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Reinventing Hiring Based on How the Best People Find New Jobs

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This past month, I talked with a dozen companies about their hiring challenges. They were the exact same challenges a dozen different companies described to me last year. In fact, they were exactly the same ones from five years and 10 years ago. They all involved not having enough qualified candidates, managers who were not fully engaged, recruiters who weren’t good at recruiting, weak interviewers, lack of diversity, bias, etc., etc., etc.

The bigger surprise though is that everyone believes that the latest surefire hiring craze is the one that will finally turn the tide. This year’s is AI. I remember 25 years ago, it was job boards and the Internet. Twenty years ago, it was the ATS. Fifteen years ago, it was employer branding. Five years ago, it was big data and three years ago, it was the candidate experience. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

It’s not to say that these tools are ineffective, but it does say that something’s wrong if the same hiring challenges persist year after year. Aside from the “Law of Averages,” I contend it boils down to this simple premise:

You can’t use a surplus of talent hiring process when a surplus of talent doesn’t exist.

About five years ago, I put a video together with LinkedIn describing the difference between an “attract the best” versus “weed out the weak” hiring strategy summarizing the strategy problem. It’s based on the concept that the best people don’t look for new jobs and compare opportunities the same way average people do. The following are a dozen ways they differ. I contend that until technology and processes are designed from this perspective, the hiring challenges companies are facing today will continue to be the same ones they face in the future.

A dozen ways to reinvent hiring

1. Eliminate skills and experience-laden job descriptions

To attract the best, you’ll need to define jobs as 5-6 KPOs (Key Performance Objectives) and wrap them around a customized EVP (Employee Value Proposition). This is the criteria the best people use to consider and compare opportunities.

2. Deemphasize Inbound sourcing to increase quality of hire.

By shifting to an Outbound sourcing strategy (attract in via direct sourcing and networking) and targeting pre-qualified candidates (performance not skills qualified), you’ll be able to spend more time with fewer but far stronger people.

3. Don’t post your internal job descriptions

The best people will rarely apply to an ill-defined lateral transfer filled with hyperbole and “must-haves.” Here are some ideas on how to convert any job into a potential career move worth considering.

4. Close the “open door” apply button

The only reason you need to filter out unqualified people is because you let anyone apply without any preconditions. Implementing a self-selection process like requiring prospects to submit some type of job sample to be considered for a compelling career opportunity will eliminate 90% of the unqualified.

5. Stop filtering on compensation

When money is used to filter people too soon you ensure compensation is the #1 reason people accept or reject an offer.

6. Control first impression bias 

Well-organized panel interviews and role-based interviews are two of the many ways to eliminate the #1 cause of hiring mistakes.

7. Convert generic competencies and behaviors into job-specific performance objectives

Everyone wants to hire results-oriented people, but a results-oriented accountant will not give up until the numbers balance and a top sales rep will do whatever it takes to make quota every quarter.

8. Use evidence-based interviewing techniques

Digging deep into the candidate’s major accomplishments most comparable to the KPOs provides the collective evidence needed to accurately predict on-the-job performance.

9. Implement a “sum of the parts” interview assessment.

Don’t give everyone a yes/no vote. Instead, assign narrow roles (i.e., soft skills, fit, technical, management, team, etc.) using pre-scripted interview guides.

10. Eliminate “Big Thumb” voting

Discard yes/no voting. Instead, share specific evidence in an open forum using a talent scorecard where emotional and superficial conclusions are excluded.

11. Shift the criteria to long-term career growth over starting compensation

By offering a non-monetary increase of at least 30% (i.e., the sum of stretch, growth, impact, and mix) compensation becomes a less important negotiating factor rather than a filter or deal-breaker.

12. Implement a “Dual Buyer” mindset

From first contact to the final close candidates need to be considered equal to or more important buyers than hiring managers when it comes to who makes the yes/no hiring decision. This mindset ensures a remarkable candidate experience.

None of these steps individually are hard to implement. The hard part is doing them all at once and every time. But harder still is recognizing that you can’t use a surplus of talent hiring strategy when a surplus of talent doesn’t exist.