I started in HR as a Recruiting Coordinator in the days before ATS, smart phones, and any of the tools we think we needed to be effective in talent acquisition. Back then, I scored most of my gigs through staffing agencies, including my first job in HR. I worked with (and sometimes for) various staffing agencies and headhunters for several years. I started as a Silicon Valley recruiting coordinator and worked my way up to HR Manager/Recruiter. During that time, I screened a lot of resumes, made a lot of calls, and scheduled hundreds of interviews (including informational interviews), all while handling the day-to-day HR responsibilities and employee services such as benefits, employee relations, training, payroll, etc.
How Recruiting Used to Look
After a couple of years spent learning the ropes, I was introduced to the concept of an ATS. The first one I test drove was Resumix, which allowed us to keep “track” of the recruiting process, flag candidates based on qualifications, and document where they were in the process. It was a basic repository for resumes and candidates’ basic information, education, experience and other qualifications). This allowed us to follow up, follow through, and it was something we used to source candidates whenever we had new job openings. If we were unable to find the candidates, that was the only time we advertised the job. It was a time and cost saver.
Fast Forward to Today…
As systems like Resumix have gone from bit players to the main stage, the world of recruitment has transformed. Technology that was supposed to streamline the process has become a cumbersome, much-hated impediment.
- Too much reliance on ATS has made in-person connection almost nonexistent. No one wants to talk to their candidates anymore, unless the machine thinks they’re a great match. The problem with this is that a badly configured ATS can essentially reject all your qualified candidates. I know this first hand; I’ve seen it happened with a few clients repeatedly.
- Recruiters lost the human touch! They don’t want to connect to the candidates. They don’t want them to call, do a follow up, or take any action that requires a voice or email. They expect candidates to spend hours applying for jobs and customizing their resumes but then turn around and brag about glancing at resumes and taking less than a minute to review. Why is that? If you’re a candidate, is that how you would like to be treated?
- We’re stuck in the past, but not the distant past! It’s 2018, but many recruiting practices are from 2008-2010 and were adopted during the recession. Back then, candidates were abundant, and jobs were scarce! Recruiters ghosted candidates: no call, no feedback, no email. Employers had “upcredentialed” their job requirements, requiring pointless degrees and certifications; and downcredentialed their compensation, paying peanuts and offering barebones benefits. These were never sustainable practices, and a receding tide shows you who is swimming naked.
The economic pendulum has swung, but many recruitment practices haven’t changed, or even been challenged! So many articles are written about the skills gap, the pay gap, a low unemployment rate, and labor shortage reaching a critical point. Candidates are accepting multiple offers, ghosting recruiters, and generally exact payback for the poor way they were treated in the past. How has the recruiting community reacted—with adaptability, flexibility, and a willingness to cast aside irrational assumptions? NO! All we hear is whining and complaining!
Where Do We Go From Here?
It’s time to fix recruitment, and there is no better time than now! If you’re a recruiter/hiring manager, rebuild those relationships. Build another bridge, if the old one is burned.
Reevaluate Requirements and Compensation
Review and renew those job requirements to be more realistic. Update your salary ranges based on cutting-edge research that unveils the latest trends. The minimum wage is not the benchmark for determining compensation (and anyone who thinks these assertions are overly obvious hasn’t spent enough time studying recruiting boards).
Offer Generation-Specific Benefits
Review those benefits and see how you can meet the varying needs of workers from different generations. It’s doable, and there are companies doing this now, including small and medium organizations. Let’s put the paragons on a pedestal and follow their lead (what’s the opposite of internet “shaming”?)
Fix or Ditch Your ATS
It should take less than 5 minutes to complete an application, not 4 hours! Stop asking for reams of information when you haven’t even decided whether or not the candidate is moving to a step in the process that would require that information. Start filling the gaps in your recruitment process. You don’t need to bring the candidates to a 4th interview.
Change your mind set when it comes to slapping pointless labels on candidates, and wriggle out of the crippling mental straight-jacket that insists that every other candidate is:
- Overqualified (Really? Does it matter? Says who!?)
- Underqualified (What about training? Not offered? Why?!?!?) Job titles are not enough to gauge someone’s experience and expertise. Just because I never had an official title of “Recruiter”, “Total Rewards”, etc. doesn’t mean I don’t have the full experience of that position. As a former department-of-one it just meant I was in-charge of it all. As much as we’re changing job titles (Recruiting = Talent Acquisition), why use titles in qualifying candidates?
- Unemployed (Relevance, your honor?)
- Lacking enough salary history (So the F what?)
- Has a criminal history (Not all criminal records are created equal, and some convictions are frivolous or unjust!)
- Lacking culture fit (I call BS)
- Too old/too young (Before you scream “But my organization isn’t ageist!” look around and make really, really sure that demographic reality is represented)
View Experience More Holistically
Learn how to map out transferrable skills within your organization. Being too rigid about industry experience could be hurting you. Experience in another industry experience can give your team a fresher set of eyes to give and a valuable external perspective (Where did Alan Mulally work before tearing it up at Ford?) Offer on-the-job training if you’re unable to perfect skill-set matches. Stop the upcredentialing and start looking at candidates holistically. Lose the ineffectual, intellectually bankrupt, cookie-cutter approach!
To say recruitment is broken is stating the obvious. The fixes are also obvious if we’re willing to acknowledge them.