Tuesday, August 4, 2009


What if someone told you that one of your responsibilities as a leader was to seek and recruit talent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year? Not just when you had an opening, but all the time. Even to the extent that you may recruit an individual even when no position exists because you understand a person of this capability and experience does not become available often.

In today’s business environment, this is almost hard to believe, but I had the pleasure to experience such an organization a short while back. It reminded of the time in 1996 when I was refinancing to a lower interest rate and was so impressed with the loan agent that I recruited her to become a pricing analyst in the supply chain management organization.

If you limit your recruiting to the time when you have an opening or in the mood, there are many people you will never notice. Talent is not confined to the Human Resources search process. Some great people have been found in unconventional places.

Do you recruit 24-7-52? Where was the most unconventional place you found a great talent?


Unknown said...

Thanks for this discussion! Great topic! So many companies aren't hiring right now... but respected managers can bring in great candidates if the HR departments are given a good sales pitch! We do our best to teach HR managers to listen to their hiring officials, and hiring officials to motivate their HR deparments! Good Luck everybody!

Keith Sheardown said...

John: Great topic...I call it "passive recruiting" and I do it all day long. It is why half of the names are in my L.I. network - I see someone that has a particular skill set that I will need one day and I invite them in.

Most unconventional place that I found someone? Warehouse workers from Home Depot (I look for very helpful people that understand how to serve). A guy that came in off the street looking for work claiming that he knew Excel - I gave him $60.00 cash for three hours work (he was shocked!) and had him spend the afternoon with one of my teams to see if he could do what he said he could (he still does great work for us 8 years later).

One job that I had was managing Customer Service for a bus manufacturer. We had a call late one day at 5:00 from a Customer that was within a one hour drive and my staff said that they would deal with it tomorrow. I was the new manager and thought that we should do better than that so I drove down and worked with one of my Customer's mechanics until 11:00 that night. I saw his work ethic first hand, we had six hours to get to know each other, and his Company had stuck him on the night shift for 11 years. He was more interested in solving problems than my own staff so I offered him a job on the spot. He turned out to be one of my best!

Not so unconventional but the key is to always think about what someone could do on your team when you see people.


Arne Hansen said...

Hi John,

I spent 14 years for an organization, over time I became a recruiting champion and the external face of the organization. I truely beleived it was a great place to work and was able to paint a complling pictue for others. I was
always on the look-out for people that would fit into the corporate culture.

I never recruited by position, I recruited people and worked with department heads to tailor positions that met their skill set. Putting them in a position to succeed which would lead to the success of the organization.. I recruited people in airports, on a train, hired a bartender and a plumber as salespeoplen even recruited a competitor that brought his entire staff on board.

This market has created some great opportunities to find some very talented unemployed, underpaid or under-appreciated people that could help a any organization.

Tony Noe said...

Great idea and concept, I wish more hiring managers thought like that, much less HR or Upper Management. Their would be a few less of us outside looking in.

Jon Stallings said...

What about cultivating the leadership talent you already have 24-7-52?

Jeffry Smith said...

Good comment. My finance teacher for my MBA introduced me to the concept of continually assessing the value of investments, and always making an investment when you can generate a positive cash flow. This also applies to employees. If a person is great, they will produce more for your company than their salary.

Amy Tiemann said...

You have to recruit constantly. My phrase is 24-7-365. What I like to have is what I call my backpocket people. I learned along time ago in the technology industry in which we had massive demand swings for people to always have people in your backpocket that you could call on a moment's notice when you needed someone. I still practice that today with my construction company, not only for employees, but subcontractors, suppliers, temp labor, etc. My ability to scale up for a project is what sets our company apart from other construction companies. My experience in HR helped me do that. I don't necessarily have an unconventional place, because I don't think that there is such a thing. Church, PTA meetings, networking events, my kids' ball games, etc. anywhere where I can meet people and ask them what they do and see if they can help me is what I do. You have to! Even in this economy with everyone looking for jobs you still need to recruit. You can always find someone to do a job, but that doesn't mean that you found the right person. Be deliberate in your hiring. Be constantly looking. Your hiring process will go much smoother if you do.

Robert Blackburn said...

It's different now since you left. I see great talent become available, but the hiring freeze means that the talent will find a home somewhere else in or out of Boeing before I ever get a shot.

Damian Scattergood said...

Very true - good recruiters will also remember people.
My process is not where, but rather when I made the decision.

The best example of have of this is when I made an offer to a person I had met almost 3 years earlier. We had been purchasing some equipment from Maplins electronics for Hard Drive Recovery. Disaster recovery is a tricky area and you need to have a strong ability to think through tricky problems to come up appropriate solutions. You'd be amazed and some ways we managed to get data.

