Jennifer called recently and asked a variation of a question I get a lot. She asked, “What recruiting model is the most efficient, produces the best candidates and is scalable as we grow?”

What I explained to her is outlined in the “cliff notes” below following a brief discussion to better understand her current recruiting efforts as well as future hiring plans.

I described a highly efficient business process that’s already in place hiding in plain sight within most organizations. It’s exceptionally well-suited for adopting as a framework upon which she can built a highly functional recruiting process…and something that works better than most current recruiting processes.

Let me explain what it is, how it can be adopted and list 5 reasons listed below that Jennifer thought made it worthy of her serious consideration.

Keep in mind that Jennifer and I were talking about a FRAMEWORK upon which a final recruiting process could be built.

The framework I described can be found in how an astute organizations makes important, major purchasing decisions using a defined RFP (Request for Proposal) process as described below.

I content that hiring is a buying process. When money changes hands, as in the case of work in exchange for pay, you have a purchasing decision.  The candidate is the vendor and the employer is the buyer. Simply put, the employer is willing to purchase the time, talent and performance of an individual based on a defined payment process.

Now, before you tell me that I’ve left the “human element” out of this important business decision, take a breath and read further.

Let’s draw a parallel, then take a look at the obvious advantages by comparing four typical RFP Stages.

Stage #1 – Defining the Need

Defining the RFP Need: An RFP is an authorized document that describes the outcome / result the buyer is looking to achieve from a purchase of goods and/or services. For example, that could be consulting services, software and/or other raw, unfinished or finished products. The buyer expectations are clearly defined within the RFP document. Care is taken by the buyer to include everything that is desired to achieve with the purchase. Specifications for product and/or services performance are clearly spelled out along with steps for purchasing and implementation.

Defining the Job Requirements: The hiring equivalent of an RFP is an authorized employee requisition. The requisition should include a performance-based job description that clearly defines what on-the-job success looks like. It is NOT a typical job hiring spec. Instead, this document will focus on the key deliverables expected from the person taking the job. This usually has 5 to 8 key performance objectives, some of which will have sub objectives.

They will be written in SMARTe format (ask me for an example). This is a completely transparent document with no hidden agendas. Everything is clearly spelled out. Important projects, working conditions and culture are incorporated. Great care is given to prevent any surprise on the part of the person that is eventually hired.

Comment: Most employers use dull, uninspiring job descriptions that are long on skills, and short on spelling out what the real expectations of the job are. Having skills doesn’t necessarily reflect outstanding on-the-job performance. It’s what you DO with skills that matter; so define performance and the right combination of skills are included by default. This is a critical paradigm shift that will positively impact the rest of the recruiting and hiring process.

Equally important, a performance job description will create an outstanding framework for crafting a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) message that can be used for ads, emails, verbal discussions, etc. That’s something that a typical job description cannot do well.

Stage #2 – Issuing the RFP

Potential RFP Vendors Review the RFP: Every potential vendor being invited to submit a proposal on the RFP is given a copy of the RFP document. Vendors utilize the details within this document to digest every requirement, expectations from the buyer and from that consider their capabilities to meet the buyer’s need. From that, vendors prepare to meet with the buyer, discuss their capabilities, and get their questions answered. It’s important to note that the RFP document is provided to prospective vendors BEFORE detailed discussions ever begin. This makes for a more effective process and avoids wasting time.

Potential Candidates Review the Performance Job Description:  Every potential candidates being invited to discuss the opportunity is given a copy of the performance-based job description. This provides an opportunity for the prospective candidate to reflect on how their experience, skills and accomplishments match the SPECIFIC NEEDS of the job. The job post/ad would be built from this document for consistent messaging.

Ideally the detailed performance job description would be provided to a candidate BEFORE a phone or in-person discussions begins. It will be congruent with a job post if the candidate is located in that manner. Candidates will then be in a much better position to provide their best matching expertise and ask better questions in order to contribute to an effective hiring discussion.

Comments: The goal is to provide the candidate with exactly what the job entails, what is expected from them, and what it will take to be successful on the job. This could be done BEFORE a phone or in-person discussion. There are no hidden agendas, or unspoken circumstances involved. This allows the candidate to showcase their most relevant experience and expertise for best match.

