Memo To A Hiring Manager

TO: Hiring Manager

FROM: Recruiting Leader

Although you only hire a handful of people each year, it seems that it takes longer and longer to find the right person.   And, many of the people you see are not really what you wanted.  You have to ask to see more resumes and, frankly, hiring people has become a bit of a pain!

You may be asking yourself, are the recruiters less capable?  What’s stopping them from finding the people I want? Is it our brand keeping the best folks away? 

The answer to those questions is getting more complex.  It used to be simple to say it was the recruiter’s fault, the brand, or the salary ranges.  But it is far more complicated than that.  There is a perfect storm of events that have combined to create the situation you find yourself in. The pandemic has changed attitudes toward work; people are looking for flexibility and less hierarchy. There are fewer qualified people seeking work, and entrepreneurship is growing.

But there are ways to improve the situation.

Acknowledge That There ARE Fewer Qualified People

First of all, let’s acknowledge that there are fewer qualified people out there who want jobs. The labor force participation rates among adults have been declining for the past 25 years. Organizations worldwide have neglected employee development and opted instead to steal talent from one another. There are also fewer people graduating from universities with specific skills you need, and there are changing attitudes about work that have contributed to an increasingly limited talent supply. There has been a dramatic shift in how to think about talent. Forward-looking leaders are seeking specific skills they can use and the general ability of those they hire. The higher the aptitude of the people you hire, the better they will adapt to changing strategies and new technologies. This ability is much more important than having a pedigree or experience in work that is becoming obsolete.

Know What You Really Want

If I were to ask you a few questions about the people you are looking for, could you answer them with solid, quantitative or well thought out information?   For example: How do you define “decent” people or the “best?”  Do you have some specific criteria that you use?  What skills are critical to what you need and which are just nice to have? How much time do you spend in the upfront process of figuring out the job requirements? How do you define what a successful candidate would accomplish in the first six months or so? Do you invest in training and development? This is one of the most desired factors in choosing an employer.

In my many years as a recruiter and as a consultant, I find that this is the area most frequently overlooked or skimped on in the hiring process.  Most of the hiring managers I work with are willing to spend time interviewing and often demand that candidates go through numerous interviews. Still, they are less clear about what they are actually looking for or will make a difference once hired. This requires some hard, upfront thinking and analysis.

My guess is you’re running on your gut – telling yourself that you know the “best” when you see it.  After all, you’ve been in your field for a while and can generally spot a loser. If you are lucky, you’ve had a recruiter at some time in the past who could always seem to get you the perfect candidate, but you’ve never asked yourself why they could do that or how. 

We all unconsciously look for certain traits in people, and we are usually very adept at determining whether or not a candidate has those traits.  What is unfortunate is that we rarely can articulate them.  And even though we may believe that we are choosing candidates solely based on experience and demonstrated skills, our unconscious influences the decision. Our biases often come back to haunt us.

Know Your Best Performers

Spend some time thinking about your best performers.  Who are the people in your department you would like to clone if you could? Try to put why you think they are so good into words.  Here are a few questions that you can use: What does this person regularly pleases you?  What positive behaviors do you regularly see that you believe make them successful?  Have they been open to and able to adapt to change? Are they fast learners? The more you can tell a recruiter about these things, the better the candidates you will see. Take some time to talk to the recruiters about past or current employees who you view as exceptional and why.

Know Your Recruiter

If your recruiter is new or has not worked with you before, it will be impossible for her to know what you are really looking for. And, even an experienced recruiter who knows your specialty thoroughly will have to learn those subtle traits you find compelling. Let the recruiter spend a day shadowing you and discuss how you manage.  Let them attend staff meetings or a briefing.  The better you and the recruiter know each other, the more likely you will see great candidates.

You can help your recruiting staff in several ways.  By taking a few minutes to do these things, you will find the recruiting process faster and more satisfying because you will be getting candidates that meet ALL of your requirements.

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