Keep your staffing firm competitive by hiring — and training — right
Hiring will take off this year, claim workplace experts. The economy will recover and corporations will scramble to fill certain high-skilled jobs. It’s expected to be especially tough to recruit skilled candidates in the coming decade.
So what do you do to get ready for the hiring boom that is expected to happen? Make sure you hire the right recruiters and make sure they are on top of issues and familiar with the latest tools and technologies needed. Social media has introduced a whole new way of recruiting. It’s almost an art form. To obtain your share of the best talent, your recruiters will need to acquire new skills and update old ones.
We at SI Review understand that recruiting top talent is your competitive advantage. So we talked with representatives of many staffing companies to learn how they approach testing and training their own recruiters. Here are their stories and their advice.
The Testing Edge
When QPS Employment Group is thinking about hiring someone as a recruiter, the Brookfield, Wis.-based staffing firm doesn’t just rely on the candidate’s resume, interview and references. The company goes one step further, sending the candidate an e-mail with two or three different tests — developed by a company called Kenexa Prove It! — that assess such things as the candidate’s data entry, grammar and customer service skills as well as e-mail etiquette, according to training manager Mark Milan.
If QPS happens to be on the fence between two candidates, the one who scored better on the tests is going to have an advantage.
If QPS does indeed decide to hire somebody as a recruiter, he or she then undergoes a day or two of in-person training
that covers such things as the ABCs of staffing (for those who happen to be new to the industry), the type of positions QPS fills, what costs the company is responsible for, average markup, how QPS is different from the competition, I-9 compliance, W-4s, the basics of workers’ compensation and unemployment.
QPS trained about 50 new hires in 2010, according to Milan. And even after this initial training, recruiters receive follow-up training that covers such things as software, interviewing and any procedural changes.
“We just want to make sure people get a good start with our company,” says Milan, who has been a trainer four of the 15 years he has been with QPS. “We want to make sure they get off on a good foot and know the real positives of the company.”
At Springfield, Mo.-based Penmac Staffing, a potential recruiter first takes a clerical test to assess his or her computer skills, says training manager Aimée Nichols. Then, he or she comes in for an interview.
If the interview goes well, the candidate will be referred to the HR manager and takes two surveys, one known as the Insure survey and another known as the Personality Plus survey.
The Insure survey gauges the candidate’s integrity, reliability, work ethic and propensity for drug abuse. The Personality Plus survey, developed by Advanced Psychometrics, a Texas-based corporation, measures the candidate in 10 personality traits: organization, sensitivity, imagination, flexibility, recognition, tension, probing level, social need, assertiveness and competitiveness.
Penmac looks for someone who, based on the entire survey, is found to be a 90 percent match with the company’s standard for a recruiter, who is known internally as a “staffing specialist.”
“A good staffing specialist has a certain score, for example on organization,” explains Nichols. “If they fall in that range, they would be considered a good match for that position.”
Both the Insure survey and Personality Plus survey are done at home on the prospective recruiters’ own time. Candidates are expected to respond to the multiple choice questions openly and honestly.
“We really believe in using pre-employment [screening],” Nichols explains. “It’s not a hundred percent, but at least it gives us a little better chance that the person is going to be a right fit.”
Those who do well on the surveys come in for a final interview with management. If they are hired, they undergo four days of orientation and training at the company’s corporate office. The training covers such things as how to interview and employment law (which questions recruiters can ask job candidates and which questions recruiters can’t ask).
Penmac also holds mandatory ADA and harassment training, which employees are expected to complete online annually. The training is offered two times a year, typically in January and July. Additionally, the company holds a workers’ compensation boot camp at its corporate office twice a year, which also is typically offered in January and July.
The Right Fit
At The Right Solutions, a Tontitown, Ark.-based healthcare staffing firm, a potential recruiter takes not only the Frances Littauer personality test but also the Arkansas Step One test.
This test helps determine if the individual is honest and assess his or her work ethic and whether he or she will fit into the company culture, according to CEO Diana Wright. The company is looking for someone who is a leader, detail-oriented, can accept rejection and deal with difficult situations, Wright says.
Further, prospective recruiters take a computer skills test and undergo drug tests and background checks before they are hired, according to Wright.
