A view on internal technical recruitment, the other side of the fence, in HR


"Now beginning my fourth year of employment at DisplayLink as their Technical Recruitment Manager, it was time to reflect again on what I had learnt since moving from a recruitment agency to 'the other side of the fence'. What makes internal recruitment successful?" writes Lewis Turner.

A lot has happened in the world, both in industry generally and in the semiconductor sector. We are all still recovering from the fun and games of 2008; the nerves are still there for the ‘double dip’ possibility.

DisplayLink has managed to stay on track and continues to grow, both in sales and in staff; however, the need to reduce costs even further in recruitment and other areas has, of course, been increased due to the business environment we all found ourselves in.

Building the ability to report on costs into the recruitment process has driven home certain points.

Normally hidden costs, such as interviewers’ time, are now tracked. When we schedule interviews, we keep track of the time allocated to telephone and face to face interviewing; also administrative costs (time to set up the interview, a portion of my salary per role, costs of generating offer paperwork). Now add the cost of travel and accommodation expenses for interviewees. You can get a reasonable ball park figure of the cost of recruitment per candidate and per hire. You can then monitor this and address the big numbers, and watch trends.

Doing the above really drives home the importance of quality. To minimise the cost, you really want to interview as few people as possible for each role. Your ratio of interview to hire needs to be exceptional.

You can do so much to improve the quality of CVs; better, clearer job specifications, for example. What I personally learned here, though, was the importance of word of mouth. I looked at where we sourced the last 14 hires for the Cambridge office from. Everyone was either head hunted or a referral from a colleague or a friendly contact. This meant we had pre-qualified candidates. In turn this meant that the interview to hire ratio has been kept minimal, and therefore very little wasted hiring manager time, interviewee travel and accommodation costs, admin costs - you get the picture. Quality in, quality out, little wastage.

How do we manage this? I joined DisplayLink as they had an exceptional culture built over a number of years by an outstanding HR director. Part of my role has been to maintain this, and make use of this culture for recruitment.
My colleagues are all an extension of the recruitment process. Yes, I head hunt and bring people in; however, two thirds are brought in by my colleagues. It’s now a way of thinking. Makes my role far easier as my colleagues are doing a good chunk of the work for me.

What about agency fees, you may be asking? Well, with the whole company assisting, this hasn’t actually been a cost for the Cambridge office for a couple of years. I’m not anti agency as a lot of people may think; we do use agencies for specific positions on occasion for specific reasons. They are niche agencies, honest and more a partner in business.

My summary therefore is, for internal recruitment to work, you can’t work alone. You need your colleagues to buy into the process. Understand the reasons for good hires. Understand the importance of recruiting within time-scales. Use your best staff to do the interviewing, and train them. Once you have the team on your side helping you, you can help them.

Information on Lewis Turner can be found at http://www.linkedin.com/in/lewisturner

Information on DisplayLink can be found at http://www.displaylink.com 

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DisplayLink is a fabless network graphics semiconductor and software company, formed in 2003 to develop and exploit methods of delivering content to multiple flat panel displays from a single computer with the view that this technology could lower the costs of computing and thus make information technology much more widely available in developing countries.