C Level Executives and Owners

H1 B Article

This article is worth a read here.  The author is right, and wrong.  I’d say, in a free economy, come who may and work or not.  The problem is we don’t live in a free economy, we live in a highly managed one.  Managed mostly to the benefit of employers, who then turn around and demand workers at wages even lower than they’ve managed to push them already.  If you’re running a company and the only way you can get someone to take a job is via a form of indentured servitude, and to catch them fleeing from having to live next to a leper colony, you’re doing something horrifically wrong.

And even though I’m a libertarian bordering on anarcho-capitalist, held back only by the fact that I think it’s a nice ideal but will never happen, I have to say if you don’t understand why H1Bs piss people off, you’re just burying your head in the sand.  As if these crony capitalist corporate leeches don’t get enough handouts, bailouts, subsidies, and favors, then they get to bitch about nonexistent talent shortages and import borderline slaves to work for, well, slave wages?  It won’t be long before this kind of behavior among the corporate elite gets them a crowd with torches and pitchforks at their door.

… And Yet More “Recruiting is Sales!” Bullshit

Yet another article, again predictably on LinkedIn, claiming recruiting is sales.

And yet another blog poster blaming HR for shitty results.  Now, to be fair to the author, Lou Adler, I have found his techniques very helpful in recruiting.  His Performance Based Hiring system is something I’d recommend everyone take a look at, because you’ll invariably learn something useful.  But when you read his stuff, it’s always a lot of anecdotal ‘evidence’ and very little actual evidence.  Up until recently he was one of those people who always claimed ‘passive’ candidates were better, but he and that view in general took a big enough beating recently that it seems even he backed off of that in a recent post.  Specifically because there’s literally zero evidence to justify that view.  Passive candidates are more numerous at any given point in time, that’s all.  How they have performed or will perform in the future is completely independent of their job search status.  I like to think my and others’ heckling of this bullshit on sites like Ere.net might have helped lead to this shift in rhetoric.

So, here in this article Lou wants recruiting to report to the CEO.  Here I’ll have to go Lou’s way and speak in anecdotes and experience, I’ve looked and I’m not sure the evidence on this subject.  My suspicion is he could be right, but there is a deeper problem; assuming recruiting is sales, and a lack of accountability, and sales people are aces at avoiding accountability.

The idea that HR is some obstacle is really not the case.  As both an agency and corporate recruiter, I’ve worked with HR departments that were helpful, and others that were obstacles.  I’ve worked with hiring managers that were helpful, and others that were obstacles.  In the C suite I’ve worked with execs who were helpful, and others that were obstacles.  The reporting relationships were generally not the issue, the issue was no one gave a shit and no one was accountable.  My suspicion is the problems with recruiting stem from the fact that no one really gives a shit about their employees, plain and simple.  Here in the US you’re “lucky to have a job,” our hours worked are up, our benefits are down, our PTO is basically non existent, and our wages are largely stagnant.  This does not indicate an environment that values employees, but rather one that sees them as disposable.

There are two views of sales in my world: good sales people are into needs fulfillment and will advise and consult with people to make good decisions, bad sales people are scum bags chasing a commission, who will do anything to get it.  The majority of recruiters, in my experience, fall into the latter category.  And even for the existing ‘good’ ones, few companies out there are concerned enough with meeting the needs of their employees in order to get them engaged and retain them, much less recruit them.  More often than not, they just work them to burn out and then replace them.  There’s just not that much to sell when the preferred approach to employment is churn and burn, to be blunt.

More ‘sales’ does not solve the problem.  Sales people are not accountable in good organizations because they’re good sales people, they’re accountable because there’s a good manager there bringing objective reality to the situation, so when they say their numbers aren’t at quota, s/he can look at their excuses and say objectively if they have a point or not.  There are objective stats to go over and measure against.  More sales will not bring that to recruiting, nor will changing the reporting relationships, but accountability will.

In Lou’s own method, you have to justify a ‘No’ vote on a hire as much as a ‘Yes.’  ‘No’ can cost the company as much as ‘yes,’ if it’s the wrong move.  But it takes an accountant to realize that, not a sales person.  Sales people are notoriously blind to opportunity cost, and the concept of accountability is often in direct contradiction in their minds with the customer always being right.  What’s missing from recruiting is supply chain and accounting principles that let people spot the cost of not hiring and bad hires, or poor retention, not a lack of sales.  They need to understand the cost of not having what you need when you need it, or having the wrong stuff there.  If anything there’s too much damn sales of the bullshit kind in recruiting, and too little objective reality, too few people calling bullshit on bad hiring decisions, whether it’s not hiring or hiring the wrong person.  A buyer in a factory who refused to buy materials needed to keep it going, and who gave vague ass reasons about ‘fit’ and ‘culture’ as to why they didn’t buy when the factory ground to a halt, would be fired.  As a manager or recruiter, you get praised for doing the same thing, and sales people facilitate this bullshit, they don’t check it.