Stage #3 – Assessing the Match

RFP Assessment Strategy: Vendors chosen for final consideration are selected from their response to the RFP and meet with the buyer and engage in a business discussion around the detailed RFP requirements. Discussions are comprehensive, and every attempt is made by buyer and vendor to cover all aspects of the RFP requirements and correlate that with the vendor’s capabilities. Using the RFP information along with data obtained during the meeting with the buyer, they have enough information about the buyer’s needs to be able to craft their written response showcasing why they should be chosen.

Candidate Assessment Strategy: Candidates selected from their resume, LinkedIn profile and/or referral recommendation begin discussions with the employer, often starting with a phone call. The most productive method is thinking of the exchange as a BUSINESS DISCUSSION not an interview. That is, adopt the RFP approach. There are no trick interview questions. Generic behavioral interview questions aren’t used. Instead, a specific question format is used. (Ask me what that is). Everything is above board. The discussion is a give and take about the needs of the job, performance expectations and how well the candidate’s capabilities match.

Comments: Interviews often seem like interrogations with important information never revealed to the candidate. Employers fear candidates “knowing the answers” to interview questions with leads to a game of “cat and mouse” vs. being open with the candidate. This openness, along with good interview technique will also encourage the candidate to be forthcoming with the employer. Fear of giving information to candidates so they can give “canned answers” and other related fears and practices are total rubbish and have no place in a hiring decision. In fact, you should work very hard to provide the candidate with as much accurate information about the job as possible BEFORE the interview, just like you would in the RFP process. If you fear of the candidate “knowing the answers,” you have an interviewing problem, and that’s the subject of future article.

Stage #4 – Buying Decision Time

Vendor Buying Decision: The vendor responds to the RFP with substantial detail about their capabilities, how they will deliver the expected results and what the cost/fee structure will be. This puts the buyer into an analysis posture that may include further discussions, clarifications until they have obtained all relevant information required to make an informed buying decision. Care is given to how well buyer and seller and their respective teams will work together; going beyond sheer technical capabilities to include the “people element” as well.

Employer Hiring Decision: Hiring managers engage in a business discussion that ensures everyone on the hiring team as well as the candidate are clear about on-the-job performance expectations. A business hiring discussion is a give and take conversation with questions being asked and answered by both sides. It’s never one-sided on the part of the employer. Care is given to the human side along with the organizational culture. Important team members and other areas of the organization relevant to this role are explored in-depth. Hiring manager, recruiter and candidate all gather business information, including compensation considerations, to determine if an offer will be made and/or if an offer will be accepted. This is done regardless of whether the role is permanent or contract.

Comments: Beginning with the first day of employment, the new hire’s work should be an accurate reflection of the performance-based job description with no surprises. The hiring manager should never feel like, “you’re not the person I hired” and the new employee should never feel like “this isn’t the job I was hired to do.” Bottom line, there should not be any surprises on either side of this purchasing decision.

Ensuring the Human Element

Stop interviewing and start having business hiring discussions. Create a recruiting framework that will allow you to build on a performance-based job description.

Make the mental paradigm shift to the understanding that you’re making a purchasing decision. And…that doesn’t mean it has to abandon the “warm and fuzzy” human side of this business decision.

Many times vendors become trusted, long-time business partners with their customers. Their respective employees frequently form professional relationships that last for a career. Just because they’re a vendor doesn’t mean they’re in an adversarial relationship.

5 Reasons to Consider an RFP Framework

After a discussion with Jennifer, here’s what she thought would be the top reasons to consider an RFP framework recruiting approach. There are others, but here’s what she came away with.

  1. Performance-based job descriptions provide a more realistic picture of what on-the-job success looks like. This prevents surprises from both hiring manager and new employee.
  2. Performance-based job descriptions create the foundation for a compelling EVP (Employee Value Proposition).
  3. A compelling EVP can be utilized in creating a variety of more compelling candidate messaging to include emails, voice mails, job posts/ads, career site information, and verbal discussions with prospective candidates.
  4. Interviewing accuracy can be greatly enhanced by adopting a business discussion format that includes the ability to use two basic questions in combination with one technique to get laser focused detail that will lead to better hiring decisions. And it gets past the “knowing the interview question” concern. (Contact me for the question format).
  5. The ability to close more top candidates on your opportunity when the candidate moves through an RFP hiring process. Reasons include a more natural business discussion, a clearer understanding of the opportunity, an higher level of emotional attachment due to use of the EVP that often leads to more of a focus on the opportunity and less on the pay.

Want to see what a true performance-based job description looks like? Send me an email and I’ll provide you with an example or even arrange to help you create a performance-based job description for your open jobs…no fee, no obligation.

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