No bullets, no Black Hole and no officious BS, if we care about snagging talent If I hire someone to work for me, it's because I have a problem. If we were more honest than we are in corporate, institutional and start-up America, we'd tell the truth about that.
The only rational reason to hire a new person is that we have an expensive problem only a human being can solve.
If we fill a job opening merely because the budget allows it, because the latest organizational shift gives us a project that has headcount attached to it or because one of our employees retired, we are doing our customers and our shareholders a disservice.
A business like any system is constantly evolving. Needs ebb and flow, but we've trained managers to crave bigger teams to supervise, so who could say how much of our work is critical and how much is made-up fluff? Who knows how much bureaucratic waste burdens investors, taxpayers and customers with unnecessary cost just because hiring managers view more headcount as the surest path to more personal and pay-grade-lifting power?
Anyway, let's assume that I'm ready to hire hire someone and that I have a real problem. Not only do I have the problem, but I know what it's costing me, too. If I didn't, how could I size the project to determine how much I can pay the new arrival? We should do these calculations every time we add a person to our teams, but we don't, because pea-brained Godzilla runs the show and tells us that when we hire someone, there's a chart in HR that'll tell us how much to pay.
If I have a business problem and I know what it's costing me, then I'm well acquainted with the obstacle in my way. That's good, because when I write a job ad I'm going to focus on describing that problem. Smart people get excited about solving thorny issues. They want to know what they're going to be hired to do -- no different than the guys in "Mission Impossible" or "Ocean's Eleven." Who gets excited about sitting at a desk and filling out forms? People get excited about exciting missions, so my job ad is going to lay the situation out.
When we write jobs full of requirements and Essential Qualifications, we're announcing to the talent community "I, hiring manager Liz, don't have the guts to tell you what's really going on in my company." That's beneath you. Only fearful weenies write job ads that try to make it seem as though a company is perfect and has no problems. Any ten-year-old could see through that ruse. Given that CFOs these days are throwing around salary nickels like manhole covers, it doesn't take a genius to see that the issue for employers is not "How can we possibly choose between all these perfectly-suited, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed candidates?" but rather "When will heaven take pity on me and deliver to me someone who can ease my pain?"
The typical job ad is a keyword-encrusted spit in the wind. When I was an HR person, I'd say to managers "We're losing at least half of these bullets, so you can choose which ones to nuke or I can." I told them "We have to get rid of half these bullets, or be without this person for an extra three months." If time really is money, that's too expensive a proposition.
Join Human Workplace CEO Liz Ryan on a webinar Thursday, September 26: Put a Human Voice in Your Job Search, Career and BusinessA Human Workplace job ad doesn't include any qualifications or requirements. How the heck could we ever know what sort of background the perfect candidate would bring? That's impossible to know in advance.
Why would I care if a brilliant engineer has an electrical engineering degree or a degree in physics or phys ed for that matter - or no degree at all? If we could find the courage to admit it, virtually none of the jobs that we associate with particular degrees actually require that specialized educational background. I could teach a bright Rhesus monkey to perform any entry-level corporate job I've ever seen, so imagine what a capable human recruit could pick up right on the job.
When I hire someone, there are no formal requirements, but rather a synopsis of my movie:
I'm Chuck Jones, CEO of Acme Dynamite. Our company makes stick dynamite for coyotes - you may have seen our product placement in Roadrunner cartoons. We've just gotten approval to ship unassembled stick dynamite through the mail and UPS and that shift has galvanized our ecommerce business, which has made up about ten percent of our $15M annual sales and should grow dramatically. We need someone to work with our site developers and marketing team on the logistical side of our growing online store, from coordinating new product launches in the store to negotiating shipping deals and helping our tech support reps handle online issues. The new position will be called Manager of Ecommerce Operations and will report to me.
This is a job for someone who likes juggling six or eight major priorities at once, and someone who can create reports in the morning and lead a customer-support training session in the afternoon. The job is located in downtown Phoenix with about ten percent travel and pays in the mid-seventies. If it sounds like a fit, send me a 350-word paragraph that tells me why.
