The 17 Dumbest Things in Recruiting

Here are the 17 "dumbest things in recruiting" according to Dr. John Sullivan in his recent ERE article. I've seen some strong reactions to this article from recruiters, so before you read it, decide to keep an open mind. First of all, Dr. John likes to push generates some interesting discussion. Sometimes it's fun to participate in the discussion...sometimes it's just fun to watch.  Let your buttons get pushed but don't take it personally. His goal is to move the recruiting profession forward. He speaks the truth...albeit quite bluntly (you know i don't have a problem with that). Anyway, here are his 17 things with my comments/interpretation:

Dumb things...

1) Lame Corporate Employment Websites. In the world of up-to-the-minute info and opinions on demand, it's hard for them not to be lame. If a true marketing professional isn't involved in developing your corporate website, you got a bit of a problem. Job agents are gaining popularity in this world of syndication and "deliver it to my inbox" mentality. Job seekers like to see/meet real employees so profiles or "meet our employees" pages are good. Also, having some kind of feedback mechanism is important. If your corporate jobs site stinks, you don't want to be the last to know.

2) Hiring Administrator as Recruiters. As recruiting becomes more automated, the days of the paper-pusher as recruiter are gone. Add (real) value or be gone.

3) Relying on Resumes. This is more a commentary on the system of recruiting. Making a change here requires hiring organizations to get more involved in the recruiting process. If recruiters are going to recruit off of bios, recruiter requisition loads need to go down and they need to have closer alignment to the businesses (both). Recruiting passive candidates works best when the hiring group is involved and able to sell the job (remember that candidates would rather talk to their potential manager than the recruiter). The recruiter can get them interested in the company, but the client needs to help get them there for the interview.  

4)Over-reliance on Interviews. I think he's talking about *traditional* interviews. If you can get a candidate to demonstrate some key competencies like problem solving in an interview, you are lessening the risk involved in hiring a new employee. It will always be a risk. Some people will always interview better than they perform and vice versa. Do what you can to mitigate the risk by simulating real-world scenarios in the interview process.

5) Lack of Formal Retention Efforts. I don't know of a company where recruiters were responsible for retention. But as a recruiter, insist that someone is responsible for it.

6) Reliance on Job Boards. Key word here is "reliance". You can never *count* on any one source..on the flip side, candidates should not count on only job boards (everybody network!). Eggs, baskets...etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

7) Antiquated approached to Diversity Recruiting. Last week I talked about finding out where your best employees come from. Your recruiting strategies should be informed by some kind of data. Some of that data should involve *why* those employees joined your company (and why they stay). This applies to diversity recruiting. You should be able to slice this data to understand where your best Director level folks are coming from, where your best diverse folks are coming from, etc., etc.. If you go out and talk to these great employees, you can't help but gain some insight to recruiting others like them 

8) Reactive recruiting. Like I said, develop a strategy. Don't just rely on active candidates coming to you. At the end of the day, you don't have control over who comes to you, but you do have control over who you call.

9) Absence of a Recruiting Strategy. Like I said...get one...based on the profiles of your top performing employees.

10) The Over-hyped Importance of Applicant Tracking Systems. I guess they are over-hyped unless you have one that is not working for you. Needless to say, those of us in the recruiting space do get tired of hearing about year's most over-hyped topic: assessment systems. Whee!

11) Failing to Convert Metrics to Dollars. Your clients don't measure their business results based on your time to fill their position. What they care about is/are achieving business objectives. If you want to be their business partner, you'll package your results in the context of things they care about.

12) Failure to Understand a Candidate's Job Acceptance Criteria. OK, this is recruiting 101. You start closing the candidate on the position when you start speaking to them. Know why they are looking (or why they would accept a new position if they aren't) and make sure that your offer is positioned in a way that would appeal to their reasoning.

13) Lack of Competitive Analysis. If you want to recruit people from your competitors but don't take the time to know what is going on at those companies, you could be wasting your time. Understanding the competitive landscape is important to your credibility with both your internal clients and your candidates. Truly knowing your space separates great recruiters from the rest.

14) Participation in Job Fairs. I've blogged about this already. They are over, in my opinion (and they hurt my feet). And I always caught a cold afterward. Nobody ever caught a cold from the Internet.

15) College Information Sessions. I've never done college recruiting but I think a more targeted approach is probably more effective.

16) Strangers versus Known Candidates. This is why networking is so important. Hiring someone you know is much less risky than hiring someone you don't know. This is exactly why my role is focused on community building versus mining folks off of

17) A Cursory Global Approach. OK, he got me on this one. We have subsidiary offices that recruit for their own positions. I'm not sure that I could guarantee a mix of US and international candidates for all positions. The budget implications of creating a global recruiting strategy for each role seems a little daunting (and not particularly practical). However, if he's talking about broadening recruiting efforts for parts of your business to take advantage of highly skilled workers in particular geographies, then I get it. For example, anyone recruiting technical folks knows about the high availability of excellent technical talent in India. So for companies that have a large number of these kinds of positions should definitely create strategies to recruit out of these geographies.

Let's just hope that in 2005, we can get this down to 15 or 16 stupid things, according to Dr. John. This was a long post and don't we want to feel like we are making some progress folks?

Comments (4)
  1. Pradeep says:

    seems to me like that the whole list would be summed to increase returns and reduce risk of resource invested in recruiting activities.

    But then here is a question which is marketing-led….

    would a candidate be expected to fit-in and do-as-directed or shake-up and question-assumptions? as in is there even a recruiting agenda for hiring shakers and change agents?

    and if the answer is yes – do these rules/thoughts even apply?

  2. Questor says:

    RE: hiring movers and shakers

    One hiring manager who worked at a place otherwise celebrating itself as a haven for creatives and innovatives said, "Oh sure, our ads say we want self-motivated individual thinkers. But if we ever made the mistake of hiring one, he’d be out of here in 6 months to a year, if he even lasted that long. What we really reward here is conformity. Any time I’ve wanted to hire someone who could change things around here, those up above said they weren’t a good fit."

  3. Heather says:

    Pradeep-the answer is yes. The key is knowing when to "do as directed" and when to "shake things up". Innovative companies build it into their interview process (hard to tell this from a resume)…um, except at the company Questor is talking about I guess.

    As a candidate, you can find this out about a company by asking about their tolerance for critical feedback and risk taking. And then ask for examples.

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