Imagine a newly minted doctor deciding that she knew everything she’d ever need to know about medicine simply because she had completed her formal education and residency. That would be ridiculous, right? In most professions, it’s understood that continuing education is required to keep your skills up-to-date. Professional training programs, annual certifications, and industry conferences exist for just that purpose.
Unfortunately, recruitment seems to be a discipline that often fails to live up to this standard. When we talk to potential clients about their RPO needs, we often ask about their existing recruitment training programs. Most admit that there’s not much there. If training for their internal recruiters is offered at all, it's infrequent, and typically utilizes generic third-party programs that aren’t tailored to the company's culture and processes. Consciously or not, it seems that many companies expect internal recruiters to come to them with an in-place body of skills, and that, like with our misguided doctor above, these skills are the only ones they’ll really ever need.
They’re wrong. Recruiting changes as rapidly as any other professional discipline – maybe even more so – and with talent-war success growing in bottom-line importance, it makes no sense to rely on skills that might be years, or even decades out of date.
So where should companies start? At the basic level, recruitment training should be timely, well-organized, and interactive. It should be reflective of your company’s values and culture, as that’s what your recruiters will be selling, after all. But even accounting for these necessary cultural variations, there are three key elements that all effective recruitment training programs need to include.
An Evolving Curriculum
The recruiting industry is rapidly evolving, with tools, processes, and philosophies constantly changing. By now, recruiters should have mastered LinkedIn; they also need to know how to use the best of the new recruiting tools that are popping up daily. Recruiters need to be aware of evolving candidate-engagement techniques, like behavioral profiling and social media outreach.
To help recruiters stay current, design a training program that’s based on continuous learning. Offer monthly courses that address the latest tools and techniques for recruiting. Your recruiters should know how to use tools like Exalead, DDG and Blekkoas well as they know how to use LinkedIn. In addition, training should be provided on the latest behavioral techniques, in the best case by industry or position type. For example, when seeking IT professionals with Java experience, recruiters should know how to formulate insightful questions that allow (often) non-expressive candidate’s to reveal their actual, current level of Java expertise.
Accountability is one of the top traits companies look for in their recruiters. All levels of recruiters need to understand that staying on top of responsibilities and addressing client issues is more important than preserving their ego or covering their butt. Oftentimes, hearing about the experiences of peers can help recruiters avoid making the same mistakes, or help them to repeat a successful process.
To realize the benefits of peer-to-sharing among your recruiters, encourage honest, open communication during each training session. Ask your recruiters for their best and worst experiences pertaining to the lesson at hand. A good training session should offer attendees the chance to listen to peers discuss successes and failures openly, facilitating honesty and accountability.
A “Lazy Susan” Structure
It's human nature to become complacent as you become more experienced in your career. Inevitably, even the most experienced recruiters will gravitate toward the tasks they like, and get flabby on the ones they don't (or the ones they aren’t good at). Recruiters need to be pushed to keep their recruiting skills in top shape.
To avoid complacency, I like to think of the "Lazy Susan" analogy. A successful training program should be like the Lazy Susan on your dinner table: it should include ALL levels of staff and systematically spin through EVERY skill required in that role. For example, a course about properly sourcing candidates should include everything from how to use social media techniques to ferret out great candidates to how to generate excitement with a candidate during the initial phone conversation. This forces the staff to tackle skills (even the more basic ones) that they may have been ignoring on an ongoing basis.
Don't underestimate the power of a systematic and comprehensive recruitment training program to reshape and reinvigorate your company’s recruiters. Without a constant emphasis on learning to stay ahead of changing market conditions, your recruiters will fall behind…fast.