THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

July 10, 2008   view past issues

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Feature: The Recruiter’s Guide to Dumb Hiring Managers

No gathering of recruiters is ever complete without tales from the crypt-like cubicles of hiring mangers. These men and women are our colleagues, to be sure, but sometimes … well, sometimes they think and act as if they come from another planet. Not Mars or Venus mind you, but someplace so remote that there is no way we mere mortals can recognize or understand what motivates them. I mean, how do you relate to a person whose current and future success depends upon the caliber of the talent with which they work and yet they can’t seem to find the time to develop accurate job descriptions, review resumes, prepare for interviews or even communicate with someone who has accepted an offer to join their team? That’s not just stupid behavior; it’s dumb behavior on an intergalactic scale.

While we can joke about this penchant for the perverse subversion of our recruiting efforts, we also recognize that such nonsensical behavior can be a drag on our own performance and thus a danger to our security and wellbeing. As most of us know all too well, when things go wrong with the people we’ve recruited (or tried to), hiring managers don’t blame themselves and their inattention or carelessness. No, they huff and puff themselves up and then, with a cheekiness that would make Paris Hilton proud, they point at us as the ones who blew their house down.

So, what are we to do?

I offer forthwith my Recruiter’s Guide to Dumb Hiring Managers.

They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

We work with the realities of mismatches in talent demand and supply every day. Hiring managers seldom do.

  • They don’t know what it takes to write a reasonable and responsible description of the requirements and responsibilities of their openings. They don’t know when they’re asking for too much in a candidate or offering too little in compensation for the talent they need.
  • They don’t know what it takes to get that description translated into a recruitment ad that will engage the best talent. They don’t know how to communicate the organization’s value proposition as an employer or how to articulate the opportunity their opening represents.
  • And, they don’t know where to promote that message so that the best talent will actually see it. They don’t know where their target demographic hangs out online or off and in what specific venues or formats (e.g., email, networking, print) they are most likely to be reached.
  • They Don’t Know What They Think They Know

    We meet and interact with candidates every day. Hiring managers seldom do.

  • They think they know how to interview, but just about everyone else knows they don’t. In fact, there’s a University of Michigan study which proves that hiring managers are only 4% better than flipping a coin-they get it right 54% of the time-when it comes to selecting the best interviewee for a job.
  • They think they know what it takes to attract and sell top talent, but more often than not, they are way, way out of touch. Motivating factors shift from generation to generation, and most hiring managers know their peers well, but are dumb as dirt about the younger professionals who work for them.
  • They think they know what their unit must do to succeed so they focus on doing-on activity-rather than on recruiting and retaining the resources they must have (and effectively lead) in order to accomplish that activity. Most of them don’t realize that talent must be sold and resold over and over again.
  • They Don’t Know What We Know

    We are recruiting professionals (or at least work in the field of recruiting regularly). They aren’t and don’t.

  • They are clueless about what it takes to woo a high performer from their current employer-the devil they know-to a new employer-the devil they don’t know. As a result, they consistently underestimate the time and resources required to accomplish that feat.
  • They are ignorant of the subtleties of candidate assessment and, all too often, have the interpersonal skills of a brick. As a result, they consistently overemphasize the data on a resume and make little effort (or don’t know how) to probe individual characteristics and values.
  • They don’t understand what we do, how we do it or why. More often than not, they see recruiting as an overhead function that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line (as they measure it). As a result, they fail to appreciate the importance of our work or the very real contribution it makes to their success.
  • How can recruiters deal with dumb hiring managers? The easy answer would be to adopt the strategy Shakespeare proposed for attorneys: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” But that, of course, is neither appropriate nor conducive to good corporate relations. So, the obvious answer, though not an easy one, is to educate the poor dummies as best we can. Indeed, as onerous as it may seem, we must make their education a part of our job. Why bother? Because the reality is that our success depends upon it. We can’t do our jobs well if our customers are as dumb on an interstellar scale.

    Recognizing that truth doesn’t make the task of teaching any easier, of course. It’s a rationale, but not a game plan for success. So, it’s equally as important to know how to begin. To know where we start in our efforts to transform dummies into smarties.

