What Unsuccessful Recruiters Are Doing Wrong

 recruitment-sample-mdMost strategic recruiters seek to optimize the three most important factors in talent acquisition — cost, time, and quality. However, that objective is often impossible to accomplish because recruiters continue to use outdated talent processes which were designed back in the 1980s.

Stephen Covey, in his ground-breaking best seller — 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — introduces timeless principles that form the framework of the changes that individuals must adopt to become more effective. But, before one can embrace the seven habits, Covey proposes adopting of a “paradigm shift”– a change in perception and interpretation of how the world really works. Similarly, recruiters must be willing to adopt a paradigm shift in how they view the world of talent acquisition — if they hope to be successful in sourcing, recruiting, and hiring the very best talent in today’s war for talent.

For example, it has been my experience that “average” to “good” recruiters follow similarly dated talent strategies: 

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  1. Post generic job descriptions on their employment site and the major job boards … and wait for “active” applicants to find their jobs and apply.
  2. Use boring job descriptions, create a “perfect candidate profile” for the position, and screen out applicants who do not fit this arbitrary standard.
  3. Believe that achieving 100+ applicants for a vacancy is an indicator of a productive recruitment campaign.
  4. Believe “cost per hire” and “time to fill” are relevant metrics to measure the effectiveness of their talent acquisition function.
  5. Present the job postings in terms that are clearly employer-centric.
  6. Consider behavioral (competency) interviewing as the gold standard in assessing applicants.
  7. Presume the most effective method of improving diversity recruiting is to simply increase the number of diversity recruitment sources (i.e. niche websites, universities, ethnic organizations, and associations).

As you can see, the use of job postings that fail to engage the most qualified, passive candidates is the beginning of a downward spiral in the recruiting process. An ineffective job posting that depends on costly advertising yields an applicant pool that is heavy on active applicants, but light on passive candidates who are often more diverse and represent a wider “gene pool” of quality applicants. A selection process that focuses on unproven competencies rather than documented job performance often fails to accurately predict on-the-job success. The ultimate result of this process are dissatisfied hiring managers, candidates who are poorly suited for the positions, and a talent acquisition process that does not meet the strategic needs of the organization.

Tomorrow, I will highlight the seven habits (and the prevailing talent mindset) of recruiters who are effective in hiring the best employees at the lowest cost, in the shortest timeframe, and at the highest quality.

Glenn Powell is a speaker, writer, and fervent practitioner of all things HR. At Georgia Regents University, he is charged with the employment equity function, which focuses on creation of an environment which supports a high-quality workforce. He has been an HR business partner at the division, and corporate levels in such diverse industries as mining, chemicals, oil and gas, higher education, and healthcare. His special interest is in performance-based talent acquisition, which he feels is the “silver bullet” for optimizing cost, time, and quality of hire.


4 Comments on “What Unsuccessful Recruiters Are Doing Wrong

  1. I agree completely. I prefer to outbound call candidates than do Advertising. I would rather do my research on candidates before I call them so they feel as though I have done research on them and I know they will be a fit if they are ready to make a change. And, when I first speak with a candidate, i don’t approach specifics until I get to a point where we have bonded on some topics and they get that I am in this for the relationship and I need to make sure they are as well.

  2. The one mistake I have made lately though, is that it turns out companies are ramping up heavily on retention bonuses. I actually had two candidates this year myself who signed offer letters only to decide to not leave after their current company gave them significant reason to stay. in one case $100k. I even saw IBM is offer $25k to some candidates to stay. What I am saying is ask that question early on and ask it again throughout the process…Will you stay if the company offers you a retention bonus? Establish and re-confirm What they want/need to leave so they are committed to leaving if you get that for them.

  3. hello, interesting discussion with plenty of good points. one additional thing they do wrong, and which is linked to their number strategy, is digital screening.
    This leads them to scan for skills and diplomas (a very nice umbrella for HR managers) instead of people and achievements.

  4. I will add to this list:

    1. Spend less than an average of one minute per resume.

    2. Digital screening – which might throw out a genius simply because the “word count” sucked.

    3. Tossed a resume because of a small grammatical error (Is there anyone who has not proof read a hundred times and STILL missed an error?)

    4. Did not actually THINK about the potential of someone who wrote a resume that was “different”, ie – used small words, short sentences and never once used “synergistic” or “engagement” or (pick your favorite catch word) LOL

    5. Ignores the above three items – how many Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and more have been passed over due to the first three items?

    Did you notice my intentional error before you read this sentence?

    Would that have forced my resume to be tossed or would you still consider it?

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