I’ve noticed a significant upswing of emotional posts (rants) on the part of recruiters, hiring managers, candidates, and CEOs all on the subject of recruiting. Having been in all of these roles at one point or another, I can easily understand why. There is a strong perception of a general lack of professional courtesy from all sides that stems from a system that was broken to begin with and only gets worse with a reliance on technology. I recently spoke on the subject of recruiting and hiring best practices to a group of small business owners and entrepreneurs, so I’ve been giving this quite some thought.
There are really two camps an employer can fall into. Those who see employees as valued partners in growing and running a business, and those who think people are expendable commodities not deserving of respect or timely communication. I’ve certainly run into my share of both but actually refuse to work with the latter anymore (and don’t suggest you do, either) so I’ll focus on the former.
Unfortunately, an employer can value employees very highly but come across as though they don’t due to broken or damaged processes. Here’s my experience of how the recruiting process tends to work in small to medium sized businesses. Either an employee leaves, or the volume of work becomes overwhelming and the hiring manager and his/her supervisor(s) agree that another employee or two is needed. A job description is unearthed (or created), which is then copied and pasted onto job boards, and HR (or the hiring manager) begins receiving resumes. These folks typically look mainly at previous titles and tenures, ‘weeding out’ folks based on lack of meeting the criteria.
Then either an HR person, or hiring manager conducts a phone screen or in person interview with a candidate. Not always, but usually this falls to either a hiring manager with no interviewing training, or an HR person with no technical understanding of the job (and sometimes no interviewing training either). This allows for the possibility (probability if we’re being realistic) of illegal questions and improper screening. Candidates who are not selected are rarely contacted again. Candidates who are selected are not always given the time and attention they need during the first month to effectively acclimate to their new environment in order to become as effective as possible.
Frustrating (to say the least), but for most companies, that’s the only way they know.
Often companies and candidates choose the recruiter route. Unfortunately, this often just creates another layer for potential miscommunication, and added expense. Before all the recruiters get mad at me (and I often do serve as recruiter for my clients, so I’m not taking shots at you) it’s very difficult for them to provide service when clients don’t communicate changes in their needs, feedback on candidates, or don’t make decisions.
In all cases, the problems are reduced significantly by instituting formalized hiring processes, holding all parties accountable for professional communication, and ensuring adequate interviewing training is provided.
But I think it goes deeper than that.
The problem with this whole system is that it often starts with when the hiring need is recognized. This means that right out of the gate, everybody’s acting more reactively than proactively. Not many people are able to make good decisions when they’re rushed, fearful, or otherwise under the gun, and hiring is a major decision. A perception of scarcity encourages companies to rush through creating the job description, posting, interviews, etc. Candidates who similarly feel desperate apply for jobs they don’t want or aren’t qualified for just to get ‘something’.
We all know that activity reduces anxiety, regardless of the value of the activity. With both parties in the process doing ‘something’ to alleviate their fear, good decisions don’t happen.
To get out of the rat trap, companies can take the first step by taking time when there aren’t urgent hiring needs to craft their hiring strategy (for more information on this, see Bonus 3 – Designing your Hiring Process, in the Leadership Toolbox on my site).
During this stage, companies should take a thorough look at the current structure with an eye for not only today, but also towards what will be needed in one and five years’ time if anticipated revenue goals are hit. If you’re company is in ‘the zone’ of transitioning from $5 million to $25 million, or from $55 million to $100 million over the next few years, you need to be especially vigilant about creating structures that allow for the communication and handoffs that will be required with the added volume, as well as the need to develop more formalized systems and processes. This likely means that the current positions need to be re-examined.
As a result, companies should emerge with an idea of the responsibilities and skillsets that will be required in the future. This will allow for a proactive building of a pipeline in anticipation of future needs.
At the end of the day, this isn’t ‘science’ or processes. It’s people talking to people. If your employees love working for you, they’ll tell other people. If you love your company, you’ll be excited about it. There’s no shame in meeting people now even if you don’t have a hiring need. If you know who you’re looking for, you can start meeting them. Build a network, make friends, and keep in touch. That way, when it is time to hire someone, you’ll know exactly what it will take to fill the position and hopefully you’ll already know someone. And, if you don’t have the perfect person already in your network, and need to search, at least you’ll be calm and prepared, as will your hiring managers and HR team to competently assess the perfect candidate.
And make sure to let everyone you interview know when you’ve made a choice. That’s just good manners.
Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people. With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work. Carrie can be reached for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org