Talk about coding and it provokes all kinds of emotions from recruitment consultants to knowledge professionals. The purist will argue that knowledge cannot be coded. On the other hand, coding is the only way to find things in a database.
Let’s consider the most important asset other than the consultants themselves in the recruitment industry – candidates and clients. Information will result in better sales approach with potential clients and selection of potential candidates. Where there is not enough information, it means lack of knowledge to advance. Where there is too much information, it means spending time picking through data.
I propose that while coding cannot be the only way to create knowledge, it is an integral part and cannot be ignored.
Coding the right information about candidates helps consultants to know better.
Consider Candidate Coding:
A candidate resume database is like a huge library of documents. Basic segmentation will help to group candidates together for easier searching. These include past experience in sector, function, current level of seniority and geography. Keep it simple and basic for initial filtering.
Like books that can be filed under more than 1 genre, a candidate can have experiences in different areas. In today’s digital world, a candidate cv can appear in different groups, there is no need to hard code only 1 type.
A consultant’s interview notes provide important qualitative information on a candidate. Their experience in evaluating candidates will provide precious insight for other consultants who may want to contact the same candidate. While the interview is difficult to document, there are key information that can be coded for reference. These can include basic skills and competencies such as language skills, communication, teamwork, autonomy etc.
For notes specific to the job the candidate is applying for, this can be summarized and added for reference.
Candidate intimacy is created with increasing number of touchpoints. Some toucpoints have high value than others. Recording these touchpoints will provide a view of historic activities. High value candidates can often be turned in high value clients. The different type of touchpoints can be coded by their value and then assigned to candidates.
For example, email alerts, mailshots are low value touchpoints and can be coded in the same group. Assigning this code to candidates who had received email alerts may not provide much information and can be coded automatically. Others such as participation to round table discussions, events and satisfaction survey feedback provide more value and can be tracked differently.
Consider Client Coding:
Similar to candidate coding, a client contact can also be coded against basic information on sector, function, level of seniority and geography. Here there are 2 sets of information, basic information about a client company and basic information about the client contacts within the company.
Most companies fall into the trap of selling to only 1 line of business in a company when there are potentially other lines of businesses. Where ring fencing is important, having as many client contacts in a company will help to avert risks and improve chances of cross selling.
Client Meeting Notes
Meeting a client contact will provide an accurate temperature read on their attitude to your services and company. These can be coded based on key information such as attitude to recruitment firms, openness in discussion, willingness to provide information.
Information relating to the particular opportunity can be recorded as qualitative notes just like a candidate interview.
Like candidate intimacy, client intimacy is created with as many touchpoints as possible. Successes on each of the touchpoint will help to improve relationship and create intimacy. There are 2 levels of intimacy: with the company and with the client contact. Here, high value touchpoints or successes include successful placements, satisfaction, recommendations and referrals to business.
Keeping a record of past successes and proof of satisfaction will help in convincing new contacts in the company to kick start in relationship building.
Other than coding
Outside of coding, there are also other methods available to make information easier to find. These include:
Tagging is a good way for consultants to include information that is not part of the coding list. With cloud-computing and smart design, tags previously used can appear as suggestions. This helps to reduce the number of tags and highlight often used tags for potential inclusion in standard codes.
Both Yahoo and Google have invested in providing searching services to companies. It comes as a form of search box that means you can perform “google search” on the database.
Finally, does information really mean knowledge? It’s been said that information is power. This power is useless if it is not put to good use – that is knowledge. Isn’t it?
Often, when the term knowledge management is mentioned, the next part of the conversation is followed either by
“what do you mean?”
or “do you mean the data base system?”.
The mistake will be to spend time trying to explain it. Too often, explaining about knowledge management only end up labelling it ultimately as a cost initiative.
In a service industry, I like to start with people, the employees who sell and provide services. When a recruitment company sell their services, they are implying a worth in the people who will be performing the services. They deliver services at the best of their knowledge and they way they perform is packaging that adds to a customer experience. If we continue with this train of thought, knowledge is integral to a service industry, it goes straight to top line sales and bottom line profits.
For many knowledge management practioners, initiatives in knowledge management often turned into a cost versus profit discussion. Often it ends up on the losing end of the battle along with other cost centres such as training and development, human resources with funds redirected to systems upgrade and even marketing. Here’s what I will propose as the pillars of success in a recruitment company using knowledge.
In recruitment, each consultant often holds his/her own list of clients. Leaders in the industry will be familiar with this story, lose a good person and lose a list of clients and it is straight to the bottom line. Whether it is a sudden departure of staff or through retirement, to build a sustainable business that can survive the change in personnel, succession planning is important. And knowledge management has a key role to play.
Creating programs that encourages sharing of knowledge from seniors to juniors or peers will mean continuity and retention of knowledge in the company. The knowledge that is shared will allow other member staff to step up when there is a staff departure. It also gives confidence to clients to continue work with the company.
Upstart new starters or junior staff
While training is the most basic form of initiating new staff, it oftens lack the depth and practicality of daily operations. It is common for a new starter irregardless of seniority to take 3-6 months before creating profits. Knowledge management can provide a new starter with the essential knowledge to kick start their performance.
Programs such as mentoring, seminars will bring similar subject matter experts in contact with new starters. Through sharing of experience and working knowledge of the company, the culture and politics will help a new starter settle in quicker and focus on performance. Such program’s can also benefit new starters.
Recruitment is one of the most fragmented industry full of companies in various sizes. A client has a wide selection of companies to work with and often, the client can ony rely on past experiences to decide. Often, it is simple as how comfortable or confident they feel about the recruiter. It can be hard to qualify how to increase such a confidence.
Knowledge is by far a much better argument to raise confidence. To industrialise the recognition of a company’s knowledge and thus expertise, it will require a recruitment to use expertise as a forefront of their positioning. There are other positioning elements such as size, geographical reach for example that are commonly used. However, if you ask a person who has a severe headache who they prefer to see, it will be a head specialist than a generalist.
A client is not just the company a recruitment firm is working with. In the people business, it is the individual hiring managers and decision makers. Whilst they may not have working knowledge of recruitment, they have working knowledge of their industry and function for the role a recruitment firm is asked to recruit.
Creating client intimacy requires a few tactics. One way will be to speak their “language”. This can be easily achieved if a recruiter has knowledge of their client’s area of work. Knowledge management programs that provide a recruiter with such knowledge or enable them to be more knowledgeable will help. Also, don’t forget, your client has knowledge you can tap into and it is often free.
The next time the subject of knowledge management comes up, it should be a topic of necessary investment and not optional cost.