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THE STEVE LEVY SERIES: Recruiting and Finance – A Happy Marriage

Posted on October 20, 2006
Filed Under Sourcing Techniques | 9 Comments

By Steve Levy, Principal
outsideâ– theâ– box Consulting
Talent Acquisition and Organizational Effectiveness Consulting

First In A Series

It may be because I’m a bit more weathered than the average recruiter – looking that is (it might have something to do with being a lifeguard at Jones Beach for 30 years) – but I still take great joy in riding the brick-and-mortar route of recruiting. I do not eschew the Internet as a means of building talent pools (those who know me know that!) but the weathered part of me recognizes from experience how pressing the flesh is so critical in our profession. But flesh pressing needs to be as focused as its electronic brethren – that would mean a plan.

Don’t know why but planning seems to be a dirty word in recruiting. It means thinking and I suspect some believe that thinking causes mind pollution – essentially brain smog that may cloud one’s view. So most recruiters dive right in…

a) Believing that the job description is 100% accurate
b) Posting on job boards
c) Typing few words in Google and wondering why resumes aren’t jumping out
d) Asking questions of others on some of the recruiting Forums (e.g., ERE Groups), typically, “I’ve posted on job boards – now what else can I do?”

Sorry but this isn’t recruiting – it’s order taking. “Would you like some fries with that burger?” Yummy. The recruiter makes the hiring manager feel satiated until the next meal – or complaint.

Actually, it’s because new recruiters haven’t been taught to think. It’s (on the TPR side) “Here’s a phone, here’s a list – start calling” or “(on the Corporate side) “Here’s a list of 56 openings, some have been open 125 days – see what you can do with them.”

In both cases, it’s an “Oh Joy!” response.

There is a plan, there is a solution and it involves three things (there are more but I believe these three constitute the three biggest areas of improvement in recruiting):

a) Recruiting planning by focusing on the business side (who your targets are)
b) Reengineering the job description (which is obsolete the minute it’s published)
c) Brick-and-mortar sourcing (or physically going to association meetings, eavesdropping on conversations in airports, etc.)

In this, the first of three posts, I take great joy (yes, the joy of recruiting is both an obsession and a disease) when starting a search by taking visiting market tools that provide detailed performance data of specific industry verticals. Consider what most recruiters do, they’ll ask about other recruiters which companies are having layoffs and then begin to recruit people from the effected companies- typically focusing on those in outplacement. Wouldn’t it have been better to have been tracking the performance of these companies ahead of time to be both ahead of the downsizing vultures and stand a better chance of landing the A-players?

Having the financial performance measures of focal competitors is key to making this a reality. For instance, one great tool I use is The New York Times’ Interactive Sector Snapshot. When you go here, in honor of El Dave, change the Category to Information Technology then select semiconductors. What you’ll see is something rather amazing – semiconductor companies who are either Leading (upper right) versus the S&P 500, Improving versus the S&P 500 (lower right), Slipping (upper left) versus the S&P 500, or Lagging (lower left) against the S&P 500.

Now click on any bubble in all of the quadrants – you’ll see the weekly performance against the S&P as well as the YTD performance. See the Time Period slider? Play with it to see other Time Periods and the performances of the companies.

The take-home lesson here is that if you’re recruiting in the Semiconductor industry, knowing where companies stand financially is a critical factor in knowing which ones may be good sourcers for talent. Why do I say this? Well, have you ever heard of the saying “like rats abandoning a sinking ship”?

Another thing I do is go to Yahoo Finance and create portfolios for each sector in which I have business. This snapshot can quickly give me targets for any search. For anyone, a page highlighting the financial performance of competitors is great resource. Not to mention several Forbes e-newsletters, MarketWatch bulletins, and a slew of industry email blasts.

Which brings me to a final point – understanding your company’s or client’s financial performance. Obviously when your performance is lagging, people may become dissatisfied and may be “takeover targets.” It’s retention time! When your performance is flying high, this is something you want people outside (the talent pool) to know. It’s recruiting time!

