November 17, 2011

How to Balance Recruitment with Generalist Duties

Recruitment BalanceHR Generalists are typically engaged in many small and medium sized businesses. This is because the HR team is relatively small and if the team were to segment themselves into recruitment or compensation components alone in such an environment, it would severely compromise team flexibility and continuity.

The HR Generalist is therefore an especially challenging multidisciplinary role, in which the incumbent must act as corporate recruiter, reward manager, learning specialists and employee relations expert.  So how can the HR Generalist balance the need to ensure the organization is correctly resourced with all of the required talent while performing all their other important generalist duties?

One of the first areas to consider is the discipline of cross-functional multitasking. Corporate recruiters who also act as generalist need to become effective at multitasking. They should therefore look to acquire training in how to effectively multitask and to prioritize effectively so as to manage the expectations of their users.

Another area to look at is stakeholder/relationship management.  The multi-tasking corporate recruiter will also have a multitude of internal clients and stakeholders who will have many and sometimes conflicting service delivery requirements. Being able to manage relationships and expectations is a core skill that every corporate recruiter who acts as a generalist will need to acquire.  Training and self education in this area is also recommended.

It is not all chaos however, and the corporate recruiter should try to understand the seasonality and patterns to their recruitment cycles, which will enable them to better predict workflow and customer demands and therefore be more responsive. In most businesses, the annual appraisal, career development process, bonus calculation and pay review process happens at a set time each year and often in succession.  Corporate recruiters can therefore try to schedule planned recruitment outside of this quite busy period.  Many managers will be involved in appraising their own teams and may also not be involved in recruitment during this period.

In quiet times, the corporate recruiters can therefore plan and establish all their relationships with online recruiters and agencies so when they are called to recruit, they can quickly press the trigger button, and get the recruitment campaign started. In addition to this, corporate recruiters should be building up their following in social media channels and talent community platforms so that can quickly broadcast vacancies to relevant candidates as they arise. Social networks also allow you to build relationships with qualified passive candidates. A new breed of applications are appearing on Facebook which enable recruiters to develop a fan following but more importantly to be able to contact and search through the fan base in a way that was not previously possible with Facebook. So the message here is to plan in the quiet times, so you can be quick off the blocks when it gets busy.

Another good balancing technique is forward planning. In the same way that it can be predicted when pay reviews and appraisals may occur, recruitment can also be planned.  The best way to do this is for the recruiter to develop a resource plan for the year. This can be achieved by meeting with each department manager, just after budget. The manager will then be able to tell the corporate recruiter what new roles are being recruited in the year and when. The corporate recruiter can then use this data to build their own resource plan for the year.  This will enable them to identify any crunch periods and plan any additional resources.

Of course, some recruitment needs cannot be predicted. This could relate to an employee leaving or suddenly gaining a new contract. It is still possible to plan for these events in some way. By analysing the workforce statistics, it will be possible to establish the company’s annual churn rate, e.g. how many employee leave each year. This will provide an indication of how much unplanned recruitment may occur during the year.  In order to be informed of any new contracts which may emerge which could lead to unplanned recruitment, the corporate recruiter should build strong relationships and have regular meetings with the sales managers or directors.

It is clear that there are a range of techniques that a corporate recruiter can use to balance recruitment demands with that of the other HR generalist demands. These include:

  • Continually developing skills in multi-tasking, prioritization, and stakeholder management
  • Pre-establishing relationships with recruiters and online job sites
  • Understand the HR Generalist calendar and plan recruitment around it where possible
  • Work with managers following budget to develop a time phased annual resource plan
  • Calculate annual churn to understand how much unplanned recruitment there may be
  • Meet regularly with sales directors to be aware of potential new contracts that may need un-planned extra resources.

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Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.