Connecting CLOs With the Recruiting Process

Recruiting new employees involves workforce planning, attracting new employees and getting new faces oriented to their work environment. CLOs can be valuable partners to human resources, every step of the way.

Silos within the human capital management process continue to converge, and learning executives serve as essential linchpins. Performance and learning have come closer together, and we have seen continued blending of learning and compensation. Learning, along with career and succession planning, continues to grow — but what about learning and recruiting?

The recruiting process can be divided into three distinct components: workforce planning, attracting the workforce and on-boarding the workforce. Each of these has a distinct process that CLOs and learning organizations should be involved with every step of the way.

Workforce Planning
Workforce planning is the human capital management component that is most often overlooked. It is usually in the back of someone’s mind, but often is not practiced, or is only in place to execute on a strategy. Organizations should review some key workforce planning components, including the organization’s strategic growth plans, entry into new lines of business, workforce demographics, aging of the workforce, new skills that will be needed in the future and globalization.

Each of these issues has a key impact on the CLO. The CLO has the opportunity to change the mindset of the organization, and can have a key impact on lowering recruiting costs and offering employees new growth and opportunities that may not have been visible before. While recruiting organizations have been pointed outward in the past, learning organizations are pointed inward, toward the organization’s most valuable asset — the people. And this asset is quickly depleting. Some statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • By 2013, available jobs will outnumber workers by 6.7 million.
  • By 2030, available jobs will outnumber workers by 30 million.
  • By 2013, 40 percent of available jobs will be professional or managerial, where additional training and upgrading of skill sets is required.

As the war for talent and workforce shortages continue to escalate, it will be more important than ever for the CLO and the recruiter to collaborate and develop plans to search internally for skills and competencies needed to retain the organization’s competitive advantage. Questions that need to be addressed by the recruiting organization and the CLO include:

  • What skills and competencies exist in the organization today?
  • How could people be shifted from one job to another to fill key strategic roles?
  • What learning could be deployed to raise the skill sets of the workforce for projected future jobs?
  • Who are the future stars? Do their career and development plans ensure that they will be ready for needed jobs at the right time?

Long-term planning on human capital deployment is crucial for organizations to gain competitive edge. When talent was everywhere and companies had money to burn, this step wasn’t necessary. In today’s world, where talent is difficult to come across and organizations are running as lean as possible, the synergistic nature between recruiting and learning is not only important, but also crucial.

Attracting the Workforce
In a job market where employees have more choices about their futures, selecting a job with an organization that enables learning and growth opportunities can make or break a candidate’s decision. An organization’s branding and reputation as a learning leader will attract two to three times more employees than will be drawn to an organization that is not known for its development programs.

All of the top 10 companies on Fortune’s Best 100 Companies to Work For list rated highest in the areas of learning along with growth opportunities. There is a direct correlation between the ease of recruiting an employee into a company and the company’s rank on such a list.

As recruiters constantly struggle and search for great employees, they can look internally — to their CLOs — for advice. The CLO and the learning organization, if branded correctly, can play a major role in attracting people to an organization. Both recruiters and learning executives must take steps to ensure that future employees see that they care about their employees’ growth and development. These steps include:

  • Develop a brand for recruiting and learning: These brands include more than just information about the company. They also include what employees will get from working there, and why this is a career and not just a stopping point in their life.
  • Market the brand wherever the company goes: Individuals think of companies such as Southwest Airlines as leaders because of the marketing of their employee satisfaction.
  • Apply for awards: For example, aim to be on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list or to earn one of CLO magazine’s Learning in Practice awards, etc., so you can tout those successes to candidates.
  • Use employee testimonials on recruiting materials: This includes Web sites, applications and signage that individuals see when they come into organization that reinforce the learning culture.
  • Think of learning as a benefit: Recruiting organizations spend so much time thinking about health insurance, movie passes, cafeteria discounts, and other perks and benefits that they ignore learning and the impact it could have on a person’s decision to join a company.
  • Show current employees that there will be rewards: By enrolling and completing learning programs, employees can benefit by receiving promotions or other professional acknowledgement. There is no greater slap in the face than seeing a new job filled without ever being considered as an internal candidate.

