Robin Schooling is one of those HR professionals that has seen both sides of the fence. Starting her career in agency recruitment, to then go in-house for HR departments means she understand just how real the struggle is for everyone, and as usual, offers some fantastic insights for us all.
What’s the most common HR/recruitment question you get asked?
Probably how do I find people, and how I go about finding the talent needed. Also, if there’s really a war for talent on, I get asked that a lot too.
What do you respond to that?
Well I think war for talent is an easy buzz word we toss out there. We’re not at war for talent, we’re at war for attracting the right people. It’s a war for attraction.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in recruitment and what are the challenges coming up?
I think over the years it goes back to how we as employers differentiate ourselves in the correct way to attract the right people, and the challenge is that lots of organizations jumped on any kind of employer branding and they’re all sitting on the same message. Through recruitment marketing it has all become planned and generic across the spectrum. So, the future challenge is that we become smart employers and smart recruiters and that we personalize our marketing and messaging. It’s about drilling down to the micro-levels of what a particular job or work group is like and finding ways to create very personalized recruitment messages for virtually every candidate you come in touch with.
So then is it the responsibility of the recruiter to sell the message of being an employer?
I think the recruiter is the architect of that and the sole leader of how to get there, but it also heightens the responsibility of hiring managers. This is more the internal side, but hiring managers need to be much more involved in the transaction piece and the courtship phase. They definitely need to play a more critical role in converting candidates to applicants.
The hard thing about that is they’re always busy.
Yes and that’s the talent isn’t it. Over the last six months I’ve seen and read articles where this is happening. There’s a local employer here actually whose CEO and senior leaders have decided to re-insert themselves to some degree into the interview process. They’re hiring around 50 people a month so they’re busy, and the CEO or two other senior leaders meets every single applicant before a final offer is made.
If LinkedIn turned off the lights where would recruiters and TA teams find candidates?
Honestly, I think it would give recruiting a little kick in the ass. Reenergize it a bit. Get recruiters back in the trenches, face-to-face, going to events and nurturing their own networks. You’re talking to someone here who rarely uses LinkedIn for our hires, so it can be done. Recruiters just tend to use it as a crutch. I think it would be great.
Why does recruitment have such a bad perception and how do we fix it?
I’m going to disagree with you here a little bit. As a candidate, I’ve never been mistreated or ignored. I’ve always had amazing recruiters that are responsive and send me only what I want to see. I do think there is a bad reputation for in-house or HR. When you’ve got recruiters doing the full cycle, working with candidates, building a desk, winning business, it all becomes high pressured sales. That’s where I’ve had negative experiences. Recruiters calling me to say they’ve seen I’m advertising for a role and when I tell them we don’t have the budget for an agency or it’s under control, they hound me. And I used to work for an agency so I understand the other side, I know what they’re doing.
So, what’s the solution?
I think we change that by presenting ourselves as a partner instead of someone coming to make a quick buck. I’d rather spend time over the years working with external recruiters who are a partner to me.
What HR process is broken and how would you fix it?
Oh there are so many. The biggest one I think is the continuity in the lifecycle of employees. What I mean is that you have so many parts to HR and talent. You’ve got learning and development and on boarding and employee relations and payroll and whatever, and the messaging and the experience isn’t consistent across the board. We’re getting them through the door in the first place, talent attraction is strong and working, but once we pass them off and they become an employee, it’s like a totally different company. HR departments and teams need to sit down with themselves, just among themselves, and take a realistic look at what continuity looks like in the employee lifecycle and what transition is like.
I saw something recently that said six million jobs in the US alone need to be filled this year. Does the world need more agency recruiters, or more internal talent acquisition professionals?
I think beefing up in-house is the way to go, but then again, I’m bias. The model in the US tends to favor internal anyway, but I think having somebody in-house who is a member of the team, invested in the company and who understands the culture and how things work is really important. And with the unemployment rate going down, it’s harder than ever to get the right people, so you need someone inside who can hack the war for attraction.
Status updates, blogs, groups, podcasts, eBooks; what’s the next communication channel in the industry?
Hmm, I don’t actually know. I’ve never been that engaged with it as I’d always rather read something than watch a video or listen to a podcast, I just don’t have the time to do that. I think brevity is key however. Find the most value, the niche groups and spend time on those things. I know Facebook groups are geared towards HR. There’s some I’m in that always have the answers I’m looking for.
Any Facebook group you’d recommend?
The HR OS group is fantastic. HR Open Source.
What’s the latest piece of technology that you’ve recently adopted into your day that you couldn’t live without?
Well I wouldn’t say I can’t live without it, but one thing we’ve started using here and are still playing around with is a bot for recruiting.
A company called So Go Hire are developing one for us and we’re testing that. It’s cut down on the phone calls we get and there’s the sense that we’re getting much more human interaction than before.
For more information or to read more of Robin Schooling, we recommend following her via the following links: