Progressive organizations are recognizing that traditional recruiting methods actually make it hard to recruit top talent. Instead they are having success by breaking the old processes
and replacing them with a higher level of interactions than their competitors.
By David Nour and Rodney Moses
Most companies talk at potential college campus hires. “We’re the leader in…” “We need talented employees who…” “Our goal is to grow…”
That’s not the right way to attract the best people. Instead, you should be starting actual two-way conversations. Yes, as in two people talking back-and-forth, with both sides listening.
We worked together several years ago when Rodney was VP of Global Recruitment at Hilton Worldwide and he introduced David to the HR director responsible for Hilton’s campus recruiting efforts. To support its growth, Hilton needs a continuous supply of talent and is especially interested in attracting young workers to connect with their millennial customers.
At the time, Hilton was using a traditional campus recruiting approach, which meant that they showed up on campus and pushed – let’s be honest – propaganda at students. Yes, Hilton was literally bragging about being the first hotel brand with color TVs and room service.
Just imagine that you are a college student listening to this stuff. You’d probably be thinking, “Man, these guys are dinosaurs.”
Over the next nine months, David and Rod and his team worked on creating a dramatically different approach.
The result was Hilton’s Campus Conversations program, designed to create and foster conversations with students over the course of their four-year university experience.
Yes, we jettisoned the idea of arriving on campus late in a student’s time there, and simply giving a presentation and holding interviews. That, we decided, was too little too late. Part of this was because we had several strategic disadvantages versus our competitors:
- Hilton was on 70% fewer campuses than Marriott
- We had 82% fewer intern and MDFP hires than Marriott
- We had 25% fewer MDP placements than Starwood
To start a genuine and rich conversation, you have to know a bit about the other person, so we started by understanding the journey students take as they move from being a freshman to a senior:
This step alone changed our mindset. Our focus shifted to the interests and concerns of the talent we wanted to hire, rather than simply on what mattered most to Hilton. Yes, we needed and wanted to hire top talent… but the path to doing that was in shifting our focus.
In our next article, we are going to share three steps we used to conceptualize and develop this program, but today we want to make the case to global talent and human resources executives that this shift is essential to recruiting top talent.
Think about the most competitive job markets, the ones in which the people you want to hire are already happily employed and earning top salaries. They spend their days avoiding calls from recruiters. A phone pitch will never win them over.
Instead, you need to start a conversation. To do this successfully, you probably will need to engage top-level executives to have one-on-one conversations about what matters most to each person.
Wait a minute… this is not how recruiting works, right?
Right… but that’s why it’s so hard to recruit top talent. You need to break the old processes and replace them with a higher level of interactions than any of your competitors utilize.
The beautiful thing about genuine conversations is that you learn. A “prospective hire” turns into a living, breathing human being with specific skills, interests, and knowledge. Once trust exists, s/he will literally tell you what it will take to establish a longstanding relationship.
This, unfortunately, is something many companies have lost. In the interest of speed and scale, they adopt assembly line-like processes created one hundred years ago. These processes are no more relevant today than a Hilton statement that “we were the first to put color TVs in our rooms”.
To be successful, adopt this as your recruiting mantra: Start genuine conversations with top talent.