Category Archives: recruiting

A Savvy Recruiter (Part 2 of 2)

Fotolia © RonenThis is a follow to the last post providing suggestions of how one can become a savvy recruiter.

More often than not, the recruiter supporting a business unit is junior to the hiring manager. The recruiter is unlikely to have the industry training and experience relative to the hiring division. Perhaps the recruiter may feel nervous in approaching the hiring   manager due to gap in seniority level and even more inadequate because the he does not have technical knowledge of the role. Have you felt this way before? I know I have.

Insightful Industry Acumen

Get to know the industry of the company you work for. There is an abundant amount of resources where you can research to gain industry insight. You can set a news alert for topics pertaining to your company and related competitors. There are industry research by technical analysts and financial reporters. There may be professional associations with publications to read and conferences you can attend. You may want to read your own company’s website for press releases and technical white papers. A savvy recruiter pieces together the broader picture of industry trends necessary to begin having thoughtful and insightful conversation with the hiring manager.

Insightful Hiring Meeting

Never go into a hiring brief meeting unprepared. It shows that you are unprepared and disengaged with supporting the business. A true savvy recruiter proactively does some homework to prepare. Review the job description to understand the role. The role maybe a repeat hire but, don’t assume it is exactly the same as before. Get a briefing from the human resource business partner. Learn the organization dynamics and skills needs of the entire team, not just the position being posted. Talk to matrix managers to learn from cross-functional teammates who may have insight into the role. Bring in a set of sample resumes that encompass the full range of skills and experience based on the stakeholders you have spoke with. A savvy recruiter can now drive a more productive hiring brief, with information even the hiring manager may not have previously known.

Insightful Hiring Outcome

In addition to candidate sourcing recruiters need to be able to influence the hiring outcome. To do this, the recruiter must be part of the business or technical interview process, not just the “HR interview.” It is no longer acceptable to just pass resumes to hiring managers for their screening and simply collect feedback at the end of interviews. Recruiters must also participate in interviewing candidates for their business acumen and depth of experience in their respective discipline. Moreover, the recruiter must be able to assess and make hiring recommendations based on technical fit for the role.

This last part of making interview decisions on a candidate is probably the most difficult part, especially if the recruiter does not have the requisite technical or business background. One example to start, the recruiter can sit in together with hiring managers on an interview. Learn the types of questions asked my hiring managers and the responses they look for. After a while, the recruiter can conduct interviews independently.

Developing a level of confidence in decision making is what makes the difference between a typical and an outstanding recruiter. Having the trust of hiring managers to affect hiring decisions is the hallmark of a savvy recruiter.

Employee Referral Program – Building a Referral Culture

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Survey studies show that Employee Referral programs bring in the best hires in the shortest time.  John Sullivan writes extensively on the best practices.

In a recent benchmark survey of companies in China, all companies studied have a formal referral program and 100% offer a referral bonus to employees with successful hires.

The average bonus payout is roughly 3,000 RMB (slightly under 500 USD).  The upper range of bonus payments, are reserved for difficult-to-fill and managerial positions, on average is 10,000 RMB (1,600 USD).  The very high end of the range are between 25,000 RMB (5,100 USD) to 30,000 RMB (6,100 USD).  These payments are for the most critical and senior level hires for the company.

While I don’t have statics, a show of hands, indicate that the average referral rate is roughly 20-25% out of the total sourcing channels.

Survey Summary:

*Data collected by 招聘兄弟会,Q2, 2013.

Industry # of Participating Companies Average Bonus Range Minimum (in RMB) Average Bonus Range Maximum (in RMB)
Automation 2  ¥3,000
Banking 2  ¥5,000  ¥25,000
Electronic 1  ¥2,000  ¥15,000
Entertainment 1  ¥2,000  ¥7,000
Healthcare 2  ¥3,500  ¥10,000
Industrial 3  ¥2,833  ¥6,333
Internet 2  ¥2,000  ¥8,000
IT/telecom 8  ¥2,838  ¥10,250
Professional Services 2  ¥10,000  ¥30,000
Retail/FMCG 4  ¥1,875  ¥6,667
Grand Total 27  ¥3,258  ¥10,762
Payout Period Total
After Onboard 4
After Onboard (3 months) 3
After Onboard (50%) / After Probation (50%) 1
After Probation 8
After Probation (2 months) 1
After Probation (3 months) 1
After Probation (6 months) 8
Not Applicable 1
Grand Total 27

Building A Referral Culture

Out of the 27 companies surveyed, just one company does not offer any referral bonus.  Yet, that company achieves a referral rate of over 35%, year over year.  Only two other companies exceed this benchmark with 45% and 65% referral rates but, those other 2 offer referral bonuses.  The other 24 companies, even with bonus money, not a small sum, in China standards on the high-end, do not yield the high results as one might want.