Most of the store guys just knew the best techie stuff so couldn't help us, but one of the junior guys was interested in our particular problem and came up with an excellent solution for us - something we hadn't thought ourselves. So it showed me he had a) good techie skills, b) people skills c) ingenuity and d) could work on his own. I kept his name and phone number.

3 years later in a different area - the translation business we needed a techie for a localizaton project, that needed to be savvy, an all of the above.

I didn't have to do any hard work on the recruitment front with agencies.
I remember this guy, made the call and the offer.

I've always done this. You meet excellent people every day - you just don't need them now. Everybody has talent - you just need to remember them and when the time is right you can help each other

Damian Scattergood
STAR Translation

Anonymous said...

Do you know anyone personally who does not use HR or recruiters in the initial stages of recruiting? Those who might have the best eye for talent have decided to delegate that opportunity.

Anonymous said...


I've read quite a few of your Leadership blogs and responded a few times on LI related to them. A few thoughts came to mind most every time I read your insights:
1) We think alike
2) Here is a person who "gets it"
3) This is a man who gets big things done, with the right people, and still has the time and foresight to reflect on what he's done and learned - and can do so concisely and to a broad audience - these put together are a difficult and impressive skill.
4) Is he hiring?

And that's it; knowing a good boss is the key to your own growth, success and happiness on the job. While we seem to think alike in a few areas, my experiences has of yet to be as grand or as long-standing, and my roles and authority clearly a bit less. So as I think upon my options in re-entering the traditional workforce, I'm always concerned about my next boss.

To that end, do you know anyone like you, down here in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area (or someone that doesn't mind a remote worker)? If so, I'd certainly like an opportunity to speak to them.

Thanks for your time,

Vickie Schuck said...

John has pointed out what Women in the PTA organizations have known for years. Try running a 140 committees with Fundraising events of $300,000 annually and doing it all with volunteers. No they can't be fired and yet sometimes the "committee chair" has to be replaced. NATO doesn't have more delicate manuvers required of them.

The good news is running a successful and outstanding year helps you achieve and develop strengths to are useful in your professional careers.

Mark Masterson said...

You definitely got my mind going John. I cannot agree more with your comments and while I do not have an instance of an unusual recruiting experience I did want to add a thought.

We are always trying to find the best people for our opportunities which is a natural process, but great success can also be had by taking the best people and finding opportunities for them. In other words, build you teams with the best people that will collectively make the highest performing team as opposed to hiring to task specific skill sets.

Thank you for your posting.

Anonymous said...

Greetings Sir, because of the nature of my business, I try to avoid the public postings, however, your discussion topic is near and dear to my heart.

I do recruit 24-7, and my most off the wall find was a bartender in an Applebees, putting himself through grad school. The gentleman had a natural ability to think through a process, and bring people together to accomplish it. Two months after meeting this guy, I placed him as a Director of Business Development, with a major Aerospace Manufacturer.

Opportunities present themsleves anywhere and everywhere.

As a recruiting professional, I appreciate your view of the process. Many senior leaders leave the recruiting to their HR Departments, Headhunters, etc., becuase that is what they are "paid" to do. What they miss, is as a leader, their involvement in the recruiting process leads to a much more lucrative payment.....Increased sales, production, service, etc.

Take care sir, and good luck in your searches...........

Craig Peters said...

John, it has been some time since I was involved in seeking new talent. But I believe that it is every employee's responsibility to be thinking about whom I have had dealings with either professionally or on a personal basis to be observant of the skills that a person brings to a particular situation.
The same can be said for me and how I present myself and interact during a particular situation. As a mentor, I not only look at the individual's personal compentecies, but also how they handle and apply their skills when something out of the ordinary scope happens.

Mohamed Salah said...

There are persons in life as you've mentioned below, operation director "big boss", he has ability to recruit along 24-7-52 your own rule.

I belive that he deserved get a high package of income that make him stay all hours in all day in all week in all year in the organization.

As you know when apply employee satisfaction, employee provide and make a utmost effort for benefit of business.

Mohamed Salah

Nikhil Joshi said...

It is interesting to read comments from experienced hands on this topic. I am a new engineer.

Phil Cole said...

