Recruitment! Are You Excluding the Best Candidates?
Recruitment – chances are you don’t really enjoy it whether you are an employee or an employer. If you’re an employee it is time consuming, you build your hopes up, you might have the perfect skills to do the job concerned – but can you put them across in the right way, employers don’t always get back to you and it can be a soul destroying experience. If you’re an employer it’s also time consuming, you might not get the right person, it’s expensive and let’s face it – you would rather be getting on with running your business and doing what you love than sitting in a room listening to people churn out the answers they have been coached to say! So for both sides it can be tedious and frustrating. The recruitment process has been developed over a long time, but what – if anything can we do differently to make it more effective and efficient?
Modern recruitment tends to focus on experience. Sometimes this is useful as it gives an indication of past success. Or does it? Just because someone has done something in the past, it doesn’t mean they made a good job of it. Neither does it indicate whether or not they did it because they wanted to pay the bills, avoid trouble with their employer, or if they are really passionate about the work they were doing. What about transferable experience? Does it count in your process? For example if a candidate has been employed in a workshop making doors, is this relevant to making tables, or are you going to disregard this in your recruitment? Experience is no indicator of ability – if the candidate made a door, how well did they do it? And how are you going to know this from asking them? Sometimes a quick learner will be able to learn very easily a completely new skill, but have you excluded the best person for the job because they haven’t done it before?
As regards the tedious subject of application forms, the rationale behind their use can be readily understood. They can make it easier to pick out the information an employer is looking for and all of the applications are in a standard format. However, they are time consuming to put together, may not transfer over from one role to another very well, and the employer isn’t really seeing the potential in the candidates as they aren’t showing you what they think is important to them, and that might just give someone with potential an edge over the other people. This of course depends on the job you are recruiting for. You might need to hire someone with a certain level of knowledge already, or maybe it would be best to take someone with potential and train them up…… Maybe that application form is actually ruling out the best person for that job you are advertising, because the form is so onerous and they have so many other commitments that they decide not to fill it in. Just think of the people with caring responsibilities who have so much to give but don’t apply because they are too busy working full time and looking after children or other family members in their spare time. You might think these people would not be committed to your organisation and role, but actually these are the people who need the job the most so if they are treated well and their needs are met so they can do both, then they are likely to be committed and achieve within your organisation. Covering letters are another waste of time in my view, especially if the application or CV is being sent by email – the candidate has to say something to introduce themselves in the email, yet some employers insist on a cover letter too. Why? It is just a collection of words that a candidate feels obliged to write in order to jump through another hoop. I believe in efficiency, and if it isn’t necessary – don’t ask for it. I believe in politeness and being respectful towards people and so I can see the argument for asking for a cover letter in some situations – for example it makes sense if you are asking for a CV and then you ask for a covering letter to give the candidates the opportunity to say a little bit more about how they meet the criteria for the job. So that’s my perspective for an employer. For an employee I would advise that you follow to the letter what the employer has asked for, even if it seems a little over the top. If you aren’t going to spend the time following the instructions, it’s not worth applying in the first place.
Lies! Yes, shock horror! People tell lies to get jobs. The question that will encourage most lies is probably “Why do you want the job?” Well the real reason will probably be something along the lines of to pay the bills, its why most of us go to work. So this question is going to get people saying how fantastic the company is, how it is their ambition or whatever else they can schmooze out of their mouth on the spur of the moment. Why do employers ask this question? Does the answer to this really tell you about the commitment of the candidate or does it just show you how tired the candidate is of having to make stuff up to try to jump through the hoops of the recruitment process? If there are more candidates than jobs it is likely that the candidates you’re looking to recruit have had many interviews before this one- don’t forget, it might seem like you’re in charge but it’s actually quite difficult to find someone who will do the job well and fit in with your culture. Do you really want to put people off by asking irrelevant questions or questions that encourage lies?
I mentioned the imbalance of power already and it is certainly a perspective I’ve come across many times. Working with job seekers, they often think that the employer has all the power. But do they really? It’s actually the case that both sides have an unmet need and both sides have the potential to meet the need of the other. The best candidates will also judge the quality of the employer and how they might be valued or not in that company. Who wants to work for a company where they are treated like a number? Or worse?
There is much current discussion about a skills gap. I believe there is a talent gap and that there is a stagnant pool of employees who are continually recruited into similar roles to ones they have done before when actually they have the potential to achieve so much more – but they’re not given the opportunity. A candidate might not have experience of something in particular for a variety of reasons, mostly relating to opportunity. The employer should consider the possibility that the candidate may have untapped potential yet to be discovered.
There are so many different ways to find the right people for your company – so you need a strategy over the longer period. Be creative and less prescriptive – you’re going to get the best people by using considered judgement as well as processes. What about putting the person into a real situation rather than asking them to talk you through a situation? What about asking what would they do instead of what have they done? Recruitment should be an ongoing strategy – not a one off panic every time someone puts in their notice.
If you need help with recruitment, contact Kelly on 07881294894 or email firstname.lastname@example.org