Doing the wrong things more efficiently might seem like progress, but in the long run you wind up back where you started.
In Nashville last week at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect 2017, their annual hiring love fest, the world’s most engaged talent leaders and recruiters gathered to discuss the future of hiring.
They were jazzed, but I suggested nothing would be different.
This is not all that insightful nor courageous a prediction. Here’s why. Early in the show, I just went around and asked dozens of recruiters what challenges they were facing. Here’s a short list that covers 90% of the problems they described. Ten years ago I asked the same question and sadly got essentially the same answers.
· Not seeing enough good candidates
· The best candidates want too much money
· Hiring managers misjudge candidates
· Too many interviewers are biased
· Too many hiring managers overvalue presentation skills
· Too many technical people focus only on technical ability
· Hiring managers can’t recruit the best talent
· Recruiters spend too much time screening resumes
· Recruiters box-check and filter candidates on their compensation needs
· Candidates take counteroffers
· Candidates shop our offers around to get better offers
· We don’t have a great employer brand
· We can’t attract passive candidates
· Our job descriptions are boring
· We don’t pay enough
· Our location is not desirable
· There’s too much competition
About five years ago after yet another round of similar questions and similar answers, I prepared this video with LinkedIn describing why these problems will never go away without making a strategic shift. This focuses on attracting people in rather than weeding them out. The idea is summarized as follows and demonstrated in the graphic:
You can’t use a surplus of talent strategy emphasizing a “weed out the weak” mindset, when a surplus of top talent doesn’t exist. In this case you need to use a process designed to attract the best.
It doesn’t take much insight to recognize that most hiring processes are designed with a left to right “weed out the weak” focus. This starts with a job description listing a bunch of skills and experiences a candidate must have in order to meet some threshold of ability. These are then matched to a candidate’s resume listing his/her skills and experiences. If the person passes this filter some recruiter calls and discusses the job based on what the person gets on the day he/she starts. If both agree that the title, location, compensation and company are a reasonable fit a formal interview is arranged. However, rarely do the people hired have a great understanding of what they’ll be doing or could become if successful. That’s why employee dissatisfaction has hovered around 70% according to the Gallup group for 20+ years.
This left to right process puts a lid on quality of hire since anyone who can do the work who has a different mix of skills and experiences is automatically excluded from consideration. More important, few of the best of these diverse and high potential candidates would even dream of applying when the process is demeaning and the job being offered is no more than a lateral transfer.
By thinking right to left using an “attract the best” mindset all the traditional hiring problems magically disappear. This starts by defining the job based on what the person will be doing, not what the person needs to have. During the interview, you’ll discover if the person can do the work, and if so, she/he obviously has all the skills needed. This not only improves interviewing accuracy, but you’ll also be interviewing stronger people.
Once you define the work as a series of performance objectives, you then need to convert this information into a marketing campaign that invites people to engage in a discovery process to see if the position offers a true career move. For example, for a controller search a few years ago, I wrote an email to a select group of accounting directors at big corporations offering them a chance to get out of the numbers and make a difference. On a search for a CEO this past summer I just described how a very unusual start-up would impact pre-teens on their future career direction. In neither case did I describe what skills, experiences or competencies the person needed to have. As a result, the responses in both cases were overwhelming.
Unfortunately, in most cases, once recruiters get a hot prospect on the line they go into instant sales mode, box-checking skills and qualifying people on compensation. None of this would even be considered under a scarcity of talent mindset. In this case, the conversation would involve discussing what the person would be doing and where he/she would be able to go in comparison to what the person is doing now and their current career trajectory. This way compensation becomes a negotiating factor, not a filter to begin the conversation.
While the logic of attracting people by using a right to left hiring process is commonsensical, in practice it’s hard to implement since it violates years of bad practices. The problem begins to go away when the company adopts a strategy to improve quality of hire and increase ROI rather than reduce cost and improve efficiency. In my mind, getting faster at doing the wrong things makes no sense even if you feel good doing it.