    What is that first step? I think we must begin by giving them a rationale for learning that is equally as compelling as our rationale for teaching. What would that be? What one reason would justify their investing the time and effort to acquire the knowledge they need to be good recruiting partners with us? The answer was best expressed by someone they know and admire, W. Edward Deming, the Father of Quality Improvement. They’ll have to think about it for a minute, but here’s what he said: “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.”

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. READER’S ALERT: Don’t miss the write-up below on WEDDLE’s latest book-Finding Needles in a Haystack. Shally Steckerl called it “A rare and uniquely useful reference guide for recruiters!”.

    P.S.S. Don’t forget to send us your new e-mail address if you move.


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Recognizing Richard Rabbit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is this year’s first choice for summer reading.

    Thursday, July 17th is Recognizing Richard Rabbit Day at Amazon.com. Buy the book on that day-Thursday, July 17th-and you’ll get the special Amazon.com discount and Peter Weddle will personally sign your book for you. (See below for details on how to get your book signed.)

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends that make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story is not about self-improvement, but about self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Make this the summer when you figure out how to meet the person of your dreams-the one who lives inside you. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768. Or, visit Amazon.com. So, don’t delay. Make sure you have Recognizing Richard Rabbit packed in your suitcase for your summer vacation.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit Day at Amazon.com: If you buy your book on Amazon.com on Thursday, July 17th, send the book and your receipt to WEDDLE’s, 2052 Shippan Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902. We’ll have Peter Weddle personally sign the book and return it (and your receipt) to you right away. This is the perfect gift for the Holidays, so send several copies and Peter will sign each and every one.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Bernard Hodes Group published a study in 2007 entitled Playing for Keeps/Recruiting for Retention. It found that the top two reasons people leave an organization are a limited career path (cited by 51% of the respondents) and inadequate pay and benefits (cited by 50% of the respondents). In today’s environment, these data are most applicable to the best talent-the workers an organization can least afford to lose-because it’s they who have the greatest number of employment options, even in a down economy. Improving compensation and benefits is probably not a viable response in the near term, so organizations should focus on the other factor to ensure the retention of their best performers. Build credible career paths that will engage and challenge these employees and make sure they know about those opportunities and have a reasonable shot at achieving them. Supplement these pathways with a curriculum of career self-management courses that will ensure each individual not only knows what to do but how to do it successfully. Together, those two factors-aspirations and accelerating knowledge-create a sense of future possibilities that can hold the allegiance of your best talent even in the face of aggressive outside recruitment.

    Financial Planning magazine published an article by Texas Tech associate professor Deena Katz that offered some advice to service companies about making promises to customers. She suggested, “Before proposing to offer a new service, don’t think twice-think three times.” Why? Because there’s nothing worse in the service delivery business than making a commitment to someone and failing to follow through. What’s that got to do with recruiting? We’re in the service delivery business too, and every time we speak (or advertise) to a candidate about our organization’s employment brand, we are in essence making a promise. We’re implicitly or even explicitly making a commitment to deliver a certain organizational culture and set of values and a certain work environment and chance to excel. Most candidates and especially the very best ones accept our offers based on those very representations. They aren’t looking for a job; they’re seeking a better career advancement opportunity. When our promise turns out to be false, therefore, when we say one thing and deliver another, the new hire inevitably feels as if they’ve been duped and mistreated. And those who feel duped and mistreated are also inevitably the first to leave and the first to tell others about the organization (and the recruiters) that break their promises.

    A Hay Group survey found that 30% of employers were planning to freeze base salaries in response to economic conditions or had already done so. A February survey by Mercer found that one out of six employers (16%) had actually reduced their compensation budgets. Such moves are clearly prudent, but only if they are executed correctly. In most cases, employees are willing to sacrifice for their employer during difficult economic times, but they expect that sacrifice to be fairly and appropriately shared. In other words, freezing base salaries for someone making $30,000 per year is much more of a sacrifice than freezing a base salary for someone making six or seven figures. To ensure the best possible perception of budgetary decisions positioned as “a sacrifice for the common good,” the application of those decisions must be prorated to ensure they produce “a common bad”-an equal allocation of financial pain. For example, base salaries might be frozen for all executives and managers and for staff making over $150,000, while annual increases in salary would be limited to 1% for those making $75,000 to $149,999 and to 2% for everyone else. While the dollar impact of such a proration is clearly greater at more senior levels, its financial impact is literally and, no less important, perceptually much more evenly apportioned than a freeze that’s simplistically applied across the board.

