Last week I received an email from a client challenging me and telling me that “the vast majority of recruiters are looking for carbon copies” – the recruitment process is being based on keywords alone.
“Recruitment by keyword search is like going fishing on a lake and scooping up all the fish floating on the surface. Seems a good idea at the time because it is so quick and easy, unfortunately the fish you actually want are those that are alive and productive, swimming around underwater, unnoticed.”Dominic Mikulin
And Dominic’s not wrong.
Recruiters and hiring managers are missing out on pools of talent because they’re relying on inadequate job descriptions and failing to delve deeper into the needs of their organisation and the potential that candidates have.
“People are complicated. Interactions between people are amongst the most important, treasured and valuable possessions we have. The place we work potentially takes most of our waking hours for most of our lives. Get the people right and all the rest will tend to come into place. Treat the people as “interchangeable units of work” and it is unlikely your company will survive. Recruit people as a string of keywords and perhaps you undermine your company’s very future.”Read Dominic’s full article here on LinkedIn
How do we move past keywords, cloning and inadequate job descriptions?
If companies continue to use job descriptions that list skills and experience along with generic soft skills like ‘problem solver’ or ‘team player’, then the cycle continues. Recruiters will merely become data miners with tunnel vision! This type of hiring compromises more than just diversity. It eliminates the most promising people from consideration before they even get a chance to be considered.
Talented candidates are being overlooked.
Recruiters are overlooking the healthiest fish in the lake. These are the people who achieve more, have a different mix of skills and experiences, get promoted more frequently, are assigned the toughest projects (and often volunteer for them) and they’re ultimately part of important multi-functional teams. These talents and behaviours wouldn’t be found in a checklist or a technical skills list. Yet they are the differentiator, the spark you need to ignite your business.
The sad thing is that traditional, out-dated job descriptions prevent these people from consideration. The best candidates are often being overlooked.
Recruiters need to start with the end goal in mind.
Ask yourself and your team what the person being recruited needs to do over the course of the first year in order to achieve ‘success’. Most jobs can be defined with a few key performance objectives describing the task, the action required and a relevant deliverable. For example, “Pull together a taskforce of suppliers, technical & operations people to implement a Network Monitoring System by the second quarter.”
Think about how this KPI can be achieved by the person – what will they need to have or be able to do to deliver? This will give you a mix of competencies that you can probe and ask for examples of when conducting an interview. In this example, the right candidate will have both people and leadership skills, as well as knowledge of process and IT systems.
This will lead to a more open-minded approach to hiring.
By using this approach, you will have a broader definition of the role rather than narrowing it down and missing the people who are best placed to do the job well. Even if that is in a different way to how you or someone else in the business might do it. That’s what diversity and potential bring.
A broader approach doesn’t mean weaker candidates.
Being more open-minded with your recruiting doesn’t equate to opening the floodgates to lots of unsuitable applications. This is where you need to get creative – ask your candidates to do something more tailored in order to demonstrate their transferable skills.
Such as asking the candidate (in no more than 350 words) to give an example of when they did something comparable to what you need. Ask them to explain why they think this experience will benefit your company.
“Don’t make people work too hard at the initial application stage or you’ll drive talent away!”
This is a phrase I hear a lot of recruiters and ‘experts’ say. Well I say, don’t listen to those people!
Using a data miner with tunnel vision wouldn’t get you very far, so what do you have to lose? In my experience, if people have a few hurdles to jump through then you end up with those more committed to the role. Candidates appreciate a more thorough approach, and a hiring manager who is taking the recruitment process seriously. Be clear about the context and what you are looking for, and explain why your organisation values a more diverse approach to hiring. Adding a hurdle to your recruitment process won’t turn off the top candidates, but it will stop the ‘spray and pray’ candidates from wasting your time!
Once you’ve got applications that are solid and have potential, it’s time to move to a phone screening stage. My experience shows that this is where a lot of time in face-to-face interviews can be saved! Using the LAB Profile, I help clients to listen to candidate’s language patterns and figure out how they think, make decisions and behave at work.
Not only does this approach filter candidates out, but it also gives the candidates confidence in the employer and the role that they are being hired for. It demonstrates real interest, and shows a more open-minded approach to people, whilst also allowing them to decide at an early stage whether the job is right for them – rather than declining a job offer, or quitting a few months in.
(Read about my experience helping Ginibee to hire if you want to delve into this process more).
By using this approach you’ll find that by the time you then get to face-to-face interviews, you’re left with only the cream of the crop.
Candidates whose full potential is being used to succeed in the role you’re hiring for, and who will be motivated and excited about the job they’re joining your organisation to do.
Have you experience of the keyword recruitment process and been left feeling undervalued and overlooked as a candidate? Or are you a recruiting manager who’s breaking the mould? I’d love to hear from you – and for you to challenge my views on the current state of recruiting!