Recruitment Research: A Model of Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Economy

It seems like eons ago, but it was only January. That’s when hiring managers and external recruiters were lamenting the lack of qualified talent to fill the large number of open positions.

Source: Olivier Le Moal / iStock / Getty Images

At the time, attracting and retaining top talent was also on the minds of company CEOs, who ranked this issue their top concern heading into 2020, according to a global survey by The Conference Board.  Some companies were even stockpiling workers to get ahead in a tight labor market. This included 77% of hiring managers filling positions that didn’t exist a year ago, as reported by Korn Ferry.

The COVID-19 global pandemic changed that paradigm, though unearthing the best candidates—that is, those with the skills to do the job and who are a cultural fit for their companies, too—is still a challenge. This is particularly true in high-growth fields, in which competition for workers remains fierce.

One solution to the problem can be found in an often-overlooked approach to recruitment called recruitment research. This multistep methodology targets desired candidates and connects them with employers using a flexible pricing model.

Recruitment research involves five key steps: a sourcing strategy, which includes an in-depth situation analysis to glean insights about the company and the open position; name generation to identify candidates who are a fit for the job; recruitment candidate vetting to contact and prequalify candidates; candidate evaluation (the all-important interview process); and presentation and reporting to share the results of the search and provide the hiring leader with a database of prospective candidates.

When thinking about recruitment research, remember the three “E’s”: efficiency, effectiveness, and economy.

A Model of Efficiency

The foundation of recruitment research is an in-depth situation assessment to understand the culture and personality of the hiring company, along with the job’s requirements, responsibilities, and specific skill set needed.

Using a comprehensive intake form, the recruitment team collects data about its clients’ recruiting targets, geographic preferences, salary and compensation levels, communication expectations, and industry-specific vernacular.

This is a terrific exercise that will arm the hiring leader with insights needed to develop a customized, scalable plan for filling the job at hand. It also cuts waste out of the process.

Consider that one client may lack branding in a new region or market data on prospective workers for salary negotiations, while another could have little or no access to industry association networks or is faced with urgently filling multiple positions in multiple locations. And yet another may desire to improve company diversity by hiring women in management roles where they typically have not been found but may not know how to begin.

Recruitment research uses a mix of cold calling, Internet outreach, and other strategic tactics to find candidates who fit companies’ specific job requirements. This includes mining prospects who may not be actively looking for a career move at all.

A Model of Effectiveness

Another hallmark of recruitment research is creating a sourcing strategy to effectively uncover leads based on a company’s unique preferences.

In the case of the Catholic Community Foundation, that meant finding CEO candidates who were not only qualified but also practicing Catholics.

Similarly, a client in veterinary pharmaceuticals wanted to locate potential salespeople with three specific skill sets: the know-how, energy, and ability to connect with and sell to customers; the knowledge of complex pharmaceutical products; and the ability to “speak horse.” (The client sold equine medications.) Brainstorming resulted in a plan for targeting both universities with equine programs and former equestrians potentially interested in sales careers.

Then there are the nuances in particular jobs. For example, a client may need a product manager, but there may be 15 types of product managers. Understanding precisely what the position entails and where the talent resides is part of what makes recruitment research a winning approach.

The scalable nature of recruitment research also is advantageous because it enables hiring leaders to home in on the prospects who would be the best fit for the job.

A Model of Economy

The final component of recruitment research is cost. Some traditional recruiting firms require their clients to sign retainer fees that add up, on average, to one-third of successful candidates’ first-year salaries. Others use a contingency fee that ranges from 20% to 25%.

Research recruitment uses a cost-effective model based on billable hours, much like a certified professional accountant (CPA) or an attorney. Clients choose from a menu of needed services that can result in a cost savings of up to 50% per project compared with traditional recruitment practices.

Just as business practices continue to evolve, so do the way companies attract talent. Recruitment research is a proven approach that matches the best candidates with the jobs at hand while saving employers money, too.

Kathleen Duffy is president and CEO of Duffy Group, Inc., which sources and recruits candidates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe, and Asia. 

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