Your Approach to Hiring Is All Wrong


The recent Harvard Business Review article  entitled : Your Approach to Hiring Is All Wrong is very critical of TA and should make us all pauseEvery so often similar articles are written, criticizing hiring processes and how they may be improved upon. The question is: should we pay attention and listen to our critics, or simply dismiss these sporadic analyses of the industry as inconsequential ramblings? 

I happened to discuss the findings of the article with a TA leader friend of mine recently and he was not particularly interested or concerned with what author Peter Capelli is suggesting. But I posit that may be a mistake. Perhaps we should all collectively listen and learn because I think Mr. Capelli has some salient points about inherent flaws in the TA process and we often learn more from our detractors than our supporters. 

Are you ready to listen? I invite you to read on. 

HBR is an extremely reputable source, and likely what your manager and C levels are referencing on a consistent basis. Therefore, it’s important to mine it for useful, actionable information. If your mind remains closed, or you’re feeling too busy to read it, I say you risk continuing the non-stop ride on the hamster wheel of subpar TA processes as you may miss what really matters for your real customers:  hiring managers. 

Without growth and optimization, these broken processes squeeze us all to hire faster and faster, to keep the pipeline full and costs from inflating. Facing increased employee turnover? Hire faster! Personnel are leaving jobs (for reasons we may not know) more rapidly than they can be filled. Obviously, this cyclical catch-22 benefits no one. What’s at the root of the turnover and can we stop it before it even begins?

This HBR article focuses on several points; one being that our profession is based on “fad” and not facts. For example, Mr. Capelli speaks to the idea that focusing on recruiting  passive job seekers only accounts for roughly 11% of positions filled, is expensive and that no research to his knowledge ever proved that they were better (or more desirable) candidates than active job seekers.  

But as I touched upon earlier, perhaps the most notable takeaway from the article (and one I agree with wholeheartedly) is this: We don’t consistently measure in any discernible way whether we deliver good hires overall. I’ll offer an  analogy: 

Let’s take the basic TA success metrics and apply them to enjoying a meal at a nice restaurant. Imagine you are dining out and you decide to measure your experience by using the speed of the service (the TA equivalent would be time-to-fill), and what it costs you to eat there (cost-per-hire). Would these two metrics adequately sum up your experience overall? Of course not! You’re missing the most important measurement of all: quality. What if your food tasted terrible? Without taking into account quality, that critical component of your evening meal would be ignored and lead to a very misleading conclusion. “Well, the food came fast and it was cheap, therefore the restaurant was fantastic!” Following that ideology, fast food chains would win kudos and run high-end Michelin-rated restaurants out of business. 

Similarly, hiring practices should not stop with the offer letter. There is a lack of follow up in the TA/hiring profession that can significantly hurt a company’s bottom line. $20 billion a year is spent to bring in candidates and procure new hires, and it is astonishing that more high quality follow up isn’t being done, or at least not to the extent it should. And whatever meager results companies do track (if any) are not analyzed and developed into compelling and meaningful insights.

Where do we go from here?

The author’s point is this: We as an industry need to be able to assess if the candidates selected become ideal employees. And if they don’t, why not? From which pipelines are these candidates coming?  How can we source better, more capable candidates-there has to be a reliable and repeatable way to predict and measure which employees are the best ones. The sooner those procedures are perfected, the better quality of hires companies will experience, leading to unprecedented success. It is an idea well worth the investment.  And if things don’t change, companies will continue to be bereft of their most valuable assets: dedicated, motivated and innovative employees.

Now that you have listened to the critics and their arguments, what can you do? What are the logical next steps in the hiring process?  You can start by effectively measuring quality of hire and using that crucial data to make smarter hiring decisions. How you ask? Aptitude Research Partners released a survey report on this very subject. Read more about effectively tracking quality of hires here