The high referral rate are a results of the following:

Proactive Recruiters – they do the same things as what other companies might do, that is to send out referral notices by email or other company communication channels.  To achieve the desired referral rates, they go the extra mile by proactively engaging employees and managers for referrals.  They sit with them to go through their list of business cards and identify other leads.

Leadership Involvement – referrals is not just an HR activity.  Hiring managers announce vacancies to their team in staff meetings.  Managers encourage their staff to provide leads to the recruiting team for follow up.  This one company in particular have a referral lunch where senior managers will take successful referral hires and the referring employee out to lunch.  This reinforces management and leadership focus on referrals.

Engaged Employees – employees refer if they find an emotional connection with the company and people whom they work with.  Otherwise, there is no incentive for them to refer and if the work culture is poor, why subject their friends to an unhealthy work environment.  One recruiter suggested, we should look at the retention rate and its correlation to employee referral rates.  In this one company’s experience they have exceeded benchmark referral rates without monetary rewards.


Please refer to this presentation I delivered at the HREC 9th Annual Recruiting & Staffing Conference (July 16-17, 2013) in Shanghai, China.

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How Not To Be An Idiot Recruiter

Thumbs up and down I was reading the Evil HR Lady blog and came across her blog  post, “Why is the Recruiter an Idiot?” The question asked is why recruiters who don’t have the technical knowledge of the job are put in a frontline position to make candidate selection decisions.  Is it just another loop for job candidates to go through?

I suggest that the recruiter play a critical part in the hiring process.  Let me outline this from a couple of perspectives:

1) Advisor/Consultant to the Hiring Manager

  • Yes, the hiring manager is the domain expert for the role being hired.  However, very few managers actually know the exact detail of skills and competencies needed for the job.
  • An top recruiter helps the hiring manager delineate the skills requirement for the job.  Preparing a job description is too narrow but, truly walking the manager though skills gap in his/her organization.
  • A effective recruiter helps the manager connect-the-dots between his internal organization competencies with external candidate qualifications.  If one really thinks about this, the recruiter is the frontline to organization development.

2) Facilitator of the Internal Processes

  • We all wish the hiring processes can be streamlined without extended delay in getting to an offer. But reality is that many organizations have ingrained processes, “this is how we do things.” Recruiter partners the hiring manager in working through the internal processes to a hiring decision.
  • Often, the recruiter proactively works with internal stakeholders and upper management on offer exceptions.  Not all offers are created equal.  The recruiter must understand the external market competitiveness and internal consistencies.  They make complex offer calculation scenarios to help internal HR partners make appropriate offer decisions.

3) Advocate for the Candidate

  • Not all recruiters are content expert at the role they are responsible for helping to hire.  But, recruiters are expected to know the “domain framework” and can help hiring managers “screen-in” the best-fit candidate.
  • While it is another loop to get through, if the candidate partners the recruiter, that recruiter can be a powerful advocate for the candidate.  The recruiter can help the candidate maneuver through the often drawn-out interview process, be a coach to anticipated tough interviews.  The recruiter can be the tie-breaker in a close call.

Leverage your recruiter to your advantage.  View them as your advisor, facilitator and advocate in the hiring processes.  As an ally, recruiters can be a powerful resource in connecting between the internal workforce organization and external candidate market and vice versa.

Recruiting Trends in Asia for 2011


As the year is winding down, I am going to take a stab at looking into the future, the year in 2011.

The job market is picking up and corporate recruiters need to step up and be part of the game.  The below are the 5 trends that will predominately occupy recruiting strategies for this next year.

#1) Use of Social Media – Top on the list is making traction with social media recruiting.  While this is has been a hot topic in the last several years, few companies have effectively leveraged its maximum potential.  Asia lags behind the US in using social media for recruiting.

  • Recruiters need to improve their approach in utilizing social networks.  It is more than just linking.
  • This also requires company’s IT department to rethink their social media policies.  Many companies disallow employees from accessing social network sites – leaving recruiters out of the game.
  • Recruiting departments need to provide training to the recruiting team of effective use of social media.  It is not about randomly linking people to increase the number of connections but the strength of those relationships is key.

