What Can Recruiters Learn from Supply Chain Experts?

Businesses run on supply chains. A supply chain is a network that connects a company with all the suppliers it needs to make a product. These connections enable the company to produce and distribute a product to buyers. Supply chain management is a term used to describe the different steps it takes to get the product or service from its original state to the customer. It can get complex, but good supply chain management results in lower costs and a faster production cycle.

How Supply Chains Work – A Real Life Example

Let's think about an auto assembly plant as an example. Imagine my job is to make sure we have the right supply of brake pads for a Ford Edsel assembly line. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at my job, and the assembly line keeps shutting down for lack of brake pads. I'm under a lot of pressure because our production numbers are down, dealerships don't have inventory, and revenue is tanking. But I'm determined to fix this problem. If our assembly line needs brake pads, by golly, they'll get brake pads! I'm going to flood that factory floor with brake pads.

Now I'm feeling pretty good about the way production is going. Then, I get a frantic phone call. I was so concerned about not getting enough brake pads that I sacrificed the quality for quantity. Many of the pads I bought from my suppliers were not manufactured to Ford specifications. We used some of the right pads, but we also used many that didn't fit properly. This is manufacturing, and our product is our lifeline. The assembly line cannot shut down or slow down. My assembly line workers used whatever pads they could find so the production line would keep moving. 

Fast forward, and my boss is extremely unhappy when Ford announces a brake pad recall. People are having accidents because they can't stop their cars. She's furious when angry consumers file a "defective product" class action lawsuit.  Uh oh!

How Recruiting Job Candidates Works Like A Supply Chain

What does this have to do with recruiting? There is a strong parallel, especially in hourly recruiting. You're responsible for talent acquisition in your company. You don't have to worry about brake pads, but you need another material – candidates. You may take exception to the notion that acquiring workers is a supply chain. These are human beings, not raw materials! I agree but focus on the process, not the materials. If you don't get people in the right quantity who fit the job specification, your company's production line will suffer. But a higher number of candidates (or brake pads) won't solve the problem. Restaurant customers will sit and wait (and wait some more) for service if you don't have the right waitstaff, servers, or cooks. Retail customers will become frustrated if sales associates are not helpful or cannot answer their questions. Healthcare facilities cannot serve patients well if the right doctors, nurses, and support staff are not in place. The list goes on.

If you hire hourly employees, your talent supply chain should work like this: 

  1. Develop specifications. Just like the brake pad, you need to define the requirements for various positions within your company. For example, what are the important characteristics of a high-producing sales associate? Does a person with several years of experience work best in that role? What is an acceptable commute time to the job? Personal economics just don't work for a one-hour commute paying $12.00 per hour. There will be many more specifications to consider.
  2. Measure candidates against the specifications. Suppose you flood the business with applicants how I flooded the factory floor with brake pads in my imaginary story. In that case, you may hurt your production line. No hiring manager can adequately evaluate a large stack of candidates for every hire. Bad hires are going to slip through. While you may never be sued for product defects, your customer experience and productivity will certainly deteriorate.
  3. Use analytics and machine learning to help your hiring managers. Even the best hiring manager can't properly evaluate all those candidates' specs. A machine learning algorithm can evaluate every single candidate instantly and reduce the time to hire.

How Supply Chain Helps Us Understand Talent Acquisition Processes

Like the brake pad example above, the candidates that match your job specifications will perform their jobs the way you expect them to be performed. The right employees are the ones who will perform at high levels consistently over a long time.

Is talent acquisition a supply chain? Not in the classic sense of supply chain science. You are, in fact, dealing with people. Brake pads don't deal with problems at home before coming to work. Their interests and aspirations don't change over time. Even so, you can incorporate many of the disciplines and practices of supply chain management into your talent acquisition processes.

Like an auto assembly plant, you can't afford to have your production line slow down or stop. The talent acquisition process needs rigorous management to be successful. Applying advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to your hiring process can help your organization keep a steady supply of high-quality candidates.

In Conclusion

Begin with the end in mind. Know your requirements for an employee in a particular position. Know the "specification" if you please. Once you identify the skills, behaviors, attitudes, etc., of your ideal employee, you can use advanced technologies to find candidates who match those specifications quickly. When you have more ideal employees in place, you will have a more engaged workforce, and you will see your business improve.

Learn more about how you can improve your recruiting process to increase profits and achieve better business results by making more quality hires by visiting CadientTalent.com.

Jim Buchanan