(Originally published February 2016, updated March 2020.)
Would you rather have a root canal than recruit for an open position? One wrong hire can cost your company’s bottom-line and impact company culture. But finding the perfect match may oftentimes feel impossible.
“Three-quarters (75%) of Americans have had a job where they didn’t feel they were a good fit.” – Monster’s 2019 State of the Candidate Survey
There’s a disconnect somewhere along the hiring pipeline that’s resulting in matching the wrong candidate with the wrong job. Hiring is hard enough with so much at stake, but clearly there’s room for improvement that could ultimately make recruiters’ jobs easier.
Because recruiting is one of the most high-impact items on a manager’s task list, hiring managers find it more painful than a trip to the dentist.
8 Frequently Reported Hiring Problems
Why is recruiting so painful? Here are some recruiting challenges we’ve heard.
1. Hiring managers aren’t trained to interview.
Good interviewers are part journalist and part therapist. They know how to build relationships and get meaningful information in an hour’s time. Without training, hiring managers talk too much and ask weak questions. Uncertainty about who the strongest candidate is leads to procrastination, or make decisions based on gut instinct or level of industry experience, which often produces mis-hires.
2. Contingency recruiting is broken
Contingency hiring is when companies pay a fee only when an agency sources and successfully places a candidate. The model no longer works.
People now change jobs every year or two, so the fees go through the roof. The competition among contingency recruiters is cutthroat, and hiring managers often pit them against each other. The executives and hiring managers we know are generally unhappy with the quality of hires they get from the contingency model.
3. The candidate experience is generally awful
The applicant tracking system is a punch line. Hiring managers know the candidate experience stinks, but it’s not as simple as just deciding to treat candidates more respectfully.
Most organizations have not allocated the resources necessary to improve the candidate experience. Corporate recruiters are overwhelmed with the volume and unprepared to improve the level of service. Hiring managers have to fit recruiting into their normal work, often while taking on the additional work generated by an open position. The norm is for the candidate experience to be poor.
4. A constant search for purple squirrels
Hiring managers often become extreme in their requirements, creating nearly insurmountable barriers to timely recruiting as they search for the elusive candidate who has precisely the skills they want – along with 3-5 years of experience. This leads to frustration and never offering the job to the “ideal candidate”, further adding to the pile of recruiting challenges.
7. The “hit the ground running” syndrome
Hiring managers sometimes refuse to hire anyone they have to train, and are still searching months after a green recruit would have been trained and up to speed. While the hiring problem here may seem that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist, your issue may simply be that you’re setting unnecessarily hyper-specific expectations.
8. A genuine skills shortage
There just aren’t enough software developers, project managers, or nurses to fill all the openings. It’s like a game of musical chairs in reverse.
How to Solve Your Hiring Woes
You don’t always need an external consultant to come in and restructure your hiring processes. There are several recruiting tips that leaders and HR departments can follow to solve hiring problems.
- Train hiring managers in effective interviewing techniques. Make it an essential competency for management.
- Explore different models of recruiting, including third-party recruiters paid by the hour rather than on contingency.
- Re-design the hiring process from the candidate point of view. Pay attention to your employer brand, and start thinking of candidates as customers. Allocate the resources to do this. How about a Candidate Success Team? Re-design all your job postings to attract candidates.
- Develop strong job descriptions based on specifically what the successful candidate will have accomplished in 6 months or a year, and hire for those skills instead of a laundry list of “must-have” qualifications.
- Educate hiring managers on the value of employees with “skinny resumes” and those who are “overqualified”.
- Build your employer brand and company culture so that you stand out among the competition. Having a strong employer brand used to be a “nice to have”. Now it’s a business necessity. There is a strong opportunity for employers to stand out, since many organizations are playing catch-up in this area.
Need Help Hiring Great Talent?
Managers succeed because they hire great people. Businesses fail because they fail with people. Companies have been pushed into bankruptcy because they didn’t have adequate staff to operate. More people are now leaving the workforce than coming in, so the pain of recruiting must be addressed. Otherwise, that pain might be the symptom of an illness that could kill a company.