Stop Holding Us Back! Problems and Roadblocks in Recruitment

Twice a year, corporate recruiting leaders from around the world converge for several days of learning, sharing, networking, and good times at the ER Expo conference. As usual, I was at the most recent ER Expo, which took place on March 15 and 16 in San Diego. While the program is always invigorating, this year’s schedule included a town meeting on the subject of current problems and roadblocks impacting recruitment. What follows is a listing of problems and roadblocks as identified by attendees ó your peers in the recruiting profession. If you were unable to attend, use the ER Forum to respond to this article with your current issues ó and hopefully with solutions that have worked for you with regards to the problems identified. As an advisor to numerous corporations, I know that that a good cross-section of the ERE membership is struggling with the same issues. Leverage each other, the solutions are out there. Problems and Roadblocks Identified by Corporate Recruiters

  • 43% identified lack of visibility and credibility among executive leadership. The perception of recruitment as a tactical execution role versus that of a knowledge worker was seen as a major problem.
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  • 38% identified resistance to change. Attendees noted that corporations rely on historical models of compensation and job grading, and frequently use pre-defined job descriptions. There is a tendency to think about jobs in an old way.
  • 26% identified problems with leadership. Corporate leaders and executives are not well versed in the nuts and bolts of recruiting, but still want to manage tightly recruitment efforts.
  • 26% were concerned with high-volume hiring. In particular, these attendees were concerned with how to powering high-volume hiring in a low-tech environment.
  • 17% noted problems in HR. These attendees perceived a lack of clearly defined ways HR functions can work together to power talent management.
  • 7% were uncomfortable with management’s conception of hiring. Managers frequently view talent as a commodity, these attendees noted, and too managers often falsely believe that minimizing recruitment costs does not impact quality of hire.
  • 7% were worried about how to build and manage a recruitment function. A number of attendees want to learn how to develop a recruitment process from scratch. They were concerned about how to establish credibility for a newly formed function and scale with projected organizational growth.
  • 4% identified roadblocks to being proactive. These attendees felt they were unable to work proactively, because leadership is secretive about growth planning, which puts recruitment in the position of being reactive to incremental announcements and requisitions.

A number of key issues restrain recruiting professionals from maximizing their impact, but the bulk of these issues are neither new nor unique to one particular firm. Regardless of the problems you currently face, it is likely that someone else in another firm is dealing with or has dealt with the same issue. That’s why it’s important that you leverage networking opportunities to uncover the solutions that work. Often times, the best solutions are simple, work quickly, and are relatively free. Share your issues and solutions using the forum. Watch for others with thoughts and ideas that relate to yours. When you identify someone that can help you or vice versa, reach out, make contact, and ask them to join your ERE Network (find out how at

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.