SI Review: October 2010

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Recruiting Recruiters, Si Review October 2010

By Julie McCoy

QPS Employment Group is looking for a few good recruiters. The Brookfield WI-based staffing company -- which has experienced a 50% increase in sales this year thanks to a slowly recovering economy -- hired seven or eight new recruiters earlier this year to accommodate the increase in business, and plans to hire another seven or eight before the year is over, according to Jeri Meyers, director of sales development. Meyers, who oversees hiring of recruiters for QPS' professional staffing division, says two new recruiters have been hired for that division alone, and plans call for adding two or three more.

What Staffing Companies Look for in a New Recruiter

Now that the economy has begun to improve, many staffing companies, like QPS, are hiring recruiters again. So, what are they looking for in a new recruiter? What kind of skills, qualities and background/experience should a new recruiter ideally have? SI Review spoke with executives to find out.

Sales Background, Strong Phone Skills, Ability to Work Independently Key

QPS' Meyers says she's looking for someone with a sales background. After all, recruiters have to convince or "sell" candidates on the idea that QPS is a good company to work for, and they have to "sell" clients on how great QPS' candidates are, Meyers points out.

Also, because so much of the work recruiters do is over the phone, it's important to have good phone skills, Meyers stresses. She wants someone who is independent and doesn't need to be micromanaged. Additionally, she is looking for someone who plans to stay with the company awhile. "You want recruiters that are having that long-term commitment to the company," she says.

Meyers say she's hired people with an IT background and tried to make them recruiters but hasn't had much success with it. "That can be challenging," she says.

Some of the recruiters QPS has hired recently are simply being "rehired." They are former QPS recruiters who unfortunately had to be laid off in the recession, and now QPS is able to give them their jobs back.

QPS sets metrics for recruiters and expects them to meet those metrics, Meyers explains. The metrics include such things as making 50 phone calls a day, sending three candidates to client sites for interviews each week and adding 25 candidates to the database each week. "Recruiters that don't meet the metrics are the ones that fail," Meyers says.

Time Management, Interpersonal Skills and Persistence Essential

Sapphire Technologies has beefed up its recruiting by 30%, according to regional manager Terry O'Leary, who oversees the company's New York, New Jersey and Boston offices. "We have actively been hiring and have been all year," he says. "It's been a good pace of that. We're going to continue to do that as long as the demand supports it. We have a pretty aggressive plan."

Sapphire hires a mixture of people who have been in the industry and outside the industry. O'Leary says Sapphire is looking for someone who is highly motivated, a self-starter, has great time management skills, asks good questions and has great interpersonal skills. "We're in the business of meeting, assessing and marketing people, so we really have to get along with them," he points out. It's also important to find someone who is competitive, aggressive, persistent and who knows how to tap into social networking, O'Leary stresses.

Social Media Skills a Must

Robin Mee, president of Mee Derby -- a Maryland-based national search firm specializing in placing professionals in staffing, professional services and workforce management -- stresses that staffing companies today want to hire someone with social media skills. In particular, they want someone who is strong on professional networking site LinkedIn, she says, noting that: "I think LinkedIn has become the new gold standard for recruiting."

It all starts off with the potential new recruiter having a presence on LinkedIn him or herself. Staffing companies want to make sure the person they're considering hiring is personally on LinkedIn. Says Sapphire's O'Leary: "It is increasingly attractive if I can see somebody who has their profile [on the site]."

It's important for a prospective recruiter not only to be on LinkedIn but also to have a lot of contacts on it, Mee points out. "The more contacts anyone has on LinkedIn, the more people they are connected to," she says.

Mee has had clients turn down potential recruiters because of poorly written profiles on LinkedIn and not enough information in the profiles. "The client goes, 'This is not a robust LinkedIn user,'" she says. "They want someone who is going to come in and teach their organization how to use LinkedIn aggressively."

Sapphire's O'Leary says he'd like to hire someone who is not only strong on LinkedIn but also uses Twitter and knows how to link the two together.

Also in the technology area, staffing companies want to hire someone who is familiar with VMS, has used it and worked in a high-volume VMS environment, Mee points out.