    WEDDLE’s announced the release of an astonishing new tool for recruiters. Called Finding Needles in a Haystack, it’s the first comprehensive listing of keywords for successfully searching resume databases online and off. The book provides thousands of search terms and phrases for the engineering, finance, healthcare, human resources, sales & marketing, technology and other fields. If you’re not getting the yield you need from job board resume databases, data mining or even your own resume management system, this is the reference book for you. In fact, sourcing guru Shally Steckerl described this book as “A rare and uniquely useful reference guide for recruiters!” It doesn’t get any better than that! To order your copy, please call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768. Get Finding Needles in a Haystack today!

    WEDDLE’s also offers a number of other publications for recruiters seeking to win the War for the Best Talent and maximize their ROI … their return on the Internet. They include:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the occupational fields, industries and geographies on which they focus; and
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Association Web Sites. The key to the “hidden talent market” online, it details the recruiting resources and capabilities that are provided at the Web-sites of over 1,900 associations and societies.
  • Postcards from Space: Being the Best in Online Recruitment & HR Management. A compilation of Peter Weddle’s columns for The Wall Street Journal, it provides a complete introduction to the Best Practices for sourcing, recruiting and retaining talent online.
  • Generalship: HR Leadership in a Time of War. The only primer on leadership that focuses on the unique challenges of the HR professional waging both a War for Relevancy in the modern corporation and a War for Talent in the 21st Century labor market.
  • So make sure you’re at the top of your game, get your WEDDLE’s books today. Click on the link to your left or call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories

    There are 40,000 job boards now in operation in North America and an equal number operating elsewhere around the world. The key to recruiting top talent online, therefore, is knowing where to find and how to select the best sites for each of your requirements. WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide identifies 350 of the top sites worldwide and provides the information you need to determine which job boards will deliver the optimum yield for you. For example:

    The ASTD Job Bank

    American Society for Training & Development

    http://jobs.astd.org

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All

    Distribution of jobs: International-USA, Canada

    Fee to post a job: $500/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 11,000+

    Source of resumes: Direct from individuals

    Top occupations among visitors: HR, Training, Organizational Development, Management, Sales & Marketing

    Other services for employers: Assessment instruments, Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports: Banners, Postings

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes


    Support Our Sponsor: Recognizing Richard Rabbit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Recognizing Richard Rabbit, Peter Weddle’s big bestseller in a little book that is this year’s first choice for summer reading.

    Thursday, July 17th is Recognizing Richard Rabbit Day at Amazon.com. Buy the book on that day-Thursday, July 17th-and you’ll get the special Amazon.com discount and Peter Weddle will personally sign your book for you. (See below for details on how to get your book signed.)

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a fable for adults, young and not so young. In the genre of Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s a tale about some forest friends that make an amazing discovery by trying to help one of their own. They don’t uncover the key to organizational change, however, or to setting strategic goals for the enterprise. No, Recognizing Richard Rabbit is a much more personal book and its gift is unique to each and every reader.

    This story is not about self-improvement, but about self exploration. It is all about finding the secret to authentic living. To being your own true self. How does Recognizing Richard Rabbit do that? Unlike traditional fables, this tale unfolds in two synchronized parts: one in fiction-the fable, the other in nonfiction-a parallel self-interview. In essence, you are invited to tap both the creative and the analytic sides of your brain-to probe the whole of your inherent talent-so you can find the pathway to the person you were meant to be.

    Make this the summer when you figure out how to meet the person of your dreams-the one who lives inside you. Get your copy of Recognizing Richard Rabbit today. All you have to do is call WEDDLE’s at 317.598.9768. Or, visit Amazon.com. So, don’t delay. Make sure you have Recognizing Richard Rabbit packed in your suitcase for your summer vacation.

    Recognizing Richard Rabbit Day at Amazon.com: If you buy your book on Amazon.com on Thursday, July 17th, send the book and your receipt to WEDDLE’s, 2052 Shippan Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902. We’ll have Peter Weddle personally sign the book and return it (and your receipt) to you right away. This is the perfect gift for the Holidays, so send several copies and Peter will sign each and every one.