Hi John,
this has been my experience in the last two companies I worked for (one of which I still do). Interestingly, both companies are suppliers to Sikorsky for software products.
You are 100% correct that good talent is good talent, and surrounding yourself with good talent pays off in more ways than one might imagine.
I am fortunate not to be constrained in the normal manner by only searching for people when there is a firmly defined opening I suppose, but this approach has definitely worked for both of the companies I am talking about.
I think it is especially true in the current climate when many aerospace and defense companies are being forced to downsize, leaving good and experienced people looking for challenging opportunities. Those companies' loss is our gain I suppose.
Hopefully it will continue to work and I will continue to be fortunate enough to be involved.
Good discussion topic.
Phil Cole

Don Lafferty said...

Good stuff, John. Personally, I'm trying to get used to the frequency with which I'm, more and more, finding talent among the friends of my young 20-something children.

After years of being in sales management, I'm accustomed to bumping into talented people at the most unexpected times and I'm always looking for good people, even if it's for somebody else.

I wonder how many people are mindful of the opportunities they're being exposed to, as 24-7-52-minded talent seekers pass through their day-to-day lives. It's worth remembering, no matter what you do, every time you do it, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the standard of excellence to which you aspire.

John Schaeffer said...

In all seriousness, I would like to find the recruiter who is recruiting for the Defense industry 24/7/52. Great topic - while I'm not a recruiter, I'm someone who would like to be recruited, and will be paying close attention to this topic. Thanks for posting this.

Phil said...

I am not a recruiter either. Feel free to send me your resume if you would care to. I'll gladly take a look.
You can send me a request to join my network and that will get you my contact info when I reply. Either that or just send it to colep@embvue.com
if you decide not to, of course I understand and wish you luck with your search.
All the best

Jason Premo said...

John - great article. I'm actually following this advice already with proactive recruiting BEFORE I need it. I'd also be interesting in learning more about your future career interests as well.

I am the CEO of ADEX Machining Technologies, an AS9100/ISO9000 manufacturer of precision machined prototypes, tooling and components, including examples such as rocket components, ballistics tooling, propellant/energetic systems tooling, turbine components, etc.

Now that my company is expanding with a sound infrastructure in place, I'm looking for further business development, project management, and other expertise (specifically in Aero/Defense). Perhaps we could meet during one of my frequent trips to your area for further discussions.

Jason Premo

Derrick Day said...

One of my friends got an interview from a guy he was sitting next to at a bar in an airport while watching a sports game. Just got talking and he got an interview out of it. Not sure if he was currently looking to fill a position or not, but not your normal recuriting situation.

Mervyn Gonsalves said...

John, I liked the term 24-7-52, we normally use this as 24/7/365, the weeks being replaced by the days. Nevertheless, you have touched a serious topic of 'Everbuilding' the team but sadly the same has taken a backseat especially more in the current scenario.

Today just like everyone is engaged on their department optimisation drive, The HR too have come under the scanner of optimimising their plan, the trainees who were one time looked at filling the future growth aspects too are scaled down, abolished in the name of optimisation.

I personally have many example where I have hired/recruited talents which i came across while on job, not only these I have developed a pattern on what I may require in future, kept close contact with the potential talent which I cannot hire immediately(or they cannot come in those times), nurturing the relationship, helping/mentoring them time to time and encashing at the right time (I understand it sounds very selfish, but, no harm ment for the candidate in any circumstances at all). Most of these were found while struggling in the competitive environment or experiencing and learning out of there good gesture (many times your contracted resource).

This has been a very successful style/methodology especially when you work on succession and exponential growths as many times the external factors decide from where your exponential growth begins.

24/7/365 for excellence like one mentioned by you for talent is the responsibility more on the Leaders/Senior Managers etc. than the poor HR dept. They are there more for what you mentioned in your last para.

Hope the comment would make sense to you'll and hope it helps. You can reach me on mervyn_gonsalves@hotmail.com or send me an invite if ou feel right to keep in touch and stay connected.

Mervyn Gonsalves

Diego Biribanti said...

Where do you go for lunch or vacation?
Here in Italy the recruit only against politicians advise! IThere is plenty of talent the are ready to make the difference but there is no room for them....

Anonymous said...

I wish more people thought like you. I have been in the Executive Search industry for over 30 years and when you mention your theory to most, they just don't get it. I am always on the lookout for better talent , That is wether I have a search that applies or not. I believe , like you , that there is always someone more qualified out there. I hope we can work together in the future.

Robert Fisher said...

I do not think the focus should be on recruiting, rather attracting people to us by how we act and represent our respective firms all the time. Volunteering for events that help the community is a place to shine and find those diamonds that need our sunlight.
The newest place I see is networks like LinkedIn and blogs like this where we get a chance to know a person for their thoughts and ethics however, I stil firmly believe in face to face coffee meetings.

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