Business Background an Asset

Jonathan Thom, VP of professional staffing for Express Employment Professionals, says his division has hired 103 new recruiters companywide since July 2009 and the plan is to add an additional 30 before the end of the year, bringing it up to 133. And the plan is to add another 125 in 2011. "We're expanding rapidly," he says. "We're going to continue to hire very aggressively. Many of our franchise locations are aggressively adding staff to meet client demands."

Thom says he's looking for someone who has a business background, is highly focused on driving sales, is flexible and open to new ways of doing business, and who can react quickly to changes in the marketplace and embrace those changes. Previous industry experience is a plus, but, "We have hired as many people without experience as with experience," he notes. He prefers not to hire recent college graduates. "They don't have the experience to have a discussion with the CFO, director of internal audit, that kind of thing."

Importance of Moral, Ethical and Coachable Individual

Fort Lauderdale FL-based SFN Group hired 45 new recruiters in the first half of the year and at least another 25 in the third quarter, according to Brendan Courtney, president of The Mergis Group, SFN Group's professional division. In addition, SFN Group hired 34 people from all over the country who didn't have recruiting experience, and it is putting them through a six-month boot camp training program so that they can also be recruiters.

SFN Group is looking for someone who is moral and ethical, according to Courtney. The individual also should be smart, coachable, have a track record of success and be willing to take advice from more experienced people. He or she should also be a people
 person with strong interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic. "It requires a big time investment," says Courtney.

Additionally, SFN Group looks at what kind of success and what kind of roles the candidate had in high school or college.

Jeff Luma, managing director of Technisource, a division of SFN Group, says he has two recruiter openings he's trying to fill. The sooner he can fill the positions the better. "Tomorrow would be ideal," he says.

Luma wants someone who is a team player. "If you have one kind of weak link, it can really bring down the whole team," he points out. He's also looking for someone who has strong negotiation skills, is motivated and not afraid to work at home or work after hours, has the ability to really screen candidates and has not only staffing experience but also IT staffing experience in particular.

Excellent Customer Service Skills Needed

Springfield MO-based Penmac Staffing wants someone with excellent customer service skills and adequate data entry, Microsoft and Excel skills, notes Hayley Hutchins, director of human resources. The company also wants someone who can handle the fast pace of the industry and who will "live and breathe" Penmac, she explains. "You have to be in it with your whole heart."

Penmac does personality assessments to see if a recruiter is the right fit. The first test looks at candidates' integrity, reliability, work ethic and likelihood of substance abuse. The second looks at how organized they are, how they deal with tension in the workplace, how sensitive they are, their assertiveness and competitiveness, and how they like to be rewarded. "It's not a pass/fail kind of thing," explains Hutchins. "It's more to make sure they're going to match with the staff we have."

Creativity, Good Listening Skills Critical

Waltham MA-based Winter, Wyman Companies -- which experienced 17% growth between the first and second quarter of this year -- hired nine new recruiters between early March and the end of June to accommodate the increase in business, according to Scott Ragusa, president of contract businesses. And the company planned to add eight more recruiters -- five in its permanent placement business and three in its contract business -- by the end of September. "We're feeling really good about it," Ragusa says.

The goal is to hire someone who is creative (thinks outside the box and comes up with ideas instead of taking other people's ideas) and possesses good listening skills, according to Ragusa.

Winter, Wyman also is looking for someone who is driven and motivated, has strong communication skills and can talk to all levels of candidates, explains Ragusa. The company hires recruiters who have been both in and outside the industry.

Chris Mitchell, a senior technical recruiter, joined Winter, Wyman this past spring with six and a half years of recruiting experience under his belt. He wanted to still do recruiting but change companies, he explains. One of the benefits of having experience is that he was "able to hit the ground running," and it has made his transition from his other company easier, he points out.

In addition to having experience, Mitchell says another contributor to his success is the fact that he's determined and hardworking. "The more time you put in, the more you get out of it," he says. Mitchell plans to stay with Winter, Wyman awhile. "I think times will just continue to get better," he says. "Hopefully that will advance my career. That's the plan."

One person who is from outside the industry is Dave Nelson, who last November joined Winter, Wyman's New York technology division as a consultant who does both recruiting and account management. Recruiting wasn't something Nelson planned to get into, yet he had seen other people be successful at it, found the timing was right and thought he'd give it a try, he explains.

