Building Talent Pipelines and Just-In-Time Recruiting – Part 4

Posted by | September 16, 2013 | Lean/JIT Recruiting, Talent Pipelines | 5 Comments

 

Lean, Just-in-Time RecruitingWelcome to the 4th and final post of the “Building Talent Pipelines and Just-In-Time Recruiting” series. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read parts 12, and 3 before reading this post.

In Ben Franklin’s the Way to Wealth, he talks about the issues associated with carrying unnecessary inventory, “You call them goods; but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you…You expect they will be sold…but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you.”

If Ben were alive today and in the recruiting industry, he’d tell you that building, maintaining, and managing the turnover associated with in-process candidate inventory (traditional candidate pipelines) consumes a great amount of time and effort which ultimately may provide little-to-no value to candidate or client alike, at great cost to you.

So how can recruiters go about creating more value for their candidates and hiring managers with less work?

Just-In-Time Recruiting

Just-In-Time recruiting is based on the Lean, pull-based strategy of providing hiring managers/clients with candidates that exactly match their needs, when they want them, in the amount they want, without the safety net of a traditional candidate pipeline/WIP inventory.

Instead of proactively building and maintaining work-in-process (WIP) candidate pipelines without an actual hiring need, JIT recruiting has a primary focus of tapping into “raw material” candidate inventory (resumes, candidate profiles, etc.) and contacting, qualifying, and delivering candidates only in direct response to a hiring need.

JIT recruiting is replicable – anyone and any organization can achieve it.

How?

I’m glad you asked.

How to Achieve Just-In-Time Recruiting

Anyone can find and develop candidate pipelines, but not everyone can achieve JIT recruiting and delivery.

This is because there are a few system and recruiter capability requirements that must be met before Just-In-Time recruiting and delivery can be reliably accomplished.

JIT Recruiting Requires Access to Human Capital Data

In Part 2 of this series, I introduced the concept of resumes and/or candidate profiles (ATS, social networking sites, etc.) as potential candidate “raw material” in the sense that they can be converted by processing (contacting and screening) into a new and useful product: a live and viable candidate.

In order to achieve JIT recruiting, a recruiter must have ready access to a volume of human capital data in the form of resumes, candidate records, or social network profiles that they are able to retrieve on-demand.

Any recruiter or organization hoping to achieve JIT recruiting should have their own well-stocked candidate database in the form of an ATS/CRM solution into which every candidate that responds to a job posting, that is found through a search, referred into or otherwise identified by a recruiter is permanently captured.

In an ideal scenario, a recruiter would have access to a Talent Warehouse. A Talent Warehouse is a specialized use of a CRM solution that is both manually and automatically populated on a daily basis with potential candidates that have been identified, parsed, and permanently captured from the Internet, social networks, and major/niche job board resume databases.

In addition to having access to a well stocked private Talent Warehouse (or at the very least, an ATS/CRM app), having access to 1 or more major and niche job board resume databases would further enhance Just-In-Time recruiting capability.

It should go without saying, but I am also factoring in access to LinkedIn and the Internet itself as significant sources of human capital data (raw material candidate inventory).

The Power of Numbers

When it comes to raw material candidate inventory – the more the better!

For some individuals and small local companies, 5,000 to 10,000 resumes/profiles may suffice. For larger, national, and global corporations, hundreds of thousands to several million records would be more ideal.

Having fast and easy on-demand access to more human capital data increases the probability that you can easily find the right candidates at the right time, either directly (search and retrieval) or indirectly (referral/network recruiting).

It’s simple statistics.

X Degrees of Separation

Speaking of numbers and statistics – one thing to keep in mind is that if you have access to a source of 10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000+ people, the value of having that access is not limited to solely those individuals. Every single one of those individuals knows other people, who also know people, and so on.

In that sense, every source of human capital data, whether it is an ATS, a job board resume database, etc., is not unlike LinkedIn, except you can’t “see” the people who they know. But they do know them.

So for people who say that using technology for talent identification (resume databases, applicant tracking systems, etc.) has its limitations because not every person can be found electronically/online somewhere – they don’t have to be.

Although I would argue that with each passing day, more and more people ARE able to be found electronically somewhere – a trend that will never decrease – the simple fact of the matter is that any source of human capital data can be used to access a MUCH larger network of people who may or may not be online anywhere today.

