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  • Michael Kerman

Fixing the Hiring Process

I estimate that I’ve spent at least 30% of my managerial career identifying, hiring, mentoring and retaining high-caliber talent. I’m really proud when I look around the industry and see many of my former direct reports now influential leaders and even C-level executives. I’ve also spent considerable time on the “other end”, as a job seeker. So, when it comes to this topic, I consider myself to be very well-versed.

As it stands today, the process is clearly broken:

  • Recruiters complain because they had great candidates lined-up but lost them because the hiring team was too slow or indecisive.

  • Hiring managers complain because they’re asked to review reams of resumes or applications, most of which are irrelevant.

  • Candidates complain because ATS applications limit any human-human interaction and when they do speak with a human, they get little valuable information and are generally kept “in-the-dark”

In the classic Agatha Christie novel, “Murder on the Orient Express”, the finale reveals that there wasn’t a single culprit. Instead, everyone was guilty of the crime. Such is the case with talent acquisition… everyone involved shares the blame.

Let’s start with the Hiring Manager. There are three mistakes hiring managers often make. The first is not truly securing approval for the job requisition. As a result, the job is active when the quarter looks good but every time a deal slips, the job is put “on hold”. This “on-again, off-again” situation puts recruiters and candidates in an impossible position. The second mistake is the job description. Most job descriptions are an endless list of requirements, often numbering 30 or more. Sure, everyone wants the ideal candidate but are you really willing to wait 9-12 months? If you can REALLY wait that long, maybe you really don’t need that role after all. Does that position REALLY need to be in HQ or can it be remote? Does “deep experience” means 8-10 years or 15+ years? The third mistake is the interview process. So many managers are simply unavailable or unresponsive during the qualification and interview process. In fact, it is not uncommon for rounds of interviews to be separated by weeks or months. The result is lots of “we lost that candidate” discussions.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Candidate. The first significant mistake candidates make is that they don’t read the job description. As a result, they send in resumes and applications for jobs for which they are clearly not qualified. While most applicant tracking system (ATS) applications usually make fast-work of rejecting these submissions, these applications do create extra work for recruiters and hiring managers alike. Secondly, so many candidates “embellish” their resume and submittals. Sometimes this is simply to “fool” the ATS application, sometimes it is a legitimate error but most often, it is just pure deception. Naturally, this causes lots of “false positives”, where the fakes steal valuable recruiter and hiring manager views and consideration. Lastly, candidates must do a better job during the interview process. Simple things like showing up (I just don’t get the whole “ghosting” trend), being on-time, doing your research ahead of time and being professional would dramatically improve the overall talent acquisition process.

Another “guilty” party is the Recruiter. Now, first I must issue a disclaimer. The recruiter is really in a tough position because they are at the mercy of the hiring manager AND the candidate, both of whom we’ve seen have less-than-ideal behaviors. I know a lot of internal and external recruiters and I admire their effort, their sincerity and everything they do to be effective matchmakers. However, I do believe that recruiters need to more aggressively manage their hiring manager “customers”. They need to make it clear what work, decisions, timeframes and costs will be necessary to land that “ideal candidate”. This means being extremely candid about what levels of compensation will be required. Trying to hire great talent at a discount is admirable, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. In addition, recruiters need to set candidates’ expectations regarding level of competition for the role, response timeframes and how the interview process will work.

I think we can all make a greater effort to improve how we handle hiring, recruiter and job seeking. While technology is a wonderful enabler, let’s be sure to keep the “human” in human capital management.

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