The 90 minute snooze
The 90 minute snooze – Why recruiter events fail and how they can be improved. – By Michael HubertsMorunda representatives recently attended a recruiter event held in the nice new offices of a leading Global Pharma company. The company had a range of mid – senior level roles open and no doubt HR was receiving pressure from Line to get these positions filled.
Sitting around the table were representatives from about 10 other recruiting firms (roughly an even split between Japanese and foreign) along with several company HR reps and Line Managers who were there to discuss their open positions.
After some pleasantries were exchanged, the recruitment presentation began and, for the next 90 minutes, I struggled to stay awake and, after discussing with my peers from other firms, I wasn’t the only one. It was so boring, so unmemorable, so like every other recruitment event I’ve been to that, apart from getting the chance to exchange name cards with company representatives, I can’t really say why I attended.
The sad reality is that this was not a one-off occurrence, in fact there is probably a similar event held within the Pharma Industry every other week. Most recruiters who have been in this business for longer than 2 years will now most likely have a file full of generic company brochures and be able to tell you which companies provide food and drinks at the event and which companies provide nothing. This tired format has persisted for years and I’m yet to see an occasion where this has yielded positive results.
If you choose to hold one of these large recruiting events (and “if” is probably the key word in this situation – most recruiters would argue these conferences hold little value) than surely it could be done better. Here are some suggestions that may make the event more worthwhile;
- Only invite the recruiters that you value and who show they want to work with you. This seems simple enough but holding large recruiter events, with firms that barely communicate with you on a day to day basis, discourages the recruiters who are genuinely keen on partnering with you (you’re basically telling them they are just another vender). Furthermore, a recruiter that isn’t invested in your company story will not effectively represent your company brand to the elite candidates in the market.
- Provide the JD’s to recruiters ahead of time along with the key parameters (salary, age, therapy area) and use your time to have a real discussion about the position. Instead of giving a lecture, ask your recruiters “what is the market like, what kind of person could do this, what are the challenges etc.” and you’ll get a much more productive meeting. Some recruiters may not be able to provide answers to your questions or are fearful of giving information that might give away a competitive advantage – those people are clearly not the right people to work with or represent your business.
- Make all recruiters speak. Most of these events invariably reach a point where 2 – 3 recruiters are talking too much (I confess I might be one of these people) and the rest don’t speak at all. If this sounds familiar – you’re missing an opportunity to take leadership of the discussion. Don’t be afraid to shush the talkers and ask the quiet recruiters their opinion (it might be something you haven’t considered). In a board room setting, all participants (either employees or advisory) are required to speak and the expectation is that they should add real value to the discussion. Why should your recruiter events be any different?
- Create incentives to work on harder positions. Recruiters will naturally gravitate to positions they see as easier to fill – whilst neglecting the equally important positions that are less attractive. Find ways to incentivize the harder searchers (if not retained – higher fees or more flexible work requirements) that ensure you’re able to fill a range of roles.
- Split the roles by recruiter expertise. If there are 5 recruiters in the room, and you need 5 positions filled, and 1 of these positions is a Director level role and the others are for Managers, which position do you think the recruiters will focus on? Is this an efficient use of time?
- Provide the real story behind the positions. Why is the role open and how does it fit into the organization. What will the candidate have accomplished in their first year? Who is the line manager and what type of profile does he / she value? These behind the scene’s details help recruiters create a compelling story when they speak to candidates.
- Think about the unique selling points that you want your recruiters to convey to the market. These people are your arms and fingers into the candidate world and if your USP’s are bland or generic (or even worse – you can’t think of any) you’re sending a terrible message to the market. By reinforcing your recruitment USP’s to the recruiters you value and want to partner with, you control your brand and reduce the risk of mixed signals reaching candidates.
My theory is that these recruiting events added value 10 years ago and the process became something you “had to do”. At the time pharmaceutical contingency recruitment was in its infancy and the bulk of recruiters viewed recruiting as simply a temporary job (between careers). As such, expectations on recruiters was pretty modest. Times have changed and there are now serious recruiters who have built careers out of knowing the market and providing real value add to their clients. By increasing your expectations for performance with the right recruiters, you’ll get better results.
If you’d like to discuss / plan any further events, please don’t hesitate to make contact with Morunda.
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