Notable points of failure in recruiting

I thought I’d write a blog post about failure, as often it’s where the best lessons come from. Below is a list of some of the key areas recruitment fails in, and how you can mitigate against them.

Time kills all deals

Companies tend to hire when they’re so busy with their work they need more help. It’s easy in this situation to leave the hiring work until after the ‘real’ work is done. Going through CVs, or writing solid descriptive job advertisements can be left as an afterthought to the day or, worse still, to be done in the hirer’s ‘spare’ time. This can similarly affect turnaround times on feedback and interviews. There are two major problems with this – firstly, it sends a message to the seekers interested in your company that you don’t have the time to develop the company and ergo the staff and culture. Secondly, if they are a high calibre candidate (and let’s face it, that’s what you want to hire) someone else will have snapped them up before you get the chance to interview.

Interview processes that last weeks and months will reduce the pool of people who will see through the process. Ideally you want the most people with the right skill-set and aptitude to pick from – not just those who jumped through the most hoops and remained on the market for months on end.

Schedule recruitment into your day or week as a must-do task, give it equal priority to the other work you have on. If you can’t, find someone who can or reduce your other tasks. Booking time out in your calendar as busy and reviewing your recruiting once a week is a great way to keep on top of this.

Feedback (turning people down positively)

Sometimes companies don’t want to give feedback on interview rejection. Reasons not to give feedback are solid: e.g. the seeker might wish to argue the grounds, or worse still create a hostile environment (I had one seeker chase down the interviewer on Twitter to argue the toss and then email them to to say they’d got it wrong… ack). But feedback can create a positive loop for you and your process, by allowing those who’ve spent time going through it to leave feeling good and that their time was valued. The ideal outcome would be a seeker recommending you to their peers despite an unsuccessful application, rather than warning everyone they know to steer clear. Feedback doesn’t have to be negative, it’s about finding the useful learning from the situation and keeping it short and sweet.

Being flexible

The quickest and best team builds we’ve done were where the client was flexible in their requirements. Working on-site vs off-site, rates of pay, being open to (code) language switchers, hours of work are all common requests from the most talented seekers we’ve worked with – but are often dismissed out of hand by companies because “that isn’t what currently happens”. The companies who are open and flexible to seekers’ requirements are the ones making the best hires, and they also find that this flexibility helps them gain more from folks when they do work there. If you insist on hiring unicorns that must jump over all the bars you set you will waste a lot of money, a lot of time, and frustrate good people along the way. See the seeker’s potential to help your company develop in the future, rather than their lack of exactness to pre-set past/current ideals, and your hiring will move on at a rate of knots – and you will make some great hires to boot. Think about the shape of the overall team, and not the individual to get some really corking hiring results.