A few years ago as I was walking thru a clients recruiting department I came across Mike, a young bright recruiter who had recently been hired. As we spoke Mike told me had gotten word a few days ago to recruit 30 new senior sales people ASAP. Word was from the top that without these resources the company would miss out on some major opportunities as our competitors ate our market share.
Mike was worried that on top of his regular heavy workload of sales and marketing positions to fill he now had this to deal with. Already sales executives had been calling him asking to see candidates. I asked him how he was approaching the new assignment. Mike said he was overwhelmed and he had been posting on various internet sale boards and also had started calling his sales network for referrals. Pretty typical of a recruiter who is dealing with req’s on a one on one basis. A recipe for disaster.
After listening to Mike go on for a while about his impossible task, I told him that this was a great opportunity to look like a hero and to help elevate his status in his new company. He just looked at me like a deer in the headlights before he cleared his throat and asked me why I thought that.Well, since most of the sales opportunities are similar as far as skills and competencies and all the requirements are urgent, it’s an excellent opportunity to involve the sales organization as well as a lot of other corporate organizations. This is a project I said.
Mike said he was a recruiter not a project manager, he knew nothing about project management software, Gant charts and timelines, etc.. No I re-assured him, you do not have to be a certified project manager to be great at starting and closing key recruitment projects. Here in short is what I told him.
- Engage the big guy. The sales executive who has everything to lose, he or she is your project executive.
- Ask him or her for what you need, money, support, signing bonuses, stock options, communication, team calls on a weekly basis, etc..
- Set up a one page project plan, that includes the above, the hiring target broken down by key managers (Keep this at a high level), timeframes and deadlines, high level strategy, key actions tied to strategy, expected outcomes, etc.. and then a project status update, Red – Green or Yellow so you can flag status to the team.
- Give the project a name. This will create it’s own brand and create a unique focus. In the past I have projects called Overlord, Startdust, TurtleShell and Mickey Mouse.
- As project manager you will decide with the executive sponsor how often you need to communicate updates, daily, weekly or monthly. Initially I told Mike that its great to send them fairly frequently as you will have managers that dilly-dally and recruiters who wont’ take you seriously. In many larger projects, you can have many recruiters with separate goals (I had some in the past with over 40 recruiters on a given project.
- Once you have got this one pager together engage other needed corporate players, human resources, public relations, advertising, IT, Finance, etc for project requirements like branding, collateral, web site changes, stock options. Believe me when I say, they may not have called you back when you were just a lowly recruiter (tongue in cheek) but with the sales executive and the success of the company partly in your hands, phone calls and support should come easily. If not wait till your next update.
The key once you get moving I told Mike is to keep updating your one pager and emailing updates to your sponsors and asking for what you need. Your not alone in a project as the key executive has even more to lose than you. Partner with the executives and the needs of the business and you are on the right track to success. In all my years of corporate recruitment, project managing larger initiatives has been the biggest bang for my buck. Success is almost guaranteed as long as you stick to the initial game plan.
And what happened to Mike? Mike had a bit of a rough start but after some mentoring and my attending a couple of meetings with the key sales executive and his team, the project really ramped up and within 45 days, all requisitions were closed. To this day, Mike and the sales executive are still very close and Mike is now heading the recruiting department.
If you would like to receive my simple template, send me an email at email@example.com and I will gladly pass it on free of charge.