Recruiting Isn’t Hard – Unless You Make These Five Mistakes

Written by Liz Ryan – Forbes Leadership

If you want to observe a whine-fest of employers complaining about nothing,just Google the term “talent shortage” and scan some of the four million-plus search results.

Of course you would think there’s a talent shortage when you design impossible jobs that also pay peanuts, write delusional job specs and expect the world to beat a path to your door!

Recruiting is far and away the most broken corporate practice, and that’s saying a lot — because most corporate practices are broken!

Recruiting takes the lead, followed by the annual performance review process, which costs a fortune and accomplishes nothing.

Why is recruiting so broken? It’s simply the inability to tell the truth. Companies that keep a firm grasp on reality have no trouble filling their open positions.

They steer clear of the five fatal recruiting mistakes that other employers make:

  • Designing impossible roles
  • Writing hallucinatory job specs
  • Paying galley-slave wages
  • Screening out talent with Applicant Tracking Systems, and
  • Beating great applicants away with a stick through inhuman recruiting practices

All you have to do to hire great people is to use a professional recruitment company. They will help avoid these five major gaffes. It isn’t hard, but it requires a change in your attitude. You have to give up the idea that the employer is mighty just because they have a job to fill. That idea went away with cradle-to-grave employment.

Nowadays the employers that can snag talent are the ones that value talent and are proud to show it!

Designing Impossible Roles

The first big recruiting problem starts at the job creation stage. Managers stuff ten lbs. of who-knows-what in a five-lb. bag and expect one super-multi-skilled job applicant to walk in and solve all their problems.

Good HR people prevent that from happening. When I was an HR leader, I told some of our more greedy managers “Either you kill half the requirements in this job, or I will – and I don’t know what half of them mean, so it’ll be better if you make the cuts.”

I insisted on only recruiting living people, not magical beings from an alternate universe. I’m just funny that way! I don’t want to run ads and screen resumes only to find no qualified applicants in the bunch because the job itself is ridiculous and there’s no living person qualified for it.

Writing Hallucinatory Job Specs

Our friend Amy is a headhunter. She was visiting a client, a VP of HR for whom Amy fills a lot of positions.

The VP of HR, Morgan, was explaining a new position opening to Amy when another VP poked his head in Morgan’s office.

“Good thing you’re here, Amy!” said the VP, who ran the company’s Quality function. “I just got approval to hire a new engineer, and I’ve got the spec right here!”

“Can I see it?” asked Morgan, the HR chief. “Here it is!” said the Quality leader, handing over the written job spec.

“What is this three-letter acronym — the certification you’ve specified as an Essential Job Requirement?” Morgan asked the hiring manager. He listed the words behind the three-letter acronym.

“I’ve never heard of that one,” said Morgan. “Me, neither,” said Amy, who recruits technical people for a living.

“It’s new!” said the Quality guy. “I don’t know anything about it, but I want to get one on my team!” That’s a true story, and a sad statement about how some people recruit.

They make requirements mandatory that they don’t even understand themselves — as though more letters after a person’s name would make that person smarter or more capable!

Paying Galley-Slave Wages

It is time for every HR leader and hiring manager to give up the idea that the economy  hasn’t moved an inch since 2009 and qualified people are still scrambling for work. They aren’t. If you don’t know what a given job is worth in today’s marketplace, it’s your job to find out.

If you knowingly recruit for your open positions planning to pay less than the market does, you deserve the chirping crickets and disappointing responses you get.

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