• The Heart of Recruiting: Conventional Wisdom Isn’t Always Your Best Guide

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
    June 12, 2013

    by Sue Keever Watts

    Sue Keever Watts

    A few years ago, a client asked me to conduct research of recent college graduates to understand why they were declining job opportunities in field locations. The acceptance rate for positions in the corporate office was high; however, my client was finding it difficult to identify students who were willing to start their careers in more remote locations.

    In addition, he found new graduates who were hired into the corporate office were declining opportunities to relocate to smaller field offices after a few years on the job. My client and others in leadership assumed the reason was twofold:

    • Most generational research suggests that students are more interested in living in large cities than small towns.
    • Research suggests that students want to live closer to home (which was rarely close to the company’s field office locations).

    During the focus groups, I offered a few questions to test the client’s hypothesis. The new hires didn’t bite. They said they weren’t rejecting offers to work in field offices because of the size of the cities or the distance from home. In fact, they all said they would be willing to work in a field office under the following conditions:

    • If they understood how the move would benefit their career in the short and long term.
    • If they understood what they would be doing.
    • If they understood how long (typically) they would need to stay.
    • If they understood the relocation package (including trailing partner incentives).

    Perhaps the most revealing finding was that most recent hires rejected offers to move because they felt that the further away they were from corporate headquarters, the more likely they were to get lost and forgotten. They said that if they felt someone within the company was watching out for them to ensure that they were on a path to achieve their individual career objectives, they would be more than willing to move.

    Focus groups and one-on-one interviews are considered qualitative research, while surveys and questionnaires are quantitative. Qualitative research tells you “why,” while quantitative research tells you “how many.”

    They’re both important, but in this case, qualitative research revealed the underlying fear that was keeping students from accepting positions that would, in fact, have helped their careers. A hypothesis is a great starting place; however, the heart of recruiting lies in truly understanding what motivates talent.


The Heart of Recruiting: Conventional Wisdom Isn’t Always Your Best Guide