Estis Shares Formula for 'Rock Star' Recruiting

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SAN DIEGO—The work recruiters do post-recession is going to look much different than the work they did before the recession, and companies’ people strategies will be the key component to defining their success and profitability for the next 10 to 20 years.

So now’s the time for staffing professionals to step up their games and become “recruiting rock stars,” said business performance expert Ryan Estis during his April 12 keynote address here at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2011 Talent & Staffing Management Conference & Exposition.

“Talent mistakes cost companies a lot of money, but 70 percent of companies have weak talent pipelines,” said Estis, formerly an executive with a global advertising agency. Estis noted that only about 20 percent of employees are the right fit for their jobs, which is “why approximately 65 percent of [companies’] employees remain disengaged.”

But HR can rule the workforce, he said, by inserting itself where the company is and employing “rock star recruiting” techniques to acquire the talent the company needs to take it where it needs to go.

DNA of a Rock Star Recruiter

Recruiting is all about sales and marketing, so recruiters need to build their business acumen in these subject areas, he said. But rock star recruiting is also about engagement and the ability to build relationships within and outside the organization.

“Rock star recruiters are a little reckless in bringing in talent,” Estis said. “They have the ability to engage and create a vision of experience that the right [job candidates] opt in to.”

Estis cited several corporate examples of how “culture talk” is used to get the right people to opt in to joining a company. The first line of all Apple job descriptions, for example, states, “Changing the world is all in a day’s work at Apple.” Estis said Steve Jobs is a master at using the power of storytelling to speak to employees. “He says to be great at what you do, you have to love what you do and love doing it for us.”

Intel has realized that its competitive advantage is not its technology but its talent, Estis said, citing its “Our Rock Stars Are Not Like Your Rock Stars” ad campaign. “You can even go to [the company’s] website and meet the company’s rock stars.

“How are you telling your culture story, who is listening to it, and who else is helping you tell your story?” he asked the audience.  “Recruiting is a competitive sport, but it’s also a team sport. It takes a lot of tools and technology to support rock star recruiting, but only good recruiting from good recruiters closes candidates.”

Rock star recruiters are like ninja warriors, Estis said, only half-joking. “They’re more quiet and very prepared for interviews with candidates,” always asking  candidates “what they do, where they do it, why they do it, how they do it, and proving to them that they can help them do it better” at their organization.

They make recruiting all about the candidate, not the company, Estis said. “A-players don’t care about you; they care about themselves. What kind of talent are you prepared to hire?”

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.