Prior to joining Winter, Wyman, Nelson worked at EMC, a large technology corporation, for three years, where he sold hardware and software products to a wide range of companies. Nelson decided he had outgrown what he had done and wanted something that would provide more of a challenge personally and professionally. Before EMC, Nelson was in the construction business, having started his own construction company right after college. He's been at Winter, Wyman for nearly a year now found it was a good fit for him. "I like selling a service," he says. "I enjoy the service aspect of it."

Ability to Multitask, Write Well, Be Goal-Oriented and Organized Paramount

Chicago-based Instant Technology hired one new recruiter in January and three new recruiters in June (two who are entry-level and one who is mid-level), according to recruiting manager Kevin McNeela. The plan is to add at least two more before year's end.

Instant Technology is looking for someone who has an interest in sales, explains senior technical recruiter Bethany Hess. "We kind of look at it as an inside sales role," explains Hess. "They should have an interest in sales and come across like they can sell at different companies and different levels within different companies."

Instant Technology also wants someone who is able to multitask, has strong writing skills, is outgoing, interested in meeting new people and flexible. Additionally, the company is looking for someone who likes variety and doesn't need to adhere to a regimented schedule, and someone who is goal-oriented and organized. "We definitely grill people about their organizational skills," says McNeela. "We have found that can separate a good recruiter from a great recruiter." Instant Technology hires both strong college graduates and experienced recruiters.

Someone Who Knows What Customer Satisfaction Is, How to Deliver It Wanted

Houston-based ChaseSource hired two recruiters as well as a staffing supervisor/recruiter and an HR manager this year, according to Annette Miller, director of recruiting. The ideal recruiters are those "who can roll up their sleeves and get the job at hand done," she explains. "I want someone who just jumps in at any point."

Miller says she wants someone "who genuinely cares about each associate." She explains, "They're going to be a champion for that associate. I want someone who [also] is just as interested in being a champion for the organization."

Also, Miller wants someone who knows what it means to deliver customer satisfaction and knows the difference between customer service and customer satisfaction. "The difference between customer service and customer satisfaction is that customer service is an action whereas customer satisfaction is a feeling," she points out. "I want someone who understands the distinction between the two."

In addition, Miller is looking for someone who is personable, engaging, has a good personality, is coachable, has the HR experience to handle employment issues, and trusts his or her instincts.

Seek Culture Fit, a Strong Work Ethic, and a Positive Attitude

Prestige Staffing hired three new recruiters in the second quarter and is looking to hire another five to eight more, according to CEO Ronnie Hollis. "Things have definitely picked up," he says. "Our gross margin has increased. Business has definitely picked up for us. A lot of that is in the IT."

The company's model has always been to hire recent college grads and entry-level recruiters, but just this year it started hiring experienced people as well, explains Hollis. "The reason is to really grab market share now and diversify yourself to grow," he says.
 "The benefit is they know the technology and can hit the ground running. The more people you get to hit the ground running, the faster you can grow market share. You want people who are aggressive."

Prestige is looking for someone who will fit into
 the company's growth-oriented mode, who fits into the company's culture and is willing to do whatever is best for the company, who has a strong work ethic and a sense of urgency and ownership when it comes to filling those job orders, and is coachable and has a positive attitude.

Look for Fresh College Grads with Computer Science Education

Akraya, a Sunnyvale CA-based information technology staffing and services firm, hired seven new recruiters in the first half of the year, according to Sunil Phatak, director of U.S. recruiting. Two were the company's U.S. operations, and five were for its India operations. Akraya is looking for experienced recruiters who have been in the staffing industry and have a proven track record, Phatak says.

When Akraya hires recruiters for its India operations, it's looking for fresh college graduates with a computer science education. The company then trains them. After three months, they hit the floor as independent recruiters. "We have a local manager who is responsible for nurturing them," explains Phatak.

If your staffing company is once again hiring recruiters, you want to make sure whoever you bring on board has the qualities, skills and background you're looking for. That will increase your chances that the individual is "a right fit" and will stay with your company
 for a long time, which is good news in an industry that typically has a lot of turnover.