With strong referral recruiting/phone networking skills, a recruiter can use a database of 10,000 candidates to essentially reach 300,000 or more people, or an ATS with 1,000,000 people to reach over 30,000,000 people – whether they can be found anywhere online or not.

How’s that for power?

JIT Recruiting Benefits from High “Searchability”

The more “searchable” a source of human capital data, the easier it is to reliably achieve Just-In-Time recruiting and delivery.

The minimum level of searchability to facilitate JIT recruiting would entail support of full Boolean logic queries of at least 400 characters.

An ideal level of searchability would go beyond basic Boolean and include manual proximity search, variable term weighting, and root word/stemming coupled with an AI/matching/recommendation engine. ATS/CRM solutions should also feature automated resume/profile parsing and field-specific (most recent title/experience, etc.) and derived data (years of experience, etc.) searching.

Thankfully, LinkedIn is highly searchable, although annoyingly, it does not support stemming/root word search. Most major job board resume databases are also highly searchable, including field-specific search, fixed proximity (Monster’s NEAR), and matching/recommendation capability (Careerbuilder’s R2 and Monster’s Power Resume Search).

High searchability facilitates a sourcer/recruiter’s ability to quickly (as in <1 – 5 minutes in most cases) and easily find people who have the highest probability of either being a great match for a specific position, or are highly likely to know someone who is, and contact and engage them. In other words – convert resumes/candidate profiles in their raw material form to screened, qualified, and engaged candidates.

JIT Recruiting Requires Effective Engagement and Referral Tactics and Strategies

A critical link in the process of Just-In-Time recruiting is the conversion of candidates from their raw material form into in-process candidates. This involves successfully contacting and engaging potential candidates in 2-way communication. Having quick and easy access to a large talent pool is great, but if you’re not very good at establishing 2 way communication with candidates you haven’t already established a relationship with, you’re going to have a very hard time achieving Just-In-Time recruiting.

By very good, I mean >75% response rate to initial email and phone contact attempts to candidates, regardless of their job search status (active, casual, passive, not looking).

Remember that when tapping into large pools of human capital data, we’re not targeting people based on their job search status – the goal is to find, contact, and engage anyone who is potentially well-qualified. Practically anyone can get an active or even casual job seeker to call them back or return their email. However, very few people are able to reliably get >75% of people who are not looking at all to respond to an email or phone call.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 32% of all people are “passively looking” and that 34% are “not looking.” That’s fully 66% of the potential candidate pool – and the portion of talent that most recruiters and employers covet the most! If you can’t successfully connect with and quickly gain the interest of these people, you’re at a significant disadvantage in achieving Just-In-Time recruiting (or any form of passive candidate recruiting, for that matter).

I honestly believe this may be one of the core reasons why traditional proactive candidate pipelining is used as a solution to meet hiring needs. If you can’t get the majority of passive and non-job seekers who you’ve never contacted before to respond to you – your only option is to make the most of the people who you HAVE already contacted (your WIP inventory). However, being able to get practically anyone to respond to emails/call you back changes the game entirely, as you are no longer limited to the candidate inventory you happen to have on hand (your pipeline).

I know I’m onto something here – more on it later.

Just-In-Time Recruiting Requires Search Ability

Having access to a decent volume of high quality human capital “raw material” via systems that are highly searchable is quite literally worthless without the ability to actually leverage the data and the search capability. The value of information is directly related to the ability to retrieve precisely the right information, exactly when you need it.

To achieve Just-In-Time recruiting, sourcers and recruiters don’t have to be “Boolean Black Belts,” but they must be proficient in candidate search best practices, techniques, and strategies. In order to retrieve information from information systems, it’s critical to speak the “local language” – and there’s no getting around Boolean logic for querying data. Artificial Intelligence/Semantic Search applications and recommendation engines are great to have and can certainly help, but they are not a solution in and of themselves - they are not “the answer.”

Pipelining – Proactive vs. Reactive

Contrary to what some people may believe, Just-In-Time recruiting does leverage candidate pipelines – just not in the traditional way.

First, Just-In-Time recruiting involves the pipelining of raw material candidate inventory, in the form of resumes/candidate profiles. Recruiters and recruiting organizations should be both proactively and reactively, manually and automatically building a database of potential talent on a continual basis, 24 X 7.

