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Dec 9, 2021
This article is part of a series called Strategy Safari.

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? I don’t need to recap the rollercoaster ride of 2021 for anyone reading this. You’ve been living it.

A major theme from the world of work has been the increased pressure placed on recruiting teams. In 2020, many organizations laid off staff, including recruiters. Hiring freezes meant recruiters didn’t really have much to do. Fast forward to 2021 and suddenly recruiters are front and center in the rush to hire people.

Whether it’s a result of the rising cost of child care, a desire to start their own business, or simply deciding that there are more important things to do than toil away for low wages at a company that doesn’t care about its people, quit rates have fueled the so-called Great Resignation with people opting out from the workforce.

Ironically, higher quit rates have coincided with a hiring ramp-up as organizations rush to replace roles that were cut during the early days of the pandemic, which means new roles and backfills have combined to create requisition loads that are burying recruiters. Stress levels are incredibly high and, based on conversations I’ve had with TA leaders, turnover among their staff is increasing, leading to increased workloads on the remaining recruiters. This has led to a vicious cycle of, “Screw this, I’m out of here.”

With all of this happening in the recruiting world right now, the last thing everyone needs is a bunch of people screwing it up for the rest of us…and yet, that’s what we keep seeing. So, in the spirit of the season, I’ve composed a Naughty List of things companies and leaders do that end up making a recruiter’s job nigh on impossible:

Crappy systems. Recruiters are fighting a competitive market — they don’t need to fight their ATS and other systems, too. Just getting a working career site can be a challenge sometimes, let alone navigating a poorly configured application system or an email-driven pre-hire and onboarding process. To borrow from Seinfeld, you know how to find the candidates, but you don’t know how to keep the candidates. 

Unrealistic compensation philosophy. Unrealistic can also include non-existent in this case. Whether it’s failing to keep up with rapid changes in salary expectations for hard-to-fill roles, lacking the understanding that service workers are commanding a higher hourly rate because of the work being done, lowering salaries for employees who are now working remote, or a convoluted exception process to make offers outside of the range, comp is not making a recruiter’s job any easier. 

Lack of planning. There will always be some level of reactivity to recruiting. You can’t predict who will leave when. You can, however, use data to help predict trends in your business. Yet too many companies seem shocked when they have to ramp up seasonal hiring. Or when their long-tenured employees start to retire and key roles are left open. Or that the business is planning to open three new locations that need to be staffed. Sigh. 

Recruiters are doing their best to get their business partners to think ahead, but all too often, the “we need these people now” mentality creates unnecessary strain on the system. And even if you could hire 2,000 people in four weeks, it’s extremely unlikely the business is prepared to onboard and assimilate that many people. Come on. 

Leadership hiring “rules.” It seems like you can’t go a month without reading yet another article about yet another executive sharing their go-to method for eliminating qualified candidates. You know, helpful things like having multiple jobs over the past two years means that the resume “goes in the garbage.” (Shut up, Kevin O’Leary.) Statements like this not only demonstrate horrible hiring practices. They also make that behavior OK throughout the business, making it even more difficult for the recruiter to convince a hiring manager to look beyond the surface to find a great candidate. Absolutes and hiring seldom go hand in hand.

Bone-headed CEOs. You know who I’m talking about. These are the leaders who do something so stupid, it puts the company all over the news for the wrong reasons. You know, like this idiot, who fired 900 employees on a pre-holiday Zoom call. Good luck to any recruiter trying to hire for that company in the next year or two. It’s a competitive market out there, especially for tech companies. People have choices and there is little a recruiter can say or do to excuse or explain that kind of behavior from a CEO.

If you are someone contributing to the challenge of being a recruiter and are not interested in changing, I hope you enjoy your lump of coal. If, however, you want something more than bah humbug in your stocking, do what you can to alleviate the strain on recruiters and turn their stress into peace and joy.

This article is part of a series called Strategy Safari.
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