Chuck's message is simple and human. He doesn't list arbitrary job requirements (why limit his degrees of freedom, or shove his brilliant next hire away)? At the same time, Chuck's job ad has a better screening gate built into it than any typical "please send a resume" Black Hole ad. Chuck's admin working with Chuck and his managers will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in those 350-word paragraphs in about three seconds per reply. Fewer than ten percent of the responses will warrant a second look, and the most thoughtful and eyes-open respondents will rise to the top of the list nearly instantly.
Keywords have zip-all to do with hiring in the Human Workplace.
When Chuck is ready to conduct interviews, he'll write to each candidate and say "Let's talk next week. Is Thursday at 4:00 p.m. good for you? Please come to our office and chat with me first and then our Director of Recruiting, Declan McManus. Please come equipped with questions for us. Your questions are more important to us than your answers!"
When each candidate arrives, Chuck will make a few moments of small talk with them and then say "I'm dying to hear your questions!" We are much smarter to ask job candidates to ask us questions than to launch into a traditional interview script, because the questions that candidates compose on their own tells us a tremendous amount about their altitude on the job, their thought process and their priorities -- much more than their manicured answers convey.
We interviewed a group HR VP candidates a few weeks ago for one of our strategy clients who wanted our help with his hiring process. We began each interview in the usual way, having alerted the candidates of our process in advance: "Bring us questions to answer for you!" The first candidate asked "Can you please run down the software systems this organization uses for HR management and payroll?" We could, and we did, and we knew in a flash that the person sitting in front of us was not the person we were looking for.
Leaders operate from the hilltop if not from the clouds. No Human Resources VP whose first question is "Which software systems do you use?" has the strategic or cultural awareness our client was after.
The second candidate's first question for us was "Once this new VP arrives, what needs to happen next? What got the CEO to make this hire?" The second candidate could see that no CEO ever went in search of an HR chief just to move HR paperwork around or keep the company out of court.
There had to be a bigger fish to fry on the competitive landscape, and of course there was. The CEO had seen that his vision wasn't going to be realized without thoughtful interventions in his hiring, leadership, pay and training processes and above all in the mojo level on his team. That's what the new HR VP was being hired to install -- people-focused and nimble HR processes infused with mojo.
We told our second candidate about the movie. What else would we do - lie and say No no no, there;'s no elephant on the table -- this CEO just hires new VPs because he's a nice guy?
Recruiting with a Human Voice means no bulleted requirements in a job ad. It means describing a movie and using a logical gate like our 350-word paragraph to keep the Black Hole recruiting engine out of the talent picture.
It means no questions on the job interview, just a willingness to answer (and, let us not forget, to evaluate) a candidate's questions and then spill into the normal sort of human conversation we have all the time over coffee with friends.
It means respecting every candidate and communicating with every person in the mix regardless of whom we eventually decide to hire. It means staying human and keeping red-tape bureaucracy out of what's actually a very soft and sticky human issue: the process of matching individuals and teams so that everyone's flame and mojo grows.
That's how I hire and how Human Workplace employers do, too. It is easy to do, cheaper and faster than Black Hole recruiting and of course much more appealing to the very switched-on, mojofied people who can delight your customers and frustrate your competitors.
If you want to learn the Recruiting with a Human Voice approach, you can get the step-by-step instructions in our HR with a Human Voice coaching group launching this weekend. If you want to take a pulse on your current recruiting system, my suggestion is to talk to the ten people who most recently received "No Thanks" letters from your company.
(Don't talk to your ten most recent hires - God bless them, they'll lie and tell you the recruiting system was flawless. Now you see how fear lubricates Godzilla's gears. Scary for a CEO to see that mechanism up close, isn't it?)
We can recruit human beings without talent-repelling job ads, keyword-searching algorithms, officious auto-responders and weeks of radio silence. Those things are a pox on creativity and teamwork, and they drive your best new hires away.
If you don't believe me, ask your recruiting team what percentage of applicants abandon their online applications before they're completed.
If they don't know, ask your applicant-tracking-system vendor to cough up that info. It's essential, because those runaway brainiacs represent talent you could have had in your shop had your homegrown Godzilla not scared it away.
Originally Posted On: Linked IN By: Liz Ryan
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