As for reporting to the CEO, well you can go that route or not, I don’t think it will make a difference one way or another.  The real truth is the costs of poor recruiting and poor management are not captured by most companies except in the vaguest, most diffuse ways, much less are they factored into the bottom line calculations, so the costs of poor decisions are unacknowledged and unseen by most.  We live in a world where labor is increasingly seen as disposable, where the costs of treating labor as disposable aren’t even tallied in most cases, and yet where every company, regardless of how horrendously it treats its employees, expects to get Top! Talent! at bargain basement prices, and then to expend no effort whatsoever in the retention of that talent.  And they think this way, in large part I believe, because a bunch of sales people taught them too.

“No, no, Mr. Manager, it makes total sense to not hire someone because their degree is from a school that has a football rivalry with your alma mater, we’ll get you someone else…”

“Absolutely, Mr. Manager, turnover of 500% is normal, especially when your preferred method of managing people is screaming at them and calling them names, we’ll get you some more people for that position shortly…”

“No worries, Mr. Manager, paid time off is for pussies, and it’s totally alright to fire someone because their parents were killed in a car accident and they needed to attend the funeral.  Don’t worry, we’ll have a replacement for you soon…”

“You’re right, Mr. Manager, how dare that lady take PTO to see her child in the E.R. after an accident when she didn’t have enough time accrued in her bucket, we’ll get you a replacement by tomorrow…”

These are all real life examples I’ve either experienced myself or heard first hand from other recruiters and HR people.  I truly don’t think people like Lou are clued in to how horrendously bad most companies treat their employees and how little they give a shit about their ‘talent.’  And because of that lack of value, there is a lack of accountability in obtaining and retaining talent.  The reporting relationship doesn’t matter in the end, no one gives enough of a shit about the goal for it to matter.  They say they care, every company gives lip service to caring about its employees, but actions are what matter.  And, in action, most companies couldn’t care less about their employees.  They’d happily throw them into a wood chipper if it meant higher quarterly profits.

That is the root of mediocre hiring, not reporting relationships.  If Talent Acquisition reported to the CEO, they would still have jack shit to work with in terms of stats to convince the CEO that there was an issue, and the CEO will likely consider himself or herself a God among people, generously dispensing jobs to the lucky, and how dare they speak about market rates for labor, or paid time off for vacations, etc.  The new modern worker is expected to work 90 hours a week, never take a vacation, never work remotely, never leave the office, never get a raise, never have a medical problem, never have to do anything, ever, which might require leaving their desk for one picosecond.  That is the problem, and it’s not one a different reporting relationship will solve.

Again, my opinion.  But after ten years in this business, I feel confident saying that most employers couldn’t give a shit less about their ‘talent.’  And I also feel confident in saying that a lack of acknowledgement of the ‘sales’ aspects of recruiting isn’t the problem.  If anything, it’s too much sales and not enough incorporation of the principles of accounting, engineering, and management into the recruiting process.  We need fewer sales types in recruiting and more who are ready and willing to start using data and stats to hold people accountable.  When a hiring manager leaves a position open for months on end, they need to stop being praised for being ‘picky’ and an objective assessment of who they’ve interviewed and not hired, and what that’s cost the company, needs to be made.  When a manager has high turnover they need to stop being praised for being ‘demanding,’ and to start being held accountable for the extra cost of replacing people on their team more often.  When clients don’t return your calls or don’t give feedback on candidates you’ve sent, you need to stop labeling those accounts as ‘challenging,’ and instead drop them and find new clients.  When a company keeps losing people due to the fact that their hours or their PTO policies suck dog ass, it’s time they acknowledged that and were called out for what they are – sweatshops – instead of glossing it over or claiming people just don’t want to work hard anymore.  None of these things require more ‘sales’ or a different reporting relationship, they just require someone in a key position to give a shit, which very few do.

That is the problem.

EDIT: Also, Lou did make one incredibly good point in the article: the lack of a good system.  Most ATS systems are cumbersome pieces of shit, barely adequate for their purposes.  Most HR people work to make them even worse, requiring people to type and retype their life story forty ways from Sunday before being able to submit an application, after which sometimes a resume screener just looks for key words and kicks them out if they don’t match a profile.  The nature of most ATS systems is compliance oriented, they are not designed to get better performing hires.  If they were, it wouldn’t be so hard to apply for one, and they would be action oriented for another, with regular automated reminders built in.  One of the main problems, at least with agency recruiting, is the sheer number of people you deal with goes way pas Dunbar’s number, and it’s up to you to do everything in terms of scheduling follow ups, etc.  A simple ATS that just reminded people to call candidate X, or Hiring Manager Y, for a follow up would likely blow all the others out of the water with that functionality alone.

