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Hiring Usually Gets In the Way Just When You're Trying to Get Something Done

Posted by Bob Corlett on August 22, 2013

In a small organization, hiring gets in the way just when you’re trying to get something done. When you have your sights set on a new goal, you're excited and ready to get moving! But then an avalanche of complexity rains down on you. You have to stop and write up a job description in that stiff  bureaucratic language loved only by lawyers. Then you need to get approval for the new job, budget for it by taking a wild guess at the salary (locking yourself into a salary before you have any idea what the good people actually cost). Next you have to write a job advertisement, think about how much you want to spend on the ad and think about where to post it. The whole business is uncomfortable, unfamiliar and extraordinarily time consuming.

Unfortunately, once you finally manage to post the job ad, things get even more complex. Now you have a stack of resumes to deal with. So you spend even more precious time sorting through and deciphering the resumes. Often the resumes that fit your ideal mental picture turn out to be terrible candidates. And you have the nagging feeling that buried in that stack of underwhelming resumes might be someone far better than their resume indicates, but should you spend even more effort sorting through hoping to find that diamond in the rough? Really, how many frogs must you kiss just on the hopes of finding a prince? You'll probably just get warts - and lose more time. And the cherry on the top of the misery sundae is knowing that only 18% of fully-employed candidates will ever see your ad, no matter where you post it. Yup, 4 out of 5 people are busy working, and not reading job ads, so most of your ideal candidates never made it into that stack of resumes.

So you finally get to the bottom of the stack of resumes and look at the meager handful of candidates that meet some of your requirements. By this point, you're only mildly depressed, so you begin interviewing the candidates. The first candidate arrives in your reception area. You shake their hand, bring them in, and look down at your notes. And only then do you realize that you really have no idea what to ask them about, or how to guage their answers. You don't have a rigorous evaluation framework, no method to test the candidate's credentials in critical areas. So you wing it, and hope you find a candidate who impresses you. But the skills that impress people in an interview are not necessarily the skills that make someone successful on the job.

Often, after all the interviews, nobody really impressed you. Exhausted by the prospect of starting everything over again, you decide instead to select one of the people you've already met, knowing they're less than ideal. And since you settled for "the best of the worst," you resign yourself to their inevitable mediocre job performance.  Of course, you would like to replace them with someone better, who wouldn't? But, you did the best you could, and came up short, so hoping for better is futile. Of course pushing someone mediocre to meet your ideal goals is risky, so you stop bothering and accept what you get from them. After all, they would be miserably difficult to replace.

Yeah, in a small organization, no matter how many times you've gone through the hiring process, it just feels like you’re doing it for the first time, every time. Every position is different, so you can never approach hiring with real knowledge of who is available to you in the job market. You never actually know if you are looking at a representative sample of the best people who could do the job. You simply have nowhere to turn to ask if you should recruit more people, pay more, change the title, or rethink how you designed the job. It feels like you're just guessing at everything, with no real answers.

Hiring Managers, the only real solution to this problem is to get it off your desk ... all of it, not just the little tasks other people are willing to help with. Find someone who will accept the responsibility for the entire outcome- finding you productive staff members. Because it's not good enough to give away little pieces of the hiring process, that still leaves you saddled with the problem.

When delegating the problem who should you look for? Find someone with job market knowledge that informs every aspect of the hiring process. You need someone to provide input into how to design the job, someone who can tell you how your job compares to other jobs in similar organizations, someone who can write compelling job descriptions that get a movie playing in the mind of your ideal candidates. But you also need to reach the 82% of people who don't look at job ads--if you want the best people, you need to recruit them, not just hope they apply. You need someone who understands job seeker behavior and adapts to emerging job market trends like mobile recruiting. You need real market data to decide when you have enough good candidates to move forward with interviews, and when to hold back.  And you need a rigorous hiring process to help you interview effectively and reduce your hiring risk. That's a long list of requirements, but falling short in any area only leaves you saddled with the hiring problem, instead of working on your goals.

Topics: Hiring Process