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The Recruiters’ Hub Conference produced plenty of A1 content. I have already written about Bill Bartee’s profit formula of LTVC + CCAGreg Savage’s compelling dissection of how social media is the engine room of Firebrand’s generation of new candidates and clients and how RPOs are changing the game for agency recruiters.

Towards the end of day two of the Conference, we heard three presentations that, although delivered separately, reinforced a core message that would be unsurprising for recruitment agency owners and employees; culture is key.

Rosemary Scott’s presentation Talent Acquisition Trends And Strategies In The Recruitment Industry In Australia In 2012 was a detailed account of the things that make a difference in hiring and keeping the best consulting staff.

Rosemary’s experience across nearly forty years in our industry makes her a leading authority on this topic.

Rosemary detailed the following top five reasons consultants will leave their employer:

  1. Culture (poor)
  2. Management/Person in authority (ineffective leader)
  3. Career opportunities (lacking)
  4. Training & Development (not provided consistently)
  5. Remuneration/Reward Structures (below market/unfair)

Following Rosemary’s presentation was recently appointed HR Director for Kelly Services (Aus) Kalena Jefferson who provided a fascinating insight into the recently improved results at Kelly.

Kalena made the following telling points:

  • The success of the company and the success of our employees are intrinsically linked
  • Tenure builds momentum and relationships
  • Staff turnover kills revenue growth
  • Don’t assume high potentials are engaged
  • Don’t confuse high performance with future potential
  • Don’t delegate management of top talent

To reduce staff turnover and improve the quality of consulting staff, Kelly introduced a comprehensive recruitment process to assess each potential consultant against:

  • Kelly values
  • Kelly identified core competencies
  • Kelly benchmark attributes for success

The assessment process for the above three areas included behavioural interviews, role plays, reference checks and psychometric profiling.

The critical difference, compared to most recruitment agency internal recruitment processes was that Kelly undertook consultant benchmarking (using their top 20 performers and their bottom 20 performers) to gain a clear understanding of the profile of the people that were successful at Kelly and behaved in a way that built and supported the desired culture.

Using verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning, the 15FQ+ (a personality profile) and a sales preference indicator, the benchmarking exercise revealed the following about each group:

Low performers

  • Extraverted (become too emotionally involved and unable to tone down)
  • Team focused (too group focussed and lacking self direction)
  • Integrated networks
  • Highly emotional (taking things too personally)
  • Highly conscientious (too much focus on detail and process and less agile and solution focussed in their approach)
  • Highly social (too much talk, not enough action)

High performers:

  • Balanced introvert/ extravert
  • High abstract reasoning
  • Mental agility
  • Separate networks
  • Outcome focused
  • Self reliant
  • Critic evaluator (assess candidates well)
  • Diplomatic and engage in team communication

The results Kelly achieved through using this evidence-based process have included the best gross profit result (in 2011) in years, improved engagement, staff turnover down to 35% and reduced rec-to-rec usage.

The final presentation was from Jen Gottlieb, HR Director at Firebrand Talent Search. Jen’s presentation was a further reinforcement of the importance of understanding your own culture, recruiting against that culture and then investing in the resources to help the consultant be as successful as possible.

My conclusions from listening to each of these presentations are as follows:

  • Benchmark the skills, behaviours and motivation that are the difference between high performance and low performance in your organisation; don’t rely on industry or general workplace norms.
  • Use these benchmarks to undertake a rigourous recruitment process  that ensures that every candidate you consider as a prospective consultant is put through the same process as every other candidate.
  • Have a clear criteria that a candidate must meet in order to be offered a job (ie don’t hire the ‘least worst’ candidate just because you have a vacant seat you ‘must’ fill).

Are your recruitment processes giving you the best chance of hiring the people most likely to succeed in your culture?

If not, what’s that costing you and what are you doing about it?

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Leigh Johnson

Thanks Ross. This is a very useful summary. I know how much difference hiring the right people makes to business profitability but I have often struggled to get it right. My husband, and co-director, wants to know why it is problematic. Maybe his analytical brain would be a good addition to the process. And then he would also share the responsibility.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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