Unlike traditional candidate pipelining, when these resumes are identified, acquired and permanently captured, the people that the resumes and social media profiles represent do not have to be contacted without an actual hiring need.

Second, Just-In-Time recruiting creates candidate pipelines as a result of sourcing and contacting potential candidates for a specific need. Any candidate that is not available, interested, or immediately qualified for the specific position being recruited for essentially becomes part of a work-in-process (WIP) candidate pipeline.

This can be referred to as “reactive pipelining,” and opposed to the “proactive pipelining” which involves contacting and engaging candidates without an actual hiring need.

Yes, I said the dreaded “reactive” word. I am well aware that many in the recruiting industry think “reactive” is a four-letter word. However, I am here to tell you that it most certainly is NOT. It’s an 8 letter word.

Seriously though, it is a common misconception that proactive = good, reactive = bad. In reality, Lean/TPS best practices dictate that an ideal state of production is one in which a product is produced or a service performed directly in response to a customer need (pull).

Ultimately, building candidate pipelines as a result of JIT recruiting efforts is actually a mix of both reactive and proactive strategy. It’s reactive in that people are contacted for a specific hiring need, and proactive in that anyone not interested, available, or the right fit for the position being recruited for enters the candidate pipeline for future opportunities.

There, that should make everyone happy. :-)

Just-In-Time Recruiting is Not Anti-Relationship

I received a few comments throughout this series from people who seemed concerned that Just-In-Time recruiting was anti-relationship – that it might somehow endorse “forgetting” about great candidates you’ve spoken or met with.

Nothing could be further from the truth. No aspect of the Just-In-Time recruiting concept and strategy has anything to do with not building and maintaining relationships with great people. I just wanted to take a moment to clear that up.

Just-In-Time Recruiting Requires Less Candidate “Processing”

While JIT recruiting supports building and maintaining relationships with candidates, it does not endorse doing so for no other purpose.

Remember that Just-In-Time is a Lean concept, and Lean is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful. I asked readers in Part 3 what they felt was the ultimate value they provide to candidates. Jeremy Langhans responded with what I believe is the most accurate answer, which is “a job.”

Many recruiters who proactively build and maintain relationships with candidates for which they do not have a current need never provide any real value to the candidates. These recruiters proactively pipeline the candidates for their own personal benefit – to be able to have people they can quickly “activate,” requalify, and submit when a position finally does open up. However, what real value is being provided to candidates who never move past the “relationship maintenance” phase in the recruiting lifecycle?

You only need to look at a few of the insightful comments left on previous posts in this series by people who have recently been on the candidate side of the experience to know that being kept warm doesn’t really do much for them.

In a JIT recruiting scenario, candidates are not contacted prior to actual need – their time is not potentially wasted in a perpetual state of being “kept warm.” If a candidate is contacted for a specific opportunity and it is determined that it is not a proper fit, or that they are not interested or available, they do enter the candidate pipeline for future opportunities and become work-in-process candidate inventory.

However, in Just-In-Time recruiting, the level of “processing” (relationship maintenance) involved in being a pipelined candidate is typically lower than that of candidates who are proactively pipelined ahead of need. In Lean terminology, this means that JIT recruiting reduces waste (overprocessing) and increases value for the candidates involved.

Here’s a quick story to illustrate this point: I was recruiting for a project manager with telecommunications industry and EAI experience and I found someone with a very strong resume – which was posted 6 months prior to the time I found it. I called him, left him a good message, and he called me back. He explained that he was not looking or available because he was working on a contract that was scheduled to end in 6 months. In about 10 minutes, I found out more about him and informed him of the kinds of positions I recruited for and typically had available. Then I asked if I could reach out to him in about 5 months. He said sure, so I set a reminder to call him in 5 months. I literally forgot about him until my reminder popped up 5 months later. I contacted him, qualified him some more, and submitted him to one of my clients. 2 phone calls, 1 submittal, 1 interview, 1 hire.

My point here is that I did not keep this person “warm” by chatting with him every 2-4 weeks during the 5 month period, and in no way to it prevent me from having a client hire a fantastic candidate who was extremely pleased with the opportunity. Minimal processing, maximum value for all involved – Lean/JIT recruiting at its purest form. I could have called this candidate every 30 days, but it would not have added any additional value to him or to my client.