Edit Again: Also, if you read the comments in Lou’s post, you’ll see a lot of bitching about HR.  Usually along the lines of how stupid they are, or how they are incompetent because they aren’t experts in the field in which they’re recruiting.  The latter is certainly correct, they can’t be experts in everything. However, over the last few decades they have been expected to be, and have performed pretty well living up to an impossible task.  At my last job, in order to truly hire for the company, I would have had to have been an expert in: accounting, project management, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, supply chain, customer service, order entry, information technology, and likely some departments I’m forgetting.  How the fuck can anyone do that?  The answer is they can’t, and the fact that HR generally has done well, if not great, having to cover all those bases is pretty fucking spectacular when you stop to think about it.  And it again goes to the root of the problem, the fact that they have been tasked with that, when in fact it really is the unaccountable almighty managers who are supposed to be the technical experts when hiring their staff.  That they have sloughed off this responsibility on to HR and then blamed them for every fuck up while claiming credit for every success only goes to show how little talent is truly valued.  And the next person to complain about HR should consider that.  Those people have been hiring reasonably successfully for all areas and departments in your company for years, and that they’ve done that kind of shows they’re a hell of a lot more talented than you’re giving them credit for.

Here’s the thing…

I’ve noticed something, something people don’t seem to get, and that is that there’s a compounding effect among the factors that make a bad job bad.  Put another way, as jobs get worse, they tend to get worse more exponentially than they do linearly.

For example, a place that stresses people such that they have increased needs for ‘mental health’ days, is also far less likely to offer enough PTO to allow people mental health days.  The same bad and incompetent management that causes the need strangles the cure, and this goes across the spectrum of issues at work.  Companies that tend to have bad pay also tend to be the ones who think they’re most entitled to good employees.  The same overvaluation of their own worth is what causes them to devalue the contributions of their employees; at once they assume people should be breaking down their door to work there, and so refuse to pay assuming the market is in their favor, when it isn’t.

And it really all comes down to one thing: poor management.  Sometimes it’s just vacuous people with no idea what they’re doing, sometimes it’s outright malicious people who, finally tasting some power, make it their life’s goal to spread the misery they themselves feel.  Most Americans are living lives of quiet desperation, being ground down into shadows of their former selves with no hope in their future, their bosses happily ignorant of the effects of their sheer incompetence on the mental and physical health of their down line.  And there is absolutely no indication that this will change, ever.

A Recruiter.com Article I Commented On

There’s an article here at Recruiter.com that I decided to comment on.  Here’s the comment:

“‘It’s weird that we haven’t built any tools for team leaders at all,’ Buckingham says. ‘We have none – not even a few good ones. We have zero.'”

Team leaders themselves are employees, and at the root of this disengagement problem is the fact that companies do not actually value their employees. That’s why they don’t have the tools they need. Companies say they value their employees, they give lip service to doing so, but this value is not reflected in their actual actions; pay offered, benefits offered, work-life balance, having skilled managers, and opportunities for development and advancement. You have to actually have all those things to get people engaged, not just mention them in a speech every now an then but never deliver. Rhetoric is not enough, we are in the information age where reality trumps Sales! oriented rhetoric of promises with no follow through, and people can increasingly see through the BS on a shorter and shorter time scale. It takes them far less time these days to realize their CEO is full of crap.

As long as companies fail to deliver on the things that will create engagement, they can measure it all they want and it won’t get better. As mentioned in the article, you can’t make a pig fatter by weighing it more often. So, the message to companies who want to increase engagement should be, pull your heads out of your posteriors and start taking actions that will increase engagement instead of endlessly fussing about it, but not doing anything about it. Most will do nothing, because increasing engagement will mean addressing and valuing employees’ concerns which may not seem immediately tied to bottom line improvements, because few if any companies tally the cost of disengagement and factor that into their financial judgements. But, it’s an easy start.

Step one, examine your salary structure and make sure people are making market wages, perhaps pay more if you think you need to compensate for things you can’t deliver, perhaps a bit less because of other perks you do offer, but there can’t be a massive disparity between your pay and the market mean, or you’re screwed.

Step two, examine your benefits and again, make sure they are on part with the market. This is an area where you can make a big dent because while time off is not very costly to offer, it makes a huge difference in people’s lives. Examine your health plans, time off plans, and work hours, and make sure they are all reasonable from an employee’s perspective