Hiring is broken. How do we fix it?

I love HR, and it’s easily one of the things I’m most passionate about. But when it comes to the hiring process, I have often given up all hope and gone to bed in despair.

As a diligent HR Leader, you are responsible for a number of critical processes that enable your company to deliver the business opportunities – or not. Hiring senior leaders is one of these key accountabilities that indicate your professional capability and tenacity. Therefore, the various times when it has taken more than two months to hire, I have felt great disappointment and probed further into why hiring is broken. Here’s a list of my thoughts on the recruitment process.

There’s no doubt that hiring is broken, and in my view, these are the factors that contribute:

It is complex

  • It is a lengthy process with many sub-processes. Each one has a level of complexity and demands expertise for it to be effective.
  • Hiring is heavily dependent upon the Career Level of the job (graduate hiring versus CEOs) – this demands different approaches to effectively achieve the same outcome.
  • The multiple search channels add complexity for the HR Team, especially then it involves systems. HR people are often not comfortable with using new tech and social media, especially the experienced older folk.
  • The different channels to hire different categories of employees requires different approaches and adds complexity – full time, permanent, temps, freelancers or sub-contractors – each require different contact points.

It can be wasteful

  • Often, candidates are only job hunting if they have difficulties at work, are demotivated or have lost their job. To entice these ‘good match but less motivated’ candidates we have to use costly headhunters.
  • Whether on the phone or in person, there is so much time spent on asking the basic questions. We waste time asking about their past work (information that should be on their CV) instead of asking the real questions that determine the fit of the candidate. The time and money spent on hiring is often wasteful.
  • The involvement of many stakeholders in the screening process extends the lead-time.

It involves people!

  • More often than not, we have insufficient candidates that match our needs for our starting pool – so the chance of success is already challenged.
  • There are many moving parts – candidates change their minds about moving, about the company, about the job and of course, about the salary. Companies change their minds and can stop hiring at anytime.
  • The hiring process involves people! People have biases and assumptions, things they like and don’t like. People often like people like themselves – and this tendency brings potential discrimination.
  • Candidates apply for many jobs even if they are simply not qualified. Whether it is due their personal belief about being given a chance, or desperation to find a job to support their family – this behaviour means we end poring over CVs that are often irrelevant to our needs.
  • Managing many vacancies and sometimes, thousands of candidates, is challenging for the best administrator who cares about detail. For many of us, this can be overwhelming – especially if you are using Excel instead of expensive applicant tracking systems. This leads to candidates not being updated or advised of the progress of their application – and sometimes, having a less than great recruitment experience with your organisation.

It needs support:

  • More often than not, the company Line Managers don’t take the time to fully articulate the job in sufficient detail to ensure a good match.
  • Because of the volume of recruitment, HR teams often rely on less experienced team members to filter candidates; these gatekeepers can reject candidates because they are often unaware of the potential fit of candidates.
  • We are not born with the capability to recruit – using our intuition is like driving a car without lessons. Unlike the highway code, the workplace does not demand that recruiters be qualified. Without expertise, knowledge, tools, and templates, it leads to accidents.
  • Assessment tools can help add additional information to a hiring process. However, the cost of these tools can be prohibitive, especially since you have to be trained and accredited to use many of these tools.

Keeping all of this in mind, what are some quick steps you can take to fix hiring?

The answers depend on your career level, of course. However, some generally useful tips to help navigate the current process include:

  • Depending on your urgency, I suggest you don’t count on just one approach, use multiple approaches.
  • Go slow to go quick – take time out at the beginning of the process to ensure clarity in your search and screening. This will deliver many benefits later.
  • Do your homework – go beyond the traditional CV, seek as much detail as possible before the interview. Reserve the interview for the real questions that help you understand fit.
  • Be disciplined in your communication and interview planning. Ensure that you follow up all calls with positive communication and always be in a quiet spot and on time for all telephone or online calls. Sounds simple, but you’ll be surprised how many don’t get this right.
  • Most importantly, keep it simple. A complex process serves no one.

How do we fix it?

You may have heard the term before when it comes to thinking about new ways of approaching things – KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. I sincerely believe that it is time to apply logic and simplify this process. Five simple steps to hiring utopia!

  • The introduction of a single global system that enables hiring of all categories of employees, from all industries and all career levels.
  • A holistic system that simply connects employers with qualified candidates directly without all the additional layers of complexity.
  • A system that is built to cover the entire end-to-end process with a full support methodology of templates, tools and assessment for Line Managers, covering specifying the job requirement, dynamic immediate candidate search, collaborative candidate screening leading to supported candidate selection.
  • A system that provides a detailed candidate profile with sufficient data to enable effective unbiased matching and evaluation prior to connecting.
  • A system that enables a hire to be completed in hours and days not weeks and months.

Author: Richard Cowley