Corporate recruiting is broken - it's dysfunctional and ineffective, and sucks time and money employers could be using to make better products and services. If you need evidence of the sorry state of the recruiting process at essentially any large or medium-sized employer, just talk to a job seeker -- or a hiring manager, for that matter.
Hiring processes are too slow, too cumbersome, and too stuffed with red-tape bureaucracy to allow employers to make thoughtful decisions about the people they're evaluating. The typical recruiting process is full of unnecessary steps and pointless slights and insults to job-seekers. None of this does an employer any good, but it preserves order (or the appearance of order) and keeps bureaucrats busy, so you don't find many organizations willing to scrap the broken process and start over. Still, if a CEO were inclined to re-design the recruiting process to make it work for living human people, here are five ways he or she could go about it:
- Add a reality requirement to job requisitions
It's bad enough to see job requisitions that require applicants to hold three specific degrees and eight certifications, have twenty years of experience in ten-year-old technologies, and also have superpowers. It's worse when the imaginary job candidate is expected to bring all these assets to a firm for a shockingly low wage. If you wanted your recruiting process to make sense, you'd reality-check your job requisitions before they can be posted. Beyond the critical few job requirements, every other 'nice to have' bullet point would cost the hiring manager in budget dollars. After all, the more skills we demand, the more expensive the search will be and the longer it will take.
- Consider internal candidates and friends-of-employees first
Whether it's the world's tackiest smokescreen or just a pathetic process breakdown, the outside candidate who goes through three interviews only to hear "You know we also have an internal candidate" is a person with a very good reason for being ticked off. It's only responsible for an employer to look at internal candidates first, before wasting anyone else's time. After internal candidates, we should be telling our employees about our job openings so they can let their friends know. Only after those two channels have been exhausted should we put our job openings out for public display. Where are the Process Quality folks when we need them?
- Mandate that the requisition expires in 30 days
If a manager needs help, he or she should jump on it. Yet job candidates sit waiting while processes creak forward, then stop, then lurch forward again. It's ridiculous. If a hiring manager, aided by a competent HR person, can't fill a job in 30 days, then the job requirements are unrealistic. Instead of turning over every rock on the beach, we should simplify the job spec so that an actual human being living on Earth can fill it. A great rule to install is the one that says that a job opening explodes on the thirty-first day after posting, and once exploded; it can't be re-opened in the same year. A couple of those missteps and the manager loses all hiring privileges, if not his or her job. Remember the old
adage, lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part? Same deal. Get people in the door fast and fill the dang opening already, or throw in the leadership towel and let more effective people do the hiring for you.
- Focus on the first forty-eight
Can you think of a good reason for a hiring manager to take more than two business days to update a job seeker after a face-to-face interview?
I can't. If you want to boost the quality of your hires and your organization's overall leadership quotient, make a rule that every job candidate brought in for an interview needs to get a yes/no message within 48 hours after the interview, no exceptions. That will get your managers thinking about timeliness in the recruiting system. If the manager hasn't checked in with the candidate by the 48-hour mark, that candidate will be handed to another hiring manager in the company while the slowpoke manager gets to go find new contenders. If you snooze, you lose, right?
- Install quality in hiring metrics
We evaluate HR people in countries across America on the stupidest yardstick ever invented: it's called ‘Time to Fill’. Once we put in place a thirty-day explosion clause (described above) we can forget about ‘Time to Fill’ and focus on new-hire quality and quality in the recruitment and selection processes themselves. We should evaluate our managers and HR people on how well they lead the charge of bringing new people onto the team, and base our promotion decisions in part on our leaders' ability to recruit (not just vet, but also sell) talent. If we want to do this right, we'll ask the job candidates - I’m talking about the people who WEREN'T hired - how well the managers and HR people have done at communicating and answering questions throughout the process. Eye-opening!
We can get much better at managing recruiting now, before the post-bust exodus begins and employers are scrambling for talent. From the language on your careers site to the way you greet interviewees in the lobby, every bit of the process contributes to your message to the marketplace. Is it "We're dying to get the best people in here, and we suspect you may be one of them" or "You just sit there and wait, 'cause you're a low priority for us."?