As a Human Resources Professional, I always believed that recruiting was the most exciting and enjoyable part of my job. In particular I found career fairs to be extremely invigorating (and exhausting).
Recruiting is where the rubber meets the road as an old tire advertisement used to say. Recruiting is essentially marketing and it is important to approach the process with that in mind. The process in its simplest terms involves representatives from the agency doing the recruiting and inviting people to join them as part of the work force to do the kind of work needed by the agency they themselves work for. That being the case, recruiters should be excited about what they do, who they do it for and the prospect of being involved in selecting who they get to do it with.
Successful recruiting, like all other areas of HR work, needs prior planning to be successful. While all types of recruiting share many things in common, there are differences in approaches across the spectrum of jobs available within public service. Public Safety recruiting, in particular, generally involves large numbers of candidates since selection processes typically include several successive hurdles that have the tendency to narrow the applicant pool.
The goal of good recruiting should be to reduce the numbers lost at each point in the selection process.
That being the case it is not uncommon for recruiters involved in recruiting for public safety positions to succumb to the notion that they need to cast a huge net to pull in the numbers needed to fill the anticipated vacancies. While this is true to some extent, there are things that can be done to make the recruiting process more efficient and less costly. I believe that the goal of good recruiting should be to reduce the numbers lost at each point in the selection process which ultimately reduces the number needed to start the process and increases the number of qualified candidates on the eligibility list.
While conducting research in preparation for writing the recruiting plan for the State of Nevada I read some insightful articles on recruiting. While many of them were focused on recruiting in the private sector with an emphasis on what has often been termed “head hunting,” I discovered that there are good lessons public sector recruiters can take away from the head hunters play book if you will.
In particular, I believe that public sector recruitments need to be aware of two different models involved in recruiting. The first and the most common used in the public sector is the “They Find You,” method of recruiting and the second, which is most commonly used in the head hunter arena, is “You Find Them.”
The first model fits with the concept noted previously in that it involves casting a wide net. In this model recruiting efforts and advertising are designed to help viable candidates find you. The “word” is put out in places and by methods that alert potential candidates that your agency is recruiting for police officers or fire fighters or whatever public safety related positions you have available. While there are methods of conducting this type of recruiting that can increase its effectiveness, which will be discussed later, there is a lot of hope involved. That is, recruiters are hoping they will attract qualified candidates in large enough numbers to fill the current vacancies.
In contrast, the “You Find Them,” approach relies on more hands on work identifying and targeting specific individuals that you would like to have apply to your agency. Once individuals have been targeted, recruiters go to work making personal contact with these people encouraging them to participate in the selection process.
It can be seen immediately that this approach is labor intensive and has issues related to the appearance of favoritism. Additionally, private sector often has more latitude in how recruiters conduct themselves in the recruitments they conduct. In particular the “You Find Them,” approach is often used for critical and hard to fill positions and routinely includes approaching individuals that are currently employed in the targeted field. In that regard, recruiters are often involved in making personal contact with individuals that would be willing to change employers under the right conditions. The right conditions often include working environment, location, salary, benefits and perks which recruiters can use to entice candidates to leave their current position and take one with the organization for which they are recruiting. Still, including the mind set associated with this type of recruiting can be used to improve the common, “They Find You,” approach to recruiting.
Now that we have taken a brief look at what recruiting is and discussed the general idea of the two different major models of recruiting, we will be able to take a more detailed and specific look at the recruiting process. The next article will look at building a recruiting program from the ground up. Subsequent articles will include designing the job bulletin and the job announcement as well as things that can be included in recruiting programs to enhance their success.