Either way, financial performance should be part of your employment brand and talent acquisition strategy. Otherwise you’re just recruiting blind.

Next post will talk about reengineering job descriptions while working with your hiring managers to develop a more targeted search strategy.

Read El Dave’s post on me if you’re at all interested in me as a person and not a recruiting piece of meat…

Feel free to contact Steve Levy directly

Checkout accounting jobs, UK at


9 Responses to “THE STEVE LEVY SERIES: Recruiting and Finance – A Happy Marriage”

  1. Jeremy Langhans on October 20th, 2006 5:14 pm


    Great post! Maybe because it’s Friday afternoon, but my mind is picturing this:

    A bunch of mangy rats peering over the edge of an old run down sailing ship (read: Pirates of the Caribbean) … and all of a sudden a shiny new Formula racing boat painted in our companies colors & adorned with our logo pulls up along side. Of course this gets the attention of the rats which then start pushing & shoving their way towards us. Since we planned ahead, we made sure our vessel had room for the top 10% of those rats & we hailed them via our megaphone: “Hey rats! We got room for you over here … the swimmers who reach us first and convince us why they should come aboard, WIN!” Of course we speed away (on route to the next sinking ship) with the strongest swimmers, best communicators, & those that were willing to take the plunge. Now that’s ROI on planning & branding … Ahoy!

    Jeremy Langhans

  2. Steve on October 20th, 2006 7:22 pm


    I’m not sure that PETA would appreciate the 90% “not strong enough swimmers” rate but in certain respects, you’re getting closer to a target. If I’m not mistaken, Jack Welch spoke of the top 20% – a number I’m more comfortable with.

    All this requires a recruiting strategy that follows a multitude of variables – and it isn’t easy. We speak so much in our profession of compensation plans, of paying corp recruiters like TPRs without focusing first on the foundation skills that enable recruiting functions to balance the short term objectives with the longer term ones.

    What enables this is business knowledge, plain and simple. So what’s in your wallet?

  3. Glenn Gutmacher on October 21st, 2006 12:18 am

    Solid content as usual, Monsieur Levy! Complete process thinking; specific, tangible resources; and put in a relevant context. It’s always nice to find posts that aren’t regurgitations of other posts. Glad to read on your blog that you’ve landed 3 new gigs. Sorry that my intervention on behalf of one of your attempts didn’t yield anything this time… and to all readers, hope to see many of you at the Kennedy Recruiting Conference in NYC next month!

  4. Robsta' on October 21st, 2006 1:56 pm

    F*** A. Go Levy! In a sea of self promoting bloggers, names sourcers, self appointed inventors of online recruiting and pundits who never recruited a day in their life..thank you for your reality check!

  5. JibberJobber Blog » Blog Archive » Recruiter Techniques and Tricks on October 23rd, 2006 10:22 am

    […] On Dave Mendoza’s blog I came across a post from Steve Levy about common misconceptions that newbie recruiters have about what recruiting is…. and he says he is going to set it straight in 3 posts.  This first post is called “Recruiting planning by focusing on the business side (who your targets are).”  I liked what Steve had to say here because he has specific examples of some tricks recruiters know to manage some of the competitive intelligence that helps them do their jobs better – specifically, knowing what industries and companies are hot, and which are about to (or are tanking). […]

  6. Amanda "Dennis' Protege" on October 24th, 2006 11:04 am

    Steve- you are the Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Mr. Miyagi of Recruiting….only better looking!

    Great advice!

  7. Finance Ideas Couldron » on October 26th, 2006 12:36 pm

    […] THE STEVE LEVY SERIES: Recruiting and <b>Finance</b> A Happy Marriage […]

  8. JimStroud 2.0 on November 1st, 2006 8:13 am

    The Week In Recruiting (Belated Halloween Edition)…

    My Fab15 for the week…

  9. Internet Blog Tag - I’m It. » Confessions of an Executive Restaurant Recruiter on December 20th, 2006 3:38 pm

    […] Steve Levy – an old school recruiter with a great sarcastic wit. I love talking to Steve he is funny as heck. […]