A Hiring Tale...Is It Time For a Change?

Recently a company that I know well went through an interesting hiring adventure. Their story is typical and companies of all types experience these same particulars every day. You’d think that the pain of having to endure wasted time, poor decisions, and missed opportunities would change the way we go about hiring, but we’ve been doing it this way for decades and change is hard. The interesting thing is that for quite some time we have had at our disposal the systems that can change the story I am about to tell. Stay tuned and afterwards I will tell you where they are…

Like any other company, they placed a handful of ads at places that would grab the attention of the type of people they needed. After a while people started replying to the ads. Of course the company requested a resume from each person that was interested. There were about 15-20 that came from people that did the work at companies the recruiter recognized. Other than that, most of these 20 resumes pretty much had similar bullet points of work they did and the types of things they were able to accomplish.

Essentially, the basis the recruiter used to cull out people they wanted to pursue was the reputation of the company that the person currently worked at, the school and type of degree the person earned, the tenure they had at each of their career stops and the ones that were able to craft the best looking resume. He took the best ten and then ranked them top to bottom. I actually got a chance to see these ten resumes, only reviewing the best and the worse of the bunch. For the life of me, I didn’t see a whole lot of difference between these two resumes. This company was big on phone screen calls, so the hiring manager got on the phone and started at the top of the list and moved down until she had 3-4 people to invite in for an interview. She called, and called and called…and after conducting nine fifty to sixty minute phone calls (added up about a full day…) had found three people to invite for interviews. She was pretty frustrated for having to spend so much time.

I asked the recruiter what had happened and he told me that she found most of them to be weak on answering her questions fully, were obviously nervous and a few of them she had a bad cell connection and couldn’t hear clearly. One of them had such a thick accent that she struggled to understand him, and for what she could fathom – he had the best answers to her questions. All of these people she passed on. The three she invited to interview were all articulate, likeable, confident in their answers and seemed to possess the knowledge she needed.

None of this surprised me at all. Resumes have been around so long that most of the bullet points you find have been used thousands of times. There are websites and books that provide them to review and copy. Very little of what the hiring manager experienced was available to her before actually calling each of them on the phone. In addition, at that point she had already scheduled and blocked out the time on her calendar – so even the weakest phone screen she spoke to for at least fifty minutes or so. I asked the recruiter why he hadn’t called the candidates up first to check them out before wasting the manager’s time, but he was already on to other search activity and he couldn’t do it. Besides, the resumes were all very good and met what the manager was looking for…

So the scheduling began for the three “finalist” candidates. It was especially difficult to nail down as the interview schedule included six people – all who traveled for their jobs regularly. In addition, only one of the three candidates was out of a job and they had their own work schedules to contend with. Eventually all three candidates were scheduled for their interview days spread out over about a four week period. This took the scheduling admin all told about 12 hours of time to organize.

Probably don’t have to tell you what happened…sure thing, they all bombed. One of the three came to the interview with reams of data and past projects to show the manager. During the interviews this candidate proceeded to talk non-stop through the entire day. At the end of each hour long interview no one knew what he could do as they were unable to ask him any questions that they needed to answer.

Another candidate came dressed like he was heading to detention in the Breakfast Club. He literally wore ancient Chuck Taylor Converse High tops full of holes and a sport jacket over one of those T-shirts that have a tie as part of the decal. To make matters worse, he smelled as if he hadn’t been introduced to a bar of soap in quite a while. No one said anything about what he knew or didn’t know – just couldn’t get past the presentation.

The final of the three was very presentable, was articulate and confident of what she knew and was able to demonstrate to the interviewers that she could handle the work. Unfortunately, she was a tad too confident and got into an argument with one of the interviewers about the best way to accomplish a particular task. That interviewer was the one person that she would be supporting and interacting with just about every day on the job. So you know how that went…badly.

The hiring manager decided after spending three months to that point that she needed to bring in some outside help (us – that is how I know the details of this story…), and just under three months later she had a solid top performing person to add to her team.

So to recap this not very unusual story, the process to get one person hired took six months with hours upon hours of unproductive time interviewing, phone screening and scheduling and a fee that typically averages well above $10,000. Surely not all new hires take six months, and Agencies are used typically less than 10% of the time, but the amount of time spent on activity that is fruitless is extremely costly, a regular occurrence and impossible to ignore. The quality of the people being hired also must be questioned when a resume, phone screen and typically an hour long interview is used to determine if the person will fit into the culture, succeed in the job, and stay at the company for several years to come. It almost seems like a really bad dream if it weren’t such a regular happening…

As promised above, there are solutions that can change this reality. One key is to improve the interaction between the company and people interested in them. When both interact positively, both will learn more about the other moving down the path toward a possible engagement. We seem to forget that management and workers are people and the laws of attraction are the same here as in any relationship. Probably the other most important key is unlocking who a person really is, what motivates them, how they present themselves and interact with others (understanding if they can functionally do the work is also a key – but that can be measured with less ambiguity – personal chemistry – not so easy…)

So what is the new solution that can unlock this riddle better than current methods? Solely using a resume and a 45 minute phone call to try to determine whether the stars will align is really asking for trouble as outlined in the story above. If a hiring manager or a recruiter had information about a person’s attitudes, interests and motivations - their chemistry, and was given the opportunity to observe them in a group setting where specific topics were discussed the ambiguity would be much less. They would be able to see who reacts the best, who has the clever idea or who speaks and presents concepts with clarity – wouldn’t that change things?