Once on board, new recruiters receive two weeks of book training with a sales manager prior to being paired with another recruiter, who acts as a mentor. After about a week with the new recruiter, the mentor steps back to observe him or her in action.
But the training doesn’t stop there. Overall, new recruiters at TRS receive a year to a year and a half of training. “I have extremely long training periods,” Wright says.
Recruiters at TRS also participate in sales trainer Jack Daly’s webinars, which cover such things as how to manage your recruiting day, how to make things fun, and how to do Internet research before picking up the phone. “Whenever he does them, we attend them,” says Wright, who met Daly and learned of his programs at the Staffing Industry Executive Forum, produced by the publisher of this magazine.
Wright credits its testing and training programs with helping reduce turnover, noting that one of her recruiters has been with the company for 12 years.
All About Onboarding
Dallas-based DISYS starts out with conducting a DISC personality test on potential new recruiters, according to Robert Ford, national delivery trainer. “We believe it is important to understand what makes a person tick,” Ford explains. Based on the results of the test, the company adapts its coaching, mentoring and training to better suit the individual recruiters. “With us working in the service industry, we want to make sure that any of our recruiters can handle the many facets of our job that come up every day,” Ford says.
Once candidates are hired, they undergo an eight-week onboarding program, which provides information on the company itself, the DISYS recruiting process, training on the company’s CRM and ERP systems and negotiations training.
The program consists of one week in the office, one week at corporate, and then six weeks back in the office for what the company calls its live recruiting/evaluation period. “We believe after those eight weeks any newly hired recruiter will have the tools to be successful with our company,” Ford says. Some of the training is done in-person and some of it is done on the Web.
DISYS spent the latter half of 2010 putting together the course, the content and schedule for this year’s onboarding program, which every current recruiter, even veterans, will go through, Ford explains. “With our anticipated growth we knew this was a topic we needed to get into stone rather quickly.”
Without the testing and training program, Ford says, the firm’s recruiters would have a tough time completing their job on a day-to-day basis. Lacking operating standards leaves the company open to scrutiny, he says.
In late 2008, Elwood Staffing launched the Elwood Academy, which provides Web-based training every day for the first seven days new hires, including recruiters, are with the company, according to Connie Whisner, director of talent development. Elwood Academy focuses on issues that are specific to the company, such as its culture, history and processes, Whisner says. As of late 2010 there were 14 modules for new hires to complete, though eventually the program will have 20 modules.
Elwood Staffing also has a program known as Power of Purple -- a week of classroom training that new hires receive within the 60 days of employment. Power of Purple helps new hires learn how to apply the concepts taught in the Elwood Academy modules, according to Whisner. A number of people are involved with the Power of Purple training, including the company’s corporate counsel, director of business development, director of HR and director of safety.
“People like to know that the company cares about their growth and development,” Whisner says. “If we didn’t have the training, it would be a huge impact on the company.”
Elwood Staffing also provides training for the Certified Staffing Professional exam, says President John Elwood. The company buys all of the handbooks and study guides that recruiters need to prepare for the test, which is pass/fail. Upon earning the CSP designation, professionals are required to get a minimum of 30 hours of training over the course of three years to keep it, according to Elwood.
Up to SPEED
San Diego-based SkillStorm has developed an intense program designed to identify the most promising candidates. The Skill Storm Program for Extreme Educational Development, or SPEED, is a highly competitive six-week sales training program in which recent and upcoming college graduates compete to be a recruiter for the company, according to Brian Brown, executive vice president.
On average, 1,000 people apply to each SPEED program and only 10 are chosen to participate. SkillStorm covers all of the participants’ expenses, including travel costs to the training site in San Diego.
The program is intense. Testing begins on the first day, and those who don’t pass leave the program immediately.
During the last week, the company decides who gets hired. On average, four people actually graduate from each SPEED program, and those lucky few receive a $4,000 bonus.
SkillStorm spends about $70,000 on each SPEED session, but “it’s definitely worthwhile,” Brown says. “We actually make money doing the program. The revenue that is generated more than pays for itself.”
Philadelphia-based Yoh provides new recruiters with online training that covers what they should be working on, what their daily schedule should be like and the company’s computer system, according to Jesse Ohayon, vice president of recruiting. It also provides in-person training, conducted by Ohayon, which covers such things as the human elements of building relationships and new technology that is coming out. “I’m a big believer in in-person training,” Ohayon says. “That in-person touch is key.”
