How You Can Make Your Worst Recruiting Practices Go Away

Jan 9, 2006

If you look at best practices as “us” and see worst practices as “them,” I can assure you there are more of them than there are of us. As a matter of fact, I suspect the numbers are not even close. Be that as it may, this New Yorker has always been short of patience as it relates to problems that can be fixed yet remain the same year after year. Here’s a list of my personal favorites — and some ideas on how you might make changes that others are either not bright enough or don’t care enough to make themselves.

Wanting a Lot for a Little

Nothing annoys me more than companies that want a candidate who has 1,127 key skills but is unwilling to pay the price it will take to hire this candidate. The bottom line for these sad organizations is that the candidates they like are too expensive and the ones they can afford are not good enough to hire. Honestly, aren’t you just a bit tired of this? You are almost never, ever going to get a Cadillac for the price of a Chevrolet, because the first rule of money is that you don’t get a lot for a little. If you run into this Neanderthal line of thinking, I suggest that you present candidates who can clearly do the job and are available to hire regardless of salary, because what a qualified candidate is earning at another organization is not your problem and not your responsibility. Beyond submitting qualified candidates, consider utilizing such sites as to provide data and support you efforts.

Having HR In Charge

Long ago, HR was probably a reasonable place to have recruiting report to because it was an ancillary function in a world that was very different than the one in which we live today. I have nothing against HR people, but that solution is no longer viable. Recruiting now plays a major role in building the organization and, if done well, providing a competitive advantage. The author Robert Anthony wrote, “If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.” Clearly, having recruiting report into HR fits Mr. Anthony’s sentiment perfectly. The time has come for every organization to have a Chief Talent Officer, either in spirit or in title, because the job of recruiting, as with most other jobs, will get done most effectively if someone who can do the job is clearly in charge of getting it done in the first place. If you are a recruiter reporting into an HR person who does not get it, I suggest that you consider yourself the person in charge and learn how to manage your boss. See How to Manage Your Boss: Developing the Perfect Working Relationship, by Ros Jay. Even if you can’t change the structure, you can still get great results.

Bashing Job Boards

“Monster first” has become my mantra, and I seem to be in good company. Industry darlings such as Microsoft, Google, Starbucks, and Amazon all post positions on Monster. Thus, Monster, as well as those companies, must be doing something right. You can bash the boards all you like, but Monster is so pervasive, so visible, and so entrenched that not posting there makes it look like you are not really serious about hiring in the first place. I know that passive candidates are all the rage, and I go after them as well as the next person; however, I have found such amazing candidates on Monster, many whom have lead me to other candidates, that not shelling out the money to see who you will identify is just plain silly. By the way, to my corporate recruiting friends, how many passive candidates did you source, cold call, convince to interview, and successfully hire last year?

Seeing Poaching as Stealing

God bless John Sullivan. He might wear that funny-looking vest a lot, but he had the courage to take the social work out of recruiting and make so many people understand that business is business and you can’t steal a person because you can’t own one in the first place. You can steal clothing, computers, or Lou Adler’s iPod, but you can’t steal a person. All organizations that compete are competing for customers as well as the human capital to serve and add value to these customers. You can’t very well do that if the very best people are working for the competition; the best people need to be working for you! I suggest that you build your company and, not incidentally, your future as well, by sourcing the best people from anywhere you can find them. Hiring the best people is what you are paid to do and that is how you win big in this phenomenon we call business.

Not Managing Your Career

Recruiters are some of the most interesting and colorful people I have come to know. Unfortunately, many do not manage their careers very effectively, for reasons I do not fully understand. I personally know recruiters who are extraordinarily good at what they do but keep on working for companies who do such clever things as:

  • Not valuing their contributions
  • Having unresponsive hiring managers
  • Not communicating effectively
  • Failing to provide the tools needed to do the job
  • Expecting candidates the day after the requisition is approved
  • Lacking the ability or will to make hiring decisions

The list goes on. You know what these organizations are like to work for; most of us have done it, and if you have, then consider it a price paid to see what type of companies for which you do not want to work. If you never worked for one of these dogs, consider yourself lucky. If you currently work for one now, run, do not walk, to get your resume updated, find a great position with an organization that values you and will support you efforts to be successful, and resign your current position. You will wonder why you didn’t do it years ago and will be on the start to a better professional experience.

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