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I think anyone who’s gone through the corporate recruiting process has got their own take on whether the system is broken. In my experience, only a small fraction of companies have a process that fits my view of what recruiting should be. Today, I want to give you my take on what good recruiting is, and provide some examples of well-known companies that follow these best practices. In order to have a complete discussion of the recruiting process I will focus the talking points around three key areas: identifying the needs of the organization, reaching the right candidates, and winning the right candidates.
Identifying the Needs of the Organization
This one really boils down to your organization’s philosophy when it comes to its people. Some companies make it a point to have superior talent at every level of the organization, while other companies choose to compete on different factors. These other factors can be things like price, distribution, and technology. For some industries, it just doesn’t make sense to make talented employees a huge part of their fixed cost.
Another related considertaion is what type of experience you are looking for. Some companies prefer to hire people who already have some exposure to their field, while others like to hire the people with the highest potential and train them. I am of the belief that the latter approach is the better one.
Reaching the Right Candidates
For those companies that do choose to compete based on having better people, I think it is important to understand why talented people would want to join your organization. For most people, a fulfilling job needs to have two components: interesting work, and earning power (whether present or future). “Interesting work” is very subjective, but “earning power” can be quantified fairly easily. Present earning power relates to how much money you are making, while future earning power relates to career trajectory at the company or exit opportunities. If you want to reach highly talented people I believe you need to appeal to their self-interests. Below are three companies that appeal to the different components.
Planetary Resources (www.planetaryresources.com) is a company that appeals to the “interesting work” portion of the equation. This company, backed by investors from Google and Microsoft among others, aims to mine resources from asteroids. Their formidable team consists of former NASA engineers, astronauts, and professors from MIT. How cool is this? I bet many of us would be willing to take a little pay cut to work on the cutting edge with this company.
Two companies that make it a point to have superior talent at every level of the organization are McKinsey & Company (www.mckinsey.com) and Goldman Sachs (www.goldmansachs.com). McKinsey & Company is one of the top management consulting firms in the world, and Goldman Sachs is a major investment bank. The work they do is very interesting (to me at least), and they also appeal to the “earning power” portion of the equation. They appeal to candidates by branding their company as prestigious, handing out big pay packages, and exposing their employees to tremendous amounts of high-caliber experience. The high-caliber experience often translates into superb exit opportunities for the employees that leave the company. Last time I checked, McKinsey is the single biggest producer of Fortune 500 CEO’s.
Winning the Right Candidates
So why would a high-flying candidate join your company over others? If the work content, pay package, and exit opportunities are similar, then I think it comes down to the recruiting experience. For me, the experience is pleasant when:
- The online application is easy to submit
- The application is reviewed in a timely manner
- The employer takes the initiative to communicate with you when they’ve made a decision
- Senior people are involved in the recruiting process
- The company is lenient about covering the costs of your interview
The experience is even better when companies do the following (I’ve personally experience these):
- Send a car and driver to pick you up and drive you to the interview
- Provide you with a non-evaluative interview buddy for you to ask questions
- Talk over lunch and/or dinner as part of the interview process
- Provide detailed feedback in the event you were not selected
- Provide you with the names of the interviewers beforehand
Again, different people have different expectations when it comes to recruiting. There is no single process that is the best. You just need to make sure that your process is aligned with the goals of your organization.