In a six-month period, roughly 50 people go through the training, Ohayon estimates. The training makes sure they are fully prepared and market experts -- “that they talk the talk and that they feel the company is invested with them,” he says.
The training program is critical for retention, Ohayon says. “People feel that the company is investing in them. There’s value in that. [Whether] they are in Seattle or San Jose, they feel closer to corporate.”
Shadowing a Worker
At Waltham, Mass.-based Winter, Wyman Cos., all newly hired recruiters and account managers participate in an onboarding program that helps them get acclimated to the company and learn the company’s systems, according to Ann Bethoney, supervisor of training. Through the program, the new recruiters and account managers meet with key people in the organization and shadow an experienced person in the organization. The onboarding program is done in-person and online.
As part of the onboarding program, Winter, Wyman pairs new hires with a buddy, someone they can have lunch with and/or use as a resource. “It ends up developing into friendships, relationships down the road,” says Bethoney.
Winter, Wyman also uses the Myers-Briggs test to assess personality types and preferences of both newly hired recruiters and recruiters who have been working for the company for awhile. “Myers Briggs has been such a useful tool to help us get better as an organization and get more cohesive in that team environment,” Bethoney says.
Winter, Wyman has made testing and training a priority. “I don’t think people would be successful if you don’t invest in their development,” Bethoney says. “The more you put in on the front end, the more you’re going to get out on the back end. We want to invest in the people that work at our company. It’s the only way we’re going to be better and be No. 1.”
New recruiters joining Adecco receive 13 weeks of online training, according to Liz Allen, director of content for Adecco NA. The training covers such things as interviewing tips, how to prepare candidates for assignments and how to use social networking.
The new recruiters must pass a test at the end of each online training module. After passing an overall final exam the new recruiters proceed to classroom training. The classroom/in-person training takes place at Adecco’s Melville, N.Y., headquarters when the new recruiter has been with the company for three to six months. It is a three- to four-day workshop with activities and role playing on how to handle specific situations. Adecco uses VoIP to record the role playing.
Recruiters at Adecco also receive on-the-job training, which involves an activity or exercise led by their manager.
It’s good to combine in-person training with Web-based training, Allen says. “You can’t do one without the other. That’s why we strongly believe in the blended approach.”
In the third quarter of 2010, Adecco launched a compliance training program. The training consisted of seven online modules that provided ethics training, legal training and diversity training. Everyone completed their training within six weeks.
The company plans to run the compliance program annually, although the curriculum will vary from year to year based on what the hot topics and issues are. “The compliance training alone gives us confidence our recruiters know legally what they can and cannot do,” says David Adams, VP of learning and development. “They can improve their performance with respect to recruiting.”
Going forward, Adecco is looking at aligning its training program more with performance management and talent management, Adams says. “That will be a big initiative for us. We specifically hired someone to help us achieve this goal.”
Importance of Training
You can’t overemphasize the importance of training. Though many staffing companies, like QPS, test potential recruiters and provide newly hired recruiters -— or all recruiters — with training, there are those that don’t.
Training helps to ensure your recruiters have the tools they need to succeed. By providing recruiters with training, you’re not only helping them to better do their jobs but you’re letting them know that you’re investing in them. Training is a tool that can be used to gauge whether a potential recruiter is going to meet your staffing firm’s qualifications and expectations. An effective training session can reveal many things about a candidate, including interest and abilities, and can help ensure that you’re hiring the right person and reduce the chances of hiring the wrong person.
What Not to Do
One mistake many companies make is that, while they provide training on how to be a recruiter, they forget to include the company’s message, says Jim Lanzalotto, principal of Scanlon.Louis, a Philadelphia-based strategy and marketing outsourcing firm that specializes in driving brand and business growth. “I really believe it’s critical in delivering a service that a company’s brand is delivered every day by the people who are on the front lines,” says Lanzalotto. “All of that stuff has got to be put in place in an appropriate way.”
“It comes down to how a business views the training. Some view it as an expense, while others consider it an investment. The ramification of not training can be devastating. Employees who receive more on-the-job training and tools are going to be happier and more productive. They are going to be more inclined to deliver to our customers and deliver higher customer satisfaction,” says John Elwood of Elwood Staffing.