The recruiter would still send out ads and field resumes, but with the blanks of information all filled in, now when a person is invited to interview they are someone that is known to them – not a sheet of paper or a voice on the phone. The possibility of increasing the quality of hiring will go way up. If those group networking settings actually discussed work issues from the company, the people hired would have an easier time hitting the ground running and their time to productivity would decrease. Most importantly, all that unproductive time phone screening, interviewing and scheduling unappealing candidates that don’t have a chance will be eliminated as no one would be invited in without making a new hire “short list.” They would all be people you NOW know.

Is this hiring nirvana, have the seas parted, is this Iowa (couldn’t resist that Field of Dreams bit…). No but it will

take a journey to realize it – a Clean Journey.

With a Workforce Sustainability Program, sustainable techniques are employed in the employment game and inefficiencies are eliminated. This is a program that uncovers people that have a passion for the high level of work that they do, and who are willing to make the sacrifice to do what it takes to make their company a success. These types of employees are sustainable employees where retention is a foregone conclusion and turnover is virtually non-existent.

Who wouldn’t want a workforce like that?

Clean Journey can help a company build this type of workforce with their interconnected Sustainability Programs. Very concisely an example of a specific company’s path to Workforce Sustainability would play out like this:

A Career Community of people interested in the company is confidentially developed and maintained, members are provided an “Assessment as Experience” survey that makes up the guts of a Professional Brand Portfolio (a person’s career scrap book) of which members are urged to make a 5-10 minute Career Investment each week. The company management reviews the Professional Brands inviting those of interest to participate in Advanced Networking Events where they are cultivated for new hire “short lists” that management keeps until they are ready to make a hire. An Employee Shout Out is offered to the company employees to share the firm’s “inside story” so Community Members have a pretty good idea if it’s the type of place they want spend their career…that’s it.

It’s interesting, provocative, compelling – and fun… Only great new hires emerge at the end of the Journey! Any questions, Bueller, anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone…

Views: 124

Comment by Paul Alfred on October 3, 2010 at 6:53pm
KC I will let you in on a little secret... I come from a Technical Background back around 2000 I thought the Recruiting Market would consolidate and the need for Third Party Recruiters would dwindle - the model would change due to what was happening with the NET. Social Media Networks etc etc .. I even wrote a blog about it .... I was wrong, wrong wrong, Market did consolidate market slowed down Recruiters who were not rocking moved over to the Corp side for security etc etc 2001 worse .... Some players saw some light and added a Consulting arm for certain specialties ...

I came to the conclusion that the work Great Recruiters do is still needed and in a market where hard to find Resources are low in supply more so.... I wish I could get 5 Oil and Gas Companies in a room and tell them to bring the SAP/Peoplesoft/ Microsoft Dynamics specialists so we can share these resources with some Wine and Cheese ... We fight over getting these resources for our clients at 150/hr SAP has 10 30 Modules SAP MM(One module) guy does not want to tell me about his buddy working beside him (My Job to find out) as its a potential $100/hr $150/hr lost 6- 12 months from now because now I can call his buddy in addition to him ... The SAP MM Guys gives me his SAP FICO (which I don't need now) buddy which has nothing to do with SAP MM/PP Project resource need I have ...

That is an example of the Tech Resource world I live in and that is just Oil and GAS SAP Market you have to be plugged in the hard way ... Hard to find resources in the above technology areas don't have tea parties its the reason why we get paid big bucks ( I needed to say that :) ) KC these guys have to be recruited ... I see your solution working for say High End Sales/Marketing Executives who are more prone to come out to say a Golf Tourney ....
Comment by K.C. on October 3, 2010 at 9:26pm
Pam - you are right on! We are not about to replace anyone (its not the goal) - but are going to hopefully add another "bullet in the arsenal so to speak...the size of the comunity will depend on the interest the company has in the marketplace and for those companies that are doing a good job on PR they will have a host of people that come and check them out - are goal is to help capture these folks and give them a "confidential" opportunity to get to know the company better. That's it.


We also have a business that conducts non contingent search and we certainly are not trying to mortagage this part of our business...

Thanks for the kind words and we certainly hope you do fantastically well too!

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