Recruitment is a sales process

As is always the case I find OneTeamGov events restorative and good for the soul. You meet great people, you learn, you get inspired and the energy in the room is fantastic. The #BureaucracyHack was totally up to standard. There were 4 pre agreed topics prepared and space for one topic brought forward on the day for process improvement. The topics ranged from hacking politics to business cases. The aim to understand the problems in the process and to hack some solutions in a day that you can apply to improve the process. You could choose a topic and go and work with colleagues who also were interested in that subject. You could move around but I made the decision at the start to stick with the topic I chose. I chose the recruitment process and boy was it an eye opener.

Unfortunately due to the time of my travel I had to leave before the end and the show and tells but I cannot wait to catch up with the outputs.

So a bit about what we did. We worked through the process in 3 groups as 3 different users and brought the outputs together as a group. We then proceeded to vote for our most important pain points and took the 4 most popular forward (to be fair there were 50+ pain points identified in less than an hour and all could have merited exploring). We then split the group again by preference for each of the 4 and started to work up ideas as individuals and then bringing them together as a group.

As a group we were looking at the offer to (hopefully!) onboarding stage and how we could remove waste and improve the time taken to do this process. There is much waste in this process and therefore many opportunities to improve. I will allow others to update with the outcomes (as I am writing this at London City Airport) whilst others are showing and telling. I want to talk about what I was thinking about and this was mainly from the perspective of an applicant as I do not have the deep knowledge of the Government Processes that others in the group have.

I have been reading a lot of Dan Pinks books like To Sell is Human so its probably no surprise I was thinking about the process and considering the selling and buying behaviour in the process and the implications of this to the users. I wonder how many of the users are considering this as they travel through a bureaucratic painfully long process of Central Government recruitment. There is a point in the process where there is a fundamental paradigm shift where the buyer becomes the seller at a critical point (the point of offer).

The recruiting manager (or organisation) who has been the buyer, fundamentally needs to change mindset and become the seller. The applicant who has been a seller to this point suddenly gets the power of being a buyer. This part of the process really drags on so selling the benefits (i.e. please wait for us to complete our lengthy, complex, opaque and frustrating processes) to the buyer is vital and it is debateable whether this is currently done or if it is how well it is done. The buyer has the power, the buyer can easily get frustrated by the process and chose to buy another product (a different role) maybe from another Public Sector supplier with faster delivery, maybe they get offered an upgrade by their existing supplier(promotion/more money) or maybe they buy from the private sector as they o next day delivery (they offer straight away).

When this goes on for 3-6 months clearly there is a very high attrition rate and many buyers go elsewhere hence the hack!

The high level recruitment sales process

Sales process

Looking from a recruiting managers perspective here (as they have the need that drives the process and they are involved in all stages) they have to keep changing role from seller, to buyer and then back to seller.

This is a ‘simple’ three phase process!

  • Internal Approval – where we get the (massively numerous) sign offs to get permission to recruit. As a recruiting manager I need to sell the need to the approvers so that I can get permission to recruit
  • Recruitment – this is the process of job specifications, application forms, advertising, shortlisting, interviewing and deciding. As a recruiting manager I need to attract the right suppliers to bid so that we can buy the right products for our organisation
  • Offer to On-boarding – we make a provisional offer, we need to do lengthy processes to turn that into a formal offer, we need to negotiate costs, terms/conditions and we need to make sure we can keep the candidate interested so that they take the job and start. As a recruiting manager I need to keep selling to the buyer so that they will buy into our organisation and come to work for us


The reality of that simple 3 phase process is a massive process the many tasks, approvals, hand offs, rules, workarounds, waiting time and so much more. We only captured a fairly high perspective view of the process from a couple of personas/types of recruitment but the map looked like this.

Service Design Approach

Service design

It was really useful to me to see the Service Design approach in action and how it compares with our own process modelling workshops. I was pleased to see how both can work together and are complimentary to delivering better outcomes.

We learnt a lot of insights about the process. There were so many issues identified all of which would have an impact on improving the process and therefore improving the outcomes of successfully recruiting the best candidates for the organisations. It was interesting to see how many of the challenges did not relate to things not allowed in the current process but actually things you could do but unless you had the right people who knew how to navigate the process correctly you would never be aware of these workarounds. So many issues in the recruitment process were ones I remember workshops about 15 years ago.

From memory a selection of the challenges in broadly chronological order would be

  • Issues with the need for busine