Bid Perfect's guide to Agile Recruiting.
How long have some of your permanent vacancies been open? I have worked as a recruiter for many years and have found that some hiring managers are not properly sense-testing why they are hiring. Perhaps that is a sign of naivety, as not all hiring managers are actually experienced in hiring and that is where an experienced recruiter will support them through the process.
Let’s look behind the hiring rationale. What happened? Someone resigned, or was let go, the head count is there so the next step in the process is to get HR to pull out that (often very old) template job spec and send it out to the job board.
It is not typical for any group of hiring managers to really challenge the reason for the hire, the recruitment process or the job specification.
Hiring managers often have an ‘ideal’ in mind and can issue a wish list instead of a well thought through job and person specification. The job specifics should always be robustly challenged and reviewed
It should also be well written, clearly communicate the role, the level of responsibility and expectation of performance in plain English. That means; don’t use internal ‘job speak’ and corporate gobbledygook. I am convinced that some companies have evil elves working on job templates and who seem hell bent on making them as complex and incomprehensible as possible. Usually, someone, somewhere, some time ago, sat in a chair chewing on a pen and thought about what they would like and then HR put a lot of hurdles in it.
Why not take a different approach?
To start off, ask the following;
Why are you recruiting? Resignation? Why? (Difficult boss? Demotivated team? Underpaid for the market place? Terrible commute? Development?). Or is this a new role? Why has it been created, is it a mark of success of the company and business growth? If so, that is a really strong selling point.
After determining the real reasons behind this hire, look at the functions that are actually required and not frilly add-ons. This is important, as the frilly add-ons may significantly reduce your candidate pool:
• the actual function required in the work place/team/department,
• the structure of the existing team/department,
• the technical/operations skill gaps that exist,
• the personalities in the mix currently – what personal strengths will complement them?
• the strategic end aims of the department/business,
• the level of the role and the remuneration and benefits attached to it,
• why someone would want to work for them,
• what is ‘stand out’ about the company and the role,
• what personal development can your new recruit expect and where can they progress too?
Be realistic: if the salary is mediocre, the team dispirited, the work environment a bit chaotic and stressful, an existing blame culture, lack of strong direction, no real personal development – why would an excellent candidate want to work for you? The message being, find a capable, available candidate who is in budget and can commute to the workplace easily. Done.
I recently spent over an hour taking a brief from a hiring manager who gave me a rather long wish list of what he wanted to see in candidates. To wrap it up I asked a few key questions – why someone would be drawn to the role and the company, what was the salary band and benefits, what kind of progression could they expect within the company? What was the working environment like? The team spirit? The company culture?
The hiring manager struggled to answer these questions and couldn’t tell me anything about the salary band and benefits available. Significantly, he could describe forever what HE wanted. Both HR and Hiring Managers must not lose sight of what is important to the candidate, and it is easy; they just have to think about what is important to them: getting well rewarded for performance, clearly defined personal development, working in a vibrant, challenging, but fun environment that is friendly and supportive, being excited about the project and possibilities, being motivated, and simply being valued by your boss.
Significantly, these days there is one important practical issue that continually comes up as a major factor for candidates and that can be overlooked by some employers: it is about having a reasonable commute OR flexible working, or both.
You can instantly increase your available talent pool by around 50% by giving this flexibility.
Employers have to make themselves attractive to bring in the best talent and the really successful and forward thinking companies know this and operate in this way. However, from my seat as a recruiter, since the recession hit, employers have become a little lazy in this regard and a little arrogant and then wonder why they are not getting the calibre of candidate they really want.
The tide is turning, particularly in some hot sectors, business is picking up, and companies are hiring again but perhaps need reminding about what it takes to successfully engage with the best candidates.
Further points to consider around your interview process, you now have strong candidates in the mix. Don’t have unreal expectations, don’t expect them to jump through burning hoops, wearing a tutu and juggling jelly (metaphorically speaking). Do not over indulge in decision by committee. Do not have too much reliance on psychometric test outcomes, they are designed to always show negatives as well as the strong points. Therefore, don’t be alarmed by the weak points, we all have them. That is human nature. It is often how someone is directed, managed and motivated. Therefore if the major ingredients are there and they can ‘do the job’ maybe, dare I say it, that will be fine?
So – make a decision – you have the three month probation rule for a reason. If you don’t make a decision you risk seriously hacking off that ‘in demand’ candidate. I know, I am on the receiving end of that trying to manage it diplomatically. As a general rule you should be able to respond in two to three days after final interview, not two to three weeks later. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, which should then always be communicated to the candidates rather than a vacuum of information. When that happens what does it say about you and your company as employers? At best that you are indecisive and at worst – plain rude. It isn’t great PR for your company if that happens a lot and in some companies - it happens a lot.
In a competency based interview candidates are often asked questions around empathy with team mates and awareness of the impact of actions on others. Hiring Managers and HR should out of courtesy turn that around and display empathy for your candidate and awareness of impact of your actions on them!
I would propose a rule: if the role is open more than 60 days, the hiring manager loses the head count.
That might focus attention on how important the function is and whether it actually needs to be filled.
Director of Talent Acquisition
Bid Perfect Ltd.