The New Hire
The Retainee (a Retained employee)
Let's take a brief look at each of them.
Often called a "passive job seeker," this individual is not a job seeker at all. They don't come to employers; employers have to go after them. Equally as important, employers have to convince them to go from the devil they know -- their current organization, boss, and commute -- to the devil they don't know -- a different organization, boss, and commute. Making that case requires a lot of persuasion, and that persuasion, in turn, takes time. The keys to success during this stage of the talent life cycle, therefore, are timing and continuity. Employers have to begin early with individuals who are likely to become great candidates, and they have to work on those prospects without let-up until they actually do.
The talent life cycle focuses on prospects to build inventory; it focuses on candidates to fill specific openings. To access the best candidates, however, organizations must devise a recruiting process that has a single, compelling outcome: it must create an expectation that comes true. First, the recruiting process must cause organizations to develop and project a brand with the power to attract top active job seekers and passive prospects and, then, that same process must produce behaviors, information flows and interactions that make the brand real and credible. Talent is transformed from prospect to candidate by offering a better employment experience, but since it's impossible to sample employment before it happens, the recruiting process becomes a surrogate for that experience. In other words, the better the process, the better an employer's chances of accessing the best candidates for its openings.
The New Hire
Most organizations end their recruitment process with a candidate's acceptance of their offer. For top talent, however, the process must continue in two phases: phase one covers the time between offer acceptance and the first day of work, and phase two includes all of the activities typically associated with onboarding. Phase one is critical because most of the best candidates will be working, so they will have to give notice after accepting an offer. During that two-to-four week period, they are especially vulnerable to a counteroffer from their current employer and better offers from other recruiters. For that reason, employers must stay in touch with and keep selling new hires until they actually walk in the door. And that's when phase two begins. Employers have only one chance to make a great first impression with a new hire, and that first impression will color both their performance and their retention for a very long time. As a consequence, the onboarding process must be as thoughtfully designed and executed as the recruiting process, and it must achieve the same goal: it must make the new hire's expectation (of their new employer) come true.
While the old adage -- people join organizations and leave supervisors --remains a fact of life in most enterprises, it is not an excuse for abandoning employees to lousy leadership. Indeed, I believe it is the job of recruiters to teach hiring managers how to be CROs or chief retention officers. Why? Because high attrition rates seldom get laid at the doorstep of managers; they get dropped at the feet of the HR department, in general, and recruiters, in particular. Recruiters, however, have very little influence over the actions of new employees after the first 100 days of employment; at that point, their supervisor's behavior plays the predominant role. So, it's in recruiters' (and their organizations') best interests to ensure that the supervisor's behavior is all that it can and should be. Ironically, that involves two of the key functions that recruiters perform all of the time: assessment and selling. In other words, recruiters have to teach supervisor's how to assess what will make an individual feel challenged and motivated in their work and how to sell the organization's (and their) commitment to delivering that opportunity on-the-job.
With some notable exceptions, most organizations still ignore their former employees. Whether it's the lingering effect of a 1950's view of employee loyalty or simply a lack of resources, they source far and wide for unknown prospects and avoid a pool of prospects they know very well: their alumni who are working for other organizations (including their competitors). In today's world of work, however, people will move from organization-to-organization to optimize their opportunity for growth and advancement. In some respects, these departing employees are exactly the kind of talent employers most want to hire: they take personal responsibility for their own development. For that reason, an organization's recruiting strategy should also include maintaining contact and nurturing relationships with alumni, so that -- after they have been honed into more capable prospects elsewhere -- it can recruit them back into its organization.
What's readily apparent about this life cycle strategy is that it's simple, obvious and, sadly, often ignored. While there will always be circumstances that demand ad hoc responses to staffing requirements, recruiting is most successful when it's planned and executed according to a carefully defined and comprehensive strategy -- a strategy that provides a genuine and sustainable competitive advantage