics and traits in the candidate’s they’ll interview.  I need to know what’s in it for a candidate to consider the job.  A process needs to be put in place to drive the recruiting process, etc.

And many people think that recruiting is as simple as posting a job, catching all the great talent that responds to the posting and calling it a day.  Great talent doesn't come from a vending machine.'s Security Recruiter Blog