#2) Executive Search Background – Corporate recruiters have relied too heavily on 3rd party agencies to supplement their recruitment efforts.

  • Recruitment managers will increasingly hire recruiters with executive search background.
  • A good recruiter will need to know market dynamics and industry knowledge.  They need to have contacts; they know where to find key talent.
  • Rather then processing a candidate, top-rate recruiters know how to interview and select talent.  They have the experience to evaluate and help managers make decisions on critical hires.  Pressure to reduce hiring costs will place increasing premium on the “executive recruiter.”

#3) Sales and Networking – In-house recruiters tend to work managing internal processes.

  • Recruiters need to step out of the office to network with the industry.  Attend industry conferences or business network events.
  • Having 500 connections on LinkedIn isn’t enough.  Sending job vacancy emails by itself will not get the necessary results.  Recruiters need to pick up the phone to pitch candidates and jobs.
  • Corporate recruiting need to know how to sell the company to candidates; and to identify and sell top-candidates to managers.

#4) Regional Recruiting – The recruiting function is moving towards a centralized function; another name for this is Center of excellence or shared service.  Singapore used to be the center but, China is increasingly becoming a hub.

  • Singapore recruiters need to hone in their exposure and expertise with China recruiting; at the same time maintain their core competencies in South East Asia.
  • China recruiters need to live up to the “Greater China” label and source outside of the mainland market.  Companies are starting to based their HQ in the China thus, recruiters are expected to have expertise in the Asia market.
  • Learning to partner with the corporate headquarter teams is crucial to being successful.  Always “educated upwards” with the corporate recruiting team to gain buy-in on the Asia’s unique recruiting market.

#5) Employer Branding – Businesses have been hit hard in the last couple of years.  Companies made some tough choices with layoffs and salary freezes.

  • Corporate recruiters should relook at their external message to rebuild trust that may have been eroded.
  • Don’t forget about the existing employees – they are even more valuable.  Building an internal brand messaging can help with retaining talent.
  • Rebuild your employee referral programs.  Getting your employee base excited again and leverage the base as an extension of your recruiting arm.

Employee Referral Program – Making it Work

If you ask, most organizations 1001 gelbe Konzertfanswill tell you that employee referrals is a valuable source of candidates.  Successful programs  typically can bring in 30% of hires through referrals.

Maintaining a referral program requires focused effort.  A lot of attention is given to referral program after the initial launch and then fades off.  Recruiter initially are excited to receive a huge pool of applicants then reverts back to waiting for resume flow, until the next referral push.

Thus, developing a referral culture is key to developing long-term success.  The norm is for employees to constantly connecting within their professional network pitching company as a great place to work.  Employees at all levels of the organization become an extension of the recruiting team.

Relationships:  Referrals by nature is relationship driven.  The strength of the relationship between the employee and the employer determines the propensity for recommendations.  The stronger the bond between the employee and the company the more likely to make recommendations.  The weaker the link the less likely to invite friends for available openings.

I often find that recruiters, literally, wait for employees to submit referrals.  Instead, I suggest that recruiters need to have a relationship with the employee base and to be proactively engage with department teams for contacts.  The effective recruiters will approach colleagues to generate prospective applicants.

Awareness:  Employee’s won’t necessarily go searching out for job vacancies on the company’s job posting site.  Make it easy for employees to know the current openings.  Help them identify which are the critical vacancies requiring referrals.  Leverage on company-wide intranet and other communication medium to inform employees.

Recruiters can work with colleagues to educate them on the requirements of the positions.  The more employees understand the requirements the better they can identify suitable referrals, rather than just sending in any resumes to the staffing team.

Recognition:  Many referral programs have a cash incentive component.  However, money is rarely a strong motivator for employees to make referrals.

What is important is recognizing employees for making effort to produce referrals.  Not all referrals get hired.  By recognizing effort will reinforce and encourage more referrals in the future.

Recruiting teams can maximize budget by hosting recognition and appreciation events.  With the same (or less) amount of money used for referral bonuses the publicity generated by an event can reinforce more employees to participate.

Final Thoughts

Creating and driving a referral culture is the key for a long-term and effective referral program.  It is unsustainable for a referral program to drive up referrals only when new incentives are offered.  Employees must continually be involved in generating candidates leads for the organization.

Regardless of the sophistication of the company program recruiters need to take ownership to drive relationship with employees, create awareness of job requirements and recognize referral effort.