How to Build a Better Recruiting Process

Reginald Barefield, the interim HR director for Humana, talks about recruitment as a strategic business function.

Workforce talked with Reginald Barefield, who’s the interim HR director for Humana, about recruitment as a strategic business function.

Your recruiting infrastructure incorporates leading-edge technology. How large a part do you believe technology plays in today’s recruiting process?
Technology helps you move more swiftly and helps reduce your costs—but it’s not the Holy Grail. If you don’t have the recruiters or the recruiting organization of people—who have the right mindset of how to use technology, how to make the behavioral changes necessary and how to track productivity standards—you’re going to fail.

What’s the biggest mistake you see companies make in terms of using technology for their recruitment?
They house all the resumes in a system, but then hire individuals already in their database through search firms. The recruiters or HR people just don’t have the time to search the databases.

How does a company remedy this?
You need an infrastructure in place. I built the technology to generate leads and import them into the database because I don’t want recruiters to have to spend time surfing the Internet. And then I have recruitment coordinators who support the recruiters by making travel arrangements, conducting background checks and drug screens and so on. It’s all how you structure your organization. And then you put some performance standards in place to manage the recruiters, manage the recruitment coordinators who support them and hold them accountable.

Other than having the proper recruiting infrastructure in place, what else is critical to improve the recruiting process?
I look at recruiting as a sales and marketing function. The recruiters’ product is the company. To sell the company, they need the culture, the environment, the HR practices, the leadership training and all of those things being conducive to attracting people to the organization.

How can recruiters work with other areas of HR to ensure the culture is what it should be?
Recruiters keep abreast of what’s going on at other companies because they’re looking into why it’s more difficult to recruit people from particular organizations than others. So we can be the deliverers of ideas and suggestions of how to retain more people.

How important is having dedicated recruiters today?
Oh, it’s a must. Yesterday, when unemployment was high, most organizations didn’t have recruiting specialists; it wasn’t necessary. They had lots of applicants walking through the door. Those days are gone. Today, you’re lucky to get two qualified candidates apply. So companies have to go back and assess and audit their current processes. Can an HR generalist really do it? No. They have to build a staffing organization that solely concentrates on staffing. If they don’t, they will need to rely on search firms at a higher cost. Smart companies today have recruiting teams proactively recruiting within a timely manner.

Workforce, March 1999, Vol. 78, No. 3, p. 40.