As part of the Workforce 2000 report, potential employees were given a list of questions and things to look for when choosing a potential employer. These questions included:

  • Does the leadership of the company visibly endorse and participate in learning initiatives?
  • What do business publications, presentations and conversations say about the culture of the company?
  • Has there been any negative publicity around turnover and lack of employee satisfaction with the company?
  • Do the retention and turnover rates reflect positively on the company’s values?
  • Are there reported goals and objectives for learning and development?

These questions show that candidates do not just look for an offer letter or stock options. They look to work for an organization that respects them, wants to develop them and looks internally to fill new positions. In the free-agent nation, employees know they have a choice, and recruiters need to make their only choice to continue to grow within the organization.

On-Boarding the Workforce
In company after company, the recruiting process ends when the applicant says, “I accept.” From that point, recruiting leaves it up to the rest of the organization to make sure that a new employee gets welcomed, receives a security badge and is oriented. This is a big mistake. Recruiting and learning must work together to make the new employee’s orientation memorable and positive.

In early 2000, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) did a study that showed that 77 percent of employees actually go home early on their first day because the organization was not prepared for them — either because a new-hire training program wasn’t offered or because the organization didn’t have the necessary tools (such as a computer or workstation) ready. This number is inexcusable and begs the need for recruiting and learning to work together to make this process seamless for the new employee.

New-hire orientation programs are the employee’s first real exposure — aside from the job interview — to the company. Newly hired employees start their first day with both excitement and worry. They want to excel, but don’t know where to start. New-hire training harnesses their enthusiasm, reduces their fears and directs their energy. Educating new employees is never easy and should not be left to chance. According to Intulogy, an outsourced training provider, new-hire training should provide learning in a comfortable environment, acknowledge that new concepts take time to learn, encourage people to practice new skills during the class (interactive sessions help achieve this goal), offer individual feedback to employees, and welcome questions and provide timely answers.

New hire-orientation must be an extension of the recruiting process, using the same terms, philosophies and branding that got the employee to accept the job offer in the first place. The training should be positive and should not only paint a picture of how to perform the new job, but also introduce a learning culture that will last throughout employment.

On-boarding is one of the most important processes for HR today. An employee’s first interaction with the company is just as important as the customer’s first interaction. Sadly enough, most companies treat new-hire training as a mandatory, boring program instead of giving it the attention it deserves as a springboard for the employee’s career at the organization.

Workforce Turnover
An organization’s turnover rate has a significant effect on the CLO and the recruiting department. According to an Amacon survey conducted in January 2005, the most common reasons employees leave organizations are:

  • The job or workplace wasn’t as expected.
  • There was a mismatch between the job and the employee.
  • The employee is receiving too little coaching or feedback.
  • The employee has too few growth and advancement opportunities.
  • The employee feels devalued and unrecognized.
  • The employee is stressed from overwork.
  • The employee loses trust in senior leaders.

Many of these explanations have to do with learning and the responsibilities of the CLO. According to Saratoga Institute, the average cost of losing an employee equals that employee’s salary. If an organization of 5,000 people, with an overall average salary of $50,000 per year, has a 10 percent turnover rate, that represents a $25 million loss. Those dollars could go a long way toward providing additional training for an organization.

The point is simple: CLOs and learning organizations that keep employees trained and motivated for future growth reduce the burden on the recruiting arm of the HR organization. This allows recruiting to do a better job screening candidates and ensuring that organizations hire the right person — someone who plans to stay.

An increasing number of organizations see the value of learning and recruiting working synergistically. Organizations that appreciate the value added by recruiting and learning sharing the same goals and objectives have a tremendous competitive advantage. It’s a two-way street: Learning impacts recruiting, and recruiting impacts learning. The integration of the business process into a holistic talent management approach is how the CLO and the recruiting leaders will eventually play a truly strategic role.

Jason Averbook is chief executive officer and co-founder of Knowledge Infusion, and has more than 15 years of experience in the human resource and technology industry. Jason can be reached at