Those at the helm need to be more involved in the process to find the best talent.
Is it just me (and every job seeker on the planet) who sees how dysfunctional the talent acquisition process has become? Despite the prevalence of new technology, the same problems persist.
I'm sick and tired of watching mediocrity be rewarded as the recruitment industry grows at a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent. You know who I blame? The hiring entrepreneurs and CEOs who enable it.
No matter how bad you want to transform vision into reality, disrupt your space or grow a market leader, the trajectory of your company is contingent on acquiring top talent, period. Regardless of business function (finance, marketing, sales, operations, service or technology), execution is a product of people, and recruitment is the engine that fuels performance.
Here are five progressive rules for optimizing talent acquisition:
1. Keep recruitment internal under the right leadership.
Fact: Most CEOs are too busy growing the business to oversee recruitment, so they outsource their people pipeline to a search firm or hire an "experienced" chief talent officer to do it for them.
Problem: The principals have no idea how the agents source talent (classic principal-agent problem), let alone the fact that most have never worked a day in the functions they recruit for.
Even headhunters acknowledge their two greatest stresses: 1) sourcing qualified candidates, and 2) clients being too slow to make offers. What does that reveal about competency and incentives?
Spend a single day shadowing a headhunter or recruiter, observe their process, and listen to them interview candidates. It won't take long to realize you can do it better.
Solution: Empower someone with cross-functional operations perspective who has developed teams, established KPIs and improved financial performance. They can master what comes next.
2. Proactively develop and grow talent networks.
Fact: Traditional talent acquisition is purely transactional. You post openings to job boards, review applications and resumes, schedule interviews, make a hire, then repeat when the need arises again.
Problem: Job seekers and employers are engaged in process only. There is no ongoing relationship with candidates who may share common vision and values. These are wasted assets.
Solution: Proactively grow your LinkedIn network before you ever have a talent need and encourage internal leaders, from COO to service manager, to do this for 60 minutes each week.
For example, type "sales manager" into the search bar. Sort by "people," specify location, and apply industry filters. Filter to second-degree connections only. Then click "connect" to the right of each result.
Do not research profiles. Just click "connect." Of every 100 invitations, 30 to 40 percent will accept. I know this because I grew my network from 500 to 26,000+ in three years – primarily CxOs, VPs and directors.
3. Create awareness and champion self-selection.
Fact: In a recent Indeed survey, 71 percent of workers admitted to actively searching for a new opportunity. Most are trying to escape bad leadership, boost their earning potential or tackle a greater challenge.
Problem: You never know when and where they are looking, or what their motivations are. How do you maximize your exposure to game-changers while avoiding false positives?
Solution: Instead of posting jobs, publish high-level business challenges and invite interested parties to share their solutions and validated results. You'll get fewer applications, but quality will skyrocket.
For example: "Help a domestic market leader expand into Europe and empower a new generation of entrepreneurs with easier access to funding. Our goal is to launch a target market within 12 months, but our team is limited in terms of local contacts, distribution partners and cultural perspective. Email us a bulleted action plan articulating how you will hit the ground running. Include a brief story describing a similar challenge you have conquered, your step-by-step approach, and the measurable value you created: partnerships, sales, market share, revenue, etc."
You don't have to divulge proprietary data to execute this. Also, you can augment your talent network distribution with traditional job board postings, but stick with the same call to action.
4. Evaluate passion, problem-solving and performance.
Fact: Personality profiles, skills assessments, resumes, LinkedIn profiles and responses to generic interview questions tell you nothing about someone's ability to deliver superior results.
Problem: Most companies don't evaluate production until after a hire has been made, but how many better investments were passed over based on keywords and flawed assumptions?
Solution: Screen all submissions for quality. Did they follow instructions and proof their work? If not, goodbye. Do their accomplishments and approach inspire trust? If so, invite them to a pitch day.
Block a two-hour window and invite the following key stakeholders to attend: departmental leader, hiring manager, prospective peers and direct reports. This creates excitement for the future.
Allow each candidate 10 minutes to present a customizable PowerPoint, expounding on their road map. Add 10 minutes for Q&A – at least one question from each attendee.
Evaluate each candidate's preparation, communication, passion, personality, leadership and collaboration skills in a competitive environment. There is no more reliable interview.
After each presentation, solicit private scores from the cast of voters based on who best fits the culture and will deliver superior results. This reinforces team participation and unity.
5. Always hire the best return on investment.
Fact: The most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs surround themselves with game-changers and empower them to perform. Similarly, market leaders consistently hire the best portfolio of talent.
Problem: Far too many companies opt for their second-best option to save money. This is shortsighted and irresponsible, destroys morale, perpetuates mediocrity, and alienates A-list talent.
Solution: Regardless of age or experience, always hire the candidate who garners team consensus as the superior cultural fit and return on investment. To incentivize excellence, you must champion it. Paying $25,000 or more per year to acquire someone with a proven ability to generate $2.5 million more revenue over a 12-month period is not only prudent, it's elementary financial analysis.
As CEO, the moment you elect, or enable others, to hire inferior talent based on factors other than value creation, you are increasing your workload and restricting earning potential.
Right now, you have an important decision to make: Entrust the wrong people to make uninformed decisions and steer top performers to your competition, or take the necessary steps to optimize the engine that will fuel your success?
Every entrepreneur and CEO is hard-wired to solve problems. Imagine how you and your recruitment officer can fine-tune my process with data analytics, ingenuity and continuous improvement.
After all, instead of padding the pockets of agents who do not share your upside equity or downside consequences, wouldn't you rather catapult your own bottom line?