Despite nagging high unemployment nationwide and spending more money than ever on internal recruiting capabilities, executives still lament over how difficult it is to quickly fill mission-critical roles within their organizations. In the era of a gazillion online job boards, social media, slick applicant tracking systems, employment branding, video interviews, etc. combined with high unemployment, we might wonder how in the world this could possibly still be a problem. The answer could be closer than we think, but we have to make sure we are asking the right question.

What’s our recruiting problem?

For any recruiting opportunity, there are two normal problems that cover the majority of circumstances.

Problem #1
Our organization has a position to fill. We open the door and there is a line a mile long with both qualified and unqualified potential candidates in the crowd. Briefcases in hand, nervously adjusting ties and checking makeup in pocket mirrors, this crowd wants this job and will do just about anything to compete for it. The problem to be solved is figuring out how to get to the right candidates quickly without being crushed by the volume. But someone in this group can definitely do the job. And we have the power and control.

Problem #2
Our organization has a position to fill. We open the door and there’s tumbleweed rolling by and a brief glance skyward reveals circling… vultures? They are coming for us. No one knows about the job. No one is interested. All of our candidates are already in the aforementioned line outside someone else’s door. Or the people we really want already have great jobs in great organizations. Despite all our tweeting, posting, and praying, the right people just aren’t lining up. Our feeble “hello?” echoes hollowly off the walls and disappears into nothing. We are alone. In this case, the problem to be solved is figuring out how to attract the right candidates quickly despite the deafening silence. The candidate market now has the power and control.

The real issue with these problems is that most of the time we don’t pause to identify what our  real recruiting problem is for our organization, department, group, or specific position in the first place. We employ a one-size-fits-all recruiting strategy that is ultimately driven by one primary goal – cost reduction. This overriding philosophy sometimes causes us to look for the cheapest, not necessarily the best, solutions. Different recruiting problems require different strategies, resources, and people with vastly different skills. And our one-size-fits-all approach is often designed to address Problem #1 even if Problem #2 is our real issue.

Unless we are Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Zappos, Netflix, Apple, or hundreds of other large organizations with strong commercial and employment brands (i.e., most of us), we likely don’t deal with Problem #1 as much as we would like. Most small to mid-size firms (and even some large ones) usually encounter Problem #2, particularly with difficult technical or executive leadership positions. Which problem we have is fairly easy to figure out and shouldn’t be a surprise or something we realize in the the middle of a failing search effort. We just need to be honest with ourselves.

Knowing our recruiting problem and quickly leveraging the right strategies is critical to the success of the internal recruiting function and ultimately the entire organization. Now think about the positions you are trying to fill.

What’s your recruiting problem? Are you using the right strategy? Do you have the right resources?

If not, why not?



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