26th August 2019

The Recruitment Strategy Type Indicator

Since the dawn of time, we have found ways to describe and categorise people. From the four temperaments of the Ancient civilizations – sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic – to the latest advances in behavioural psychology, there’s a constant quest to explain people, their preferences and likely behaviour in a simple yet robust model.

Just as people have ‘types’ based on preferences, so does your organisation’s approach to the recruitment of people. To this end we’ve developed the Recruitment Strategy Type Indicator or RSTI to help. With just two questions we can categorise your organisation’s preferred approach to recruitment. From this, we can help you do what you are doing better and, as importantly, think about how you might flex your approach to improve your processes and recruitment performance.

Before we get into the diagnosis, it is important to note that your organisation’s recruitment ‘type’ is just like a personality type, Its an indicator of preferences, not a measure of skill or performance. An example,  I might prefer golf to tennis, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good at golf.  And, as the RSTI is based on just two questions, it is not overly complex. Nonetheless, the RSTI will be a helpful tool in your recruitment strategy including planning, execution and evaluation. More on that later.

When you first answer the diagnosis questions, don’t worry about degrees on a scale, just put yourself at one of the two ends of the scale when you respond.

The first question revolves around the orientation of your recruitment activity. Is your organisation more reactive or proactive in its approach to recruitment? Think of this first question as the Y axis. If, more often than not, you recruit for a role when someone has left or is planning to leave, put yourself on the at the bottom end of the scale. If you are in the market for talent all the time and will hire great people just to get them on board, put yourself at the top end of the scale.

The second question is focussed on how you measure the success of your recruitment process and outcomes. Are you more focused on cost and efficiency or standards and quality? Think of this as the X axis. Put yourself at the left end of the scale if the primary measures of your process and outcomes are KPIs like cost per hire, time to fill etc. Put yourself at the right end of the scale if the primary measures of your process and outcomes are standards-based like e.g. number above our benchmark, capability, education, increasing bench strength, etc.

Based on the answers to these two questions you will be one of four Recruitment Strategy Types.

The Accountant:  Headcount is critical, strict governance and controls are in place around cost and process via PSAs, RPOs etc. The measures of performance we look at first and most often are things like cost per hire and time to fill. For this strategy type recruitment is a transaction, our process is well defined and we require it to be followed to ensure the outcome is delivered on time and on budget.  

This strategy type works best where your organisation has a strong employment proposition and there is a good supply of skilled people in the market.

The Trader: We are always in the market for people and we need to keep an eye on all our costs. We are constantly on the lookout for talent, engaging with our network of contacts and those recruiters we trust, to get a ‘deal’ on a great person at a good price.  

This strategy type works best in organisations that are highly reliant on people capability, have some cost constraints, but have to and are willing to move fast to secure the best talent when they are available.

The Surgeon:  We need to be regarded as the best organisation in our industry so when we recruit we only want the best. We can’t afford to make hiring mistakes so we’re prepared to spend the time and money until we find the right person. 

This strategy type works well in organisations staffed with specialists who tend to hold long tenure in positions and/or where there is a very limited supply of talent with the right skills.

The Investor: Our business can only grow through people and we are always in the market for great talent. We are willing to tolerate some extra expense in recruiting and the odd hiring fail rather than face the opportunity cost of not securing and developing new business.  

This strategy type works well in organisations with profitable and/or high growth outlook and where there is high competition for the best talent.

Not sure if you’ve got it right? To confirm your strategy type look at the type diagonally opposite to yours, if that sounds nothing like your organisation’s most common approach, then you’ve probably got it right.

So, now that we know our organisation’s recruitment strategy type, what do we do?

First things first, just as in ‘people-type’ theory, there is no right or wrong recruitment type. All four types have strengths and weaknesses. In the first instance, the HR organisation (including the Talent Acquisition specialists) need to get together and talk about strategy type and current recruitment performance. Key questions to discuss include: Is this our type? Is this what we need? What strengths about our type do we need to enhance? If it’s a big organisation the question also becomes Do we need to have a different recruitment strategy type for certain divisions or functions?

The next step is to ensure the rest of the organisation is aligned with the recruitment strategy type and accepts the consequences of the type as well as the upside. Depending on your organisation this might be easier said than done. An example would be, The Accountant Organisation with ‘rogue Managers’ who want to hire ‘off panel’ or Investor Organisation with ‘rogue Managers’ who refuse to commit to the time and money to engage in an extensive executive search to get the best person.

Finally, it is important to align with your suppliers. Quality suppliers will be able to respond to your type and therefore your strategy, and, if they are quality suppliers and they can’t work to your type, they will say so.

Should we change or flex our approach to recruitment strategy?

The answer is, “it depends”. Big organisations are essentially lots of little organisations put together and one size will not fit all. Therefore, organisations need to learn how to flex their style when the time comes.

In ‘people-type’ theory, if we want to be able to flex to become better we need to look at our opposite type and explore that domain e.g. someone who prefers facts and details might explore what it means to leverage their intuition or gut feel. Using our model as an example, an Accountant type organisation might, for example, have to ask what it would take for us to bring on people when there isn’t a vacancy. Whereas an Investor type might have to ask whether they going to be able to stick to a recruitment budget or deal with the loss of freedom that comes with a Preferred Supplier Agreement.

In Summary

Hopefully we’ve introduced you to a handy tool that will cause you to take the time for a “stop and think” on your strategy for bringing talent into your organisation. It’s not a complex tool but, then again, recruitment is not a complex activity. However, doing recruitment well is hard. So it pays to take the time to think strategically about how your organisation should go about it.

What’s your organisation’s Recruitment Type? Do you stick to a particular strategy type or have you learned to flex? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Or, get in touch to find out more about our Talent Acquisition Diagnostic, a simple survey tool to get insights from your key stakeholders on what’s working and what could be improved in your approach to talent acquisition.

Justin Miles

Justin Miles

Manager Partner, Melbourne at Generator Talent
Justin is the Managing Partner of our Melbourne office, an outcome focused leader with a track record of driving business performance through proven talent and organisation development practices. Justin’s methods and skills have been shaped by working with performance oriented leaders in great companies including PepsiCo, The Campbell Soup Company, Diageo, Rip Curl, Fonterra and Wesfarmers, in Australia, the USA and Latin America.
Justin Miles

Categories: Finding Talent

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