During nearly any hiring process, you will suffer moments of doubt. You’ll worry that all your time spent interviewing might result in nothing. You’ll wonder if you should give up on finding a top performer and just settle for a warm body to sit at that long-empty desk. You’ll be tempted to relax your high standards, just to get the infernal hiring process out of the way so you can get back to your other work.
But you should never give up trying to hire top performers. If your initial approach is not working, you may just need to adjust your recruiting strategy instead.
Consider how flexible you’ve been when selecting which candidates to meet. Did you put a lot of emphasis on their resumes and cover letters? That’s a common mistake.
You are rarely going to find an ideal candidate from just a resume. The most polished resumes tend not to be the best candidates. (If a resume is incredibly polished, that person may be more of an expert job-seeker than an expert worker.) But more importantly, resumes don’t give you the full picture of someone’s abilities. It is impossible to accurately assess aspects of cultural fit such as work ethic from the words on a resume or cover letter.
Consider the good but imperfect resumes that you normally would toss in the reject pile. Spend a few days talking to a wide range of candidates. Talking to 24 people is a good rule of thumb. You don’t need to bring them all into the office — a phone call is fine. But make it substantive. Really talk about the work the candidate has been performing. If you dive into the details of their work, you will soon have a more complete picture of your candidates than their resumes could ever give you. And you’ll have a strong grasp on the talent available to you in the current market.
But if you have been flexible with your interviews and you still have not found anyone who is a good match, it’s probably time to rethink your expectations for the position. Never settle for someone who cannot do the job, it will only make your situation far worse.
Be more flexible in what you are looking for
You will be far better served in the long run when you can consistently reconcile your desires with the reality of who you are able to recruit. Understand the kinds of people available to you in your job market and redesign jobs to fit the people you can actually hire. Instead of lowering your standards, consider redesigning the job to better fit the profile of people you can actually hire, and then hire someone who can be a superstar in the redefined job.
You can’t build a strong organization if you depend on recruiting highly unusual superstars. Even when you do occasionally recruit a superstar, you’ll be afraid to manage them, you’ll be afraid they might quit, and you’ll be afraid to promote them. Not exactly the best recipe for long-term success.
When you redefine a job:
- Make sure that at least three other people in your job market actually have the required skills. This might involve a bit of market research on your part.
- Be prepared to pay the salary that those three other people expect.
- Be prepared to offer the title that those three people would want.
Typical recruiting and hiring decisions are driven by gut instinct and personality judgements. The result? Record employee dissatisfaction and disengagement, resulting in greater disruption, higher costs and immense opportunity costs for employers. You can combat the flaws of the typical recruiting and hiring process and learn to hire predictably and successfully. The first step: assess the strengths and weaknesses within your existing hiring process.