Final Thoughts

In an effort to continually improve processes is critical to identify the assumptions and beliefs behind the current work process (i.e. “the way it’s always been done”) and to challenging them – significant breakthroughs can be achieved when you are able to identify untapped opportunities through challenging and assumptions and traditional beliefs.

Do you really think the way that the majority of people and organizations currently execute sourcing and recruiting is absolutely perfect, offering no room for improvement?

I’m trying to move the ball forward. I am not content to with the way things have always been done. I do not blindly accept what others tell me, and neither should you. There’s always a better way – what are you doing to find it?

I think that most people are trained on or learn about the concept of traditional candidate pipelining early in their careers, and I may be one of the few who was not. This seems to have given me somewhat of a unique perspective on the subject. In other words, no one ever told me the world was flat – that the most effective way to recruit has to involve traditional candidate pipelining.

It’s important to understand that I did not just sit around and think these ideas up, trying to adapt Lean and Just-In-Time production to recruiting. On the contrary, practically everything I write about comes directly from experiences I had during my first years in the recruiting industry, in the trenches, working a recruiting desk in a highly competitive staffing agency, 10 years before I even heard of the concept of Just-In-Time, let alone the Lean concepts of Value, Waste, Pull, and Perfect First-Time Quality.

What I learned largely through my own trial and error in the process of trying to not only keep my new job but also become the top performer for the company ended up being uncannily aligned with core Lean philosophy – creating more value for my candidates and clients with less work, and giving them exactly what they want, when they want it.

The expression “learning to see” comes from an ever developing ability to see waste where it was not perceived before. I’d like you to try and work in a Lean approach to everything that you do – to view the expenditure of time and effort for any goal other than the creation of value for your candidates and clients/hiring managers as wasteful.

I am not asking you to become a Lean/JIT recruiting convert – I’m just asking you to think, and to examine your recruiting processes and practices with a critical eye for waste, such as unnecessary WIP candidate inventory, over-processing, excessive waiting, overproduction, and defects.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading!

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • thelittlegiant

    I really enjoy your blog and the 4 part series on JIT and pipelines. I used to live (and dream) on vast pipelines of candidates… but today JIT is for me… because it works. Might I suggest Part 5! using Kanban to implement JIT?

  • Pingback: Building Talent Pipelines and Just-In-Time Recruiting - Part 4 « BIZCATALYST360°

  • John M. Bemis

    Glen, I have enjoyed BBB for years, thanks!
    Here’s a challenge: I need to find an IT infrastructure director for an educational company that designs, opens and operates specialty schools. Client would like prior school/education domain/”industry” experience. Any thoughts on how to search for this without pulling up everyone (which is just about everyone!) who has “Education” or “School” or “University” on their resume?
    Thanks for any thoughts,
    Best,
    John

  • Rob McIntosh

    Glen – As always a very interesting read as I am sitting a my sons all day lacrosse tournament and was actually waiting to read a 4 part before responding. excuse the grammar as I am typing from a surface pro vs desktop, so I might not be on point as much.

    Ok…..Here we go :-)

    All your concepts are sound so no gripe from me. I will though give some additional perspectives that I was actually going to think about writing a white paper about, but here is just as good a place to get the dialog going as you suggest.

    I have been doing this a long time so hopefully my POV on this has some credibility of weight given experience of knowing just as much about what does not work vs what I believe does.

    In short, this issue at its core is about Quality First, Speed Second and here is the traditional elephant in the room “Scalability”…….Let me elaborate.

    Pipelining, WIP, Proactive, Reactive, Passive or Active at then end of the day all comes down to a quality product (Just like Six Sigma)…The question is what is the quickest and most cost effective path to quality at scale……..Let me repeat this for everyone reading,….What is the Most Cost Effective path to Quality AT Scale.

    Here is where I think it gets interesting. The future of recruiting as we all know if more and more people will have a digital footprint online. This means it will be easier to find people quickly (JIT)…..But, I would argue that we a still a fair way off where the capital analytics that we need to drive from online profiles (Resumes, LinkedIn, etc) is still a fair way off that can predict what is high quality talent.

