August 27, 2019

The Gatekeepers Part II: Why a Positive Recruiting Philosophy Matters

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Welcome to the second blog in my series, The Gatekeepers: Why a positive Recruiting Philosophy Matters. In this blog, I’ll focus on an essential piece of The Gatekeeper approach: the candidate. If you missed my first blog, take a peek here before reading this one.

Changing jobs is an opportunity to take on more challenging or higher-paying roles. However, oftentimes the choice to leave is to escape the nightmare of their present employer. According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), a list of major stressful life events, changing jobs fall within the top 10 most stressful experiences a person can go through. Yet, people continue to voluntarily leave jobs, inviting stress into their lives.

"3.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in 2018."

-Bureau of Labor Statistics


According to research firm Gartner, people are being promoted less frequently than they were a decade ago. With this in mind, it would seem that “escape” versus promotion is likely the cause for those job changes. It begs the following questions – as your company competes for top talent: What are you doing to make the job changes less stressful for candidates? And who is making the decisions that influence the experience?

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Most of the time, the hiring process is designed around what hiring leaders are willing and not willing to do. Companies are competing for talent, screaming for recruiting teams to do more and be faster, and at the same time, they expect candidates to bend over backwards to meet their expectations of the hiring process. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a hiring leader say something like “Well if they want to work here, the candidate should [input unrealistic expectation like taking off another day of work for a third onsite interview],” I could retire right now!

It’s hard to judge the best strategy for recruiting, especially when you’re not face-to-face with candidates on a daily basis. That’s why companies need to leverage recruiters to see the whole picture in hiring and to best optimize their candidate experience.

Recruiters see and hear first-hand from candidates about what an experience is like and often know when a candidate is about to “bow out” based on their behavior during the interview process. However, companies are leaving these valuable candidate experience insights out of the discussion, devaluing the expertise of their recruiting team.

As a consultant, I spend a great deal of time working closely with executives and senior leaders on understanding their hiring woes. In the early phases of a contract, there is an expectation (or hope) for a “magic bullet” that will solve the challenges executives face in recruiting.

After assessing their hiring process, I often discover that the hiring barriers permeate from a talent acquisition team that hasn’t been given autonomy to advise or advocate for the best recruiting practices.

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Recently, I facilitated a workshop for a client’s entire HR team to work on recruiting as a team effort. As a part of the workshop, we went through an informal empathy mapping exercise, which showed that their candidates were likely feeling more negative emotions, like anxiety and frustration, than positive ones during critical parts of the hiring process.

Team members reflected on their personal experiences interviewing at various companies in the past and wished they could provide a different experience at their present company. Inevitably, someone asked if there was even an option of changing things. The vice president of human resources unequivocally answered: “Yes.”

Once allowed to truly be the experts of recruiting practices and drive change throughout the organization, a common language of empowerment, partnership, and ownership was adopted by the HR team. With the support of their senior leader, the conversation shifted from what wasn’t being done by one person or another to what could be done as a team to improve recruiting. It was an important mindset shift, from blaming to creating solutions.

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By shifting the focus off recruitment output (which can easily lead to a “blaming” mentality), a leader can guide their team into a Gatekeeper mindset by giving them the ability to make a difference.

A more effective hiring process develops when everyone agrees on a common purpose: creating a great (i.e., less stressful) candidate experience. When a team is empowered to make a difference, the possibilities for improvement seem attainable and exciting. Once your recruiting and HR teams are ready to adopt this mission, the next big hurdle will be getting the organization to follow suit. Join me in my next piece as we dive into the space of hiring leaders and how to gain their buy-in.

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