SPEED Program Helps SkillStorm Find Top Recruiters
 A little more than a year ago, San Diego-based SkillStorm put together a program called SPEED (SkillStorm Program for Extreme Employee Development), and those who graduate from the program become recruiters for the company, explains Brian Brown, executive VP/executive director. College graduates enroll in the intense six-week training program but are not guaranteed a job. They are competing every week to make it to the next week. "It's a very competitive situation," says Brown. He adds that, "They're coming out to California with no guarantee for a job [and] then deployed to offices all over the country."

Each six-week program is a $70,000 investment on SkillStorm's behalf, but Brown says it pays for itself within the first month of the new recruiters being out in the field. The program is open to people who haven't been in the industry.

Brown says SkillStorm is looking for someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit and is a risk taker. SkillStorm hires people based on whether they're a good fit with the company culture and then trains them to do the job, Brown says.

How Can Recruiters Build Better, Stronger Relationships with Their Clients?
 One thing that would help is to make an effort to meet with their clients in person and see what their client company's work environment is like, says Jeri Meyers, director of sales development for Brookfield WI-based QPS Employment Group. "Get out and about and actually do the visits," she recommends. "Go on tours. Check out the manufacturing plant. See the cubicles."

Recruiters should always make sure they follow up with their clients, Meyers stresses. "The better you can improve your follow-up -- that's a great way to keep ahead of the competition."

Instead of having a strictly business relationship with their clients, recruiters should make an effort to get to know their clients on a personal level as well, Meyers recommends. What are their hobbies and interests? Who is in their family? What's going on in their lives? Perhaps a client's son or daughter had a soccer game over the weekend. Recruiters should know that and make a point to ask how it went.

It's also important for recruiters to acknowledge clients' birthdays and anniversaries and to show appreciation to their clients, Meyers stresses. For example, they should send handwritten notes to their clients thanking them for their business.

When recruiters see one of their clients mentioned in the news, Meyers recommends they send a note saying: Congrats -- We saw you in x, y or z publication. Recruiters should understand how their clients' business works, what's next on the agenda for their clients, and what their clients' challenges are, says Allison Chappelle, director of talent recruiting for Adecco. "How can we ease their pain. How can we really partner with them and take that burden off of them."

Also, recruiters need to always be upfront and honest with their clients. "If there's a problem, face it head on," says Annette Miller, director of recruiting for ChaseSource. "You want your problems to be resolved. Resolve a problem quickly and honestly. If you can do that, then your client will have confidence in you and your team."

Recruiters also should stand behind what they tell their clients and whatever they commit to do for them, Miller stresses. "If you can't commit to it, be upfront as quickly as possible," she says. "It's all about communication. Relationships are built -- they live and die -- based on communication."

Another thing recruiters should do is partner with their clients and help them understand things that aren't clear to them, such as employment law, for example, recommends Hayley Hutchins, director of human resources at Springfield MO-based Penmac Staffing.

RESUME
 Qualities Staffing Companies Look for in a New Recruiter

  • sales background
  • good phone skills
  • independent, doesn't need to be micromanaged
  • longevity
  • highly motivated
  • self-starter
  • great time management skills
  • asks good questions
  • great interpersonal skills
  • competitive
  • aggressive
  • persistent
  • strong social media skills
  • strong presence on LinkedIn
  • familiarity with VMS
  • business background
  • highly focused on driving sales
  • flexible
  • open to new ways of doing business
  • can react quickly to changes in the marketplace and embrace those changes
  • moral
  • ethical
  • smart
  • coachable
  • track record of success
  • willing to take advice from more experienced people
  • people person
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • strong work ethic, not afraid to work at home or after hours
  • team player
  • strong negotiation skills
  • can handle the fast pace of the industry
  • ability to really screen candidates
  • excellent customer service skills
  • adequate data entry; Microsoft and Excel skills
  • can handle the fast pace of the industry
  • creativity
  • good listening skills
  • strong communication skills
  • can talk to all levels of candidates
  • ability to multitask
  • strong writing skills
  • outgoing
  • interested in meeting new people
  • likes variety -- not looking for a regimented schedule
  • goal-oriented
  • organized
  • can roll up their sleeves and get the job at hand done
  • knows what it means to deliver customer satisfaction
  • understands the difference between customer satisfaction and customer service
  • personable
  • engaging
  • good personality
  • fits into the company's culture
  • positive attitude
  • has the HR experience to handle employment issues
  • trusts his or her instincts
  • risk taker
  • entrepreneurial spirit

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