    Let me go deeper here as I am coming full circle with my point on this :-)………….High Quality Talent implies that you know that the person you are going to hire is going to ramp quickly, be better than your avg performer and most importantly add significant value to the business (help lower OE or help increase profitably). But here is the reality. You do not really know that person you found (online, networking, even referrals) is a high quality talent until you speak with them and see how they match up to the company, team and boss fit, demonstrate the necessary competencies and behaviors. And this is where Building a Proactive Quality Pipeline makes sense in combo with JIT Quality recruiting,

    Let m give you a real world example of what this means and even the results it produces.

    So if we first define what Quality is (this will be different by company and workgroups within the company) then you have your starting point which is key because like any quality result (output) it must start with quality input. So here is what I have designed and built as quality markers that = what can only go in a Proactive Quality Pipeline.

    1) High performing Alumni – If they left on good terms, stay in touch

    2) Offer Declines – If they turned us down, then they are only potentially going to get better, stay in touch

    3) Silver medalists – If they got beaten out by a gold medalist, they still could have been a gold medalist on a similar job as we all know you can only hire 1 person into 1 job…keep in touch

    4) QI Candidates – I am all sure you are familiar with the phrase QIA. In this case you know they are Qualified (Q) against your high quality criteria, they are interested (I), the only issue is their availability (A). finishing up on a project, waiting for a bonus, etc….keep in touch

    5) Fit but not quite ready – they match the Quality criteria for your company but they just need a little more experience for the profiles (pipelines) in your workgroups/workforces…..Keep in touch.

    6) I can add more, but they are my secret sauce :-)

    So I also said I will prove this. Without naming specifically my current employer or previous I will state the output of this philosophy and Proactive Quality Pipelining approach.

    50% of hires came from relationships with candidates that had been identified more than 6months prior to the hire while at the same time cost per hire went down along with time to fill. In some instances hires happened 18months prior. I will also state that these hires were not just dumb luck on timing and happenstance, but a clear correlation to keeping them warm and keeping in touch.

    So the big difference for me and what I have learned over the years is that unless you have defined “Quality” in your Pipeline and you have clearly spec’d up “what a Quality Pipeline actually is”, then yes, Pipelining for the same of sticking names in a database is just stupid busy work that every once in a while a blind purple squirrel can find a nut :-)

    What I have not gone into a depth here is the question of doing Quality at Scale as that would be a response twice as long as this one but I will leave you all with this thought…..

    IMHO the future of recruiting will not be about finding people quickly as I believe we are clearly already seeing the rapid advancements in this area already. The companies that will win will have cracked the code on these simple to say but had to scale things:

    1) He/She who has the relationships with the Quality talent

    2) He/She who worked out how you get talent to keep in touch with you vs you having to keep in touch with them (Example: The passive candidate who happens to have with a fight with their boss and was previously not looking, automatically thinks of you (your company) and comes to you.)

    3) He/She who embraces the importance of the ‘Purple Cow’ theory. Be different, be memorable and be relevant

    I had fun writing it, I hope you had fun reading it.

    Now back to Lacrosse !

  • Ahmed Jamali

    Read 1,2,3 and 4th post with interest . Although, Am not a big fan of building traditional talent pipelines and invest time and resources in the “relationship” maintaince mode. I fully support the “Just in-time” recruiting as well. However, There is always a great way to create a blend of both mechanisms and stil get the business running. Apply few great techniques to keep the ” Talent Warehouse ” active and alert by sending them job alerts via Email Marketing ; So any activity that is worth to note would ultimately react back for your notice from the candidate point of view.

    The rest is to follow the “Just In-time Mechanism” where it is always great to have the ” Talent Warehouse” know that there is a recruiter out thier sending email messages on frequent basis, so you don’t need to build that “Introduction energetic pitch” again.

    The other dimention that recruiters usually create to sell the efforts and time invested in keeping the “talent warehouse ” warm is to offer clients the oppurtunities to network with tomorrow’s talent – today. That is also great value of pro-active hiring managers involved in succession planning.

    I would say , It’s important to clarify the purpose of building up a “Talent Pipeline” .

    Is it only Recruitment for the immediate opening ? or talking and keep selling the Client’s value to potential tomorrow’s talent , until the candidate is fully sold at the time of purchase (Immediate opening) with the inherited risk of Work-In-Process investment.

    Best Regards,

    Ahmed