A 10-Part Rx for Hiring Better People in 2010
Over the past year, I’ve been making the case that the best people – the top-third of your future workforce – won’t look for jobs, nor decide which one to take, based on the primary sourcing processes you now use. Making matters worse, traditional behavioral and competency interviewing are not designed to differentiate between the best and least best of your fully-qualified candidates, even if you can find them. To address these issues, fundamental changes are required to improve the overall talent level of your company as the economy improves.

The big one is to refocus all sourcing efforts towards finding candidates before, or as soon as, they enter the market. This needs to be combined with a complete redesign of the initial engagement to maximize interest. Time of possession and prospect to candidate conversion rates are the critical variables here. If you find some good people long after they’ve started looking, you’ll either lose out to the early-birds or wind up paying unnecessary salary premiums. On the other hand, if you find a lot more top people earlier in their job hunting process, it won’t matter if you can’t get them to seriously consider what you have to offer. With these points in mind, here is a collection of prescriptive ideas you should consider if you want to raise your company’s talent level:

1. Start measuring how long candidates have been looking. While there are some good active candidates, if you don’t get them first you’ll be hiring the leftovers. These are always in the bottom-half.

2. Measure quality of hire. If you’re not measuring quality of hire pre- and post-hire, how can you possibly know what you’re doing, or see if you’re getting better?

3. Reduce opt-outs by inserting a formal step after finding the ad but before applying. The best people will never apply without gaining more information, so make sure they have multiple means to get it from you, including online chat, a call with a recruiter, and an exploratory conversation with a hiring manager. By making this the default step in your hiring process, you’ll minimize the number of strong people who normally opt out.

4. Provide candidates a formal means to evaluate your jobs from a career vs. lateral transfer perspective. The best people use a broader range of evaluation criteria to determine which job offers the best long-term career move. Why not use a formal means for candidates to get this information from you rather than leave it to chance?

5. Stop posting ads, especially boring job descriptions. Job descriptions turn off the best people and only attract those fully-qualified candidates who have time to look and apply. This is rarely the top-third. Instead of posting individual reqs, since they’re so hard to find, use talent hubs. If you must post an ad at least make it career-focused and compelling.

6. Make sure your recruiters can attract and influence the top-third.

7. Make sure your hiring managers can engage and hire the top-third. Half of your hiring managers are below average and most of these can’t convince the top-third to work for them. To get them proficient right away you might want to buy them a copy of my book, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 2007), and make them read it. Alternatively, send them to our hiring manager training course and don’t let them leave. I wrote the book to ensure my hiring manager clients hired the strongest person possible even if they didn’t have great assessment skills.

8. Don’t let hiring managers make the decision alone. Most managers make short term decisions based on their need to fill the position combined with a strong dose of gut feelings. Worse, the bottom-half can’t assess the top-half, and just about everyone overvalues skills and experiences. If you want to raise your company’s talent level, you’ll need to make the assessment a group decision with someone objective ensuring you’re raising the bar.

9. Measure the financial impact of not hiring the top-third for each hiring decision. For non-managerial positions the financial cost of not hiring the top-third is at least 50-150 percent of the person’s direct compensation. For critical staff and management positions it’s far greater. This alone suggests measuring the financial impact the person is likely to make as part of a formal assessment.

10. Stop using traditional behavioral interviewing. Competencies, skills, experiences, and behaviors are not transferable from company to company or manager to manager. Unless tied to some type of job analysis, traditional behavioral interviewing can only prevent most mistakes, but not figure out whether the person is a top-third or a dud. We developed the Performance-based Interview to accurately measure fit across multiple dimensions (job, manager, environment, culture, team) when used in combination with a Performance Profile and 10-Factor Talent Scorecard.

Of course, as part of this, you also need to write better consumer-oriented advertising, create talent pools, use search engine optimization techniques, expand your Web 2.0 social media presence, etc., but don’t expect any better results since everyone is doing this already. This will just keep you where you are today. The ten Rx ideas above, in combination with a company-endorsed raising the bar strategy, is what you’ll need to do to get ahead of the pack. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it right away if you’d like to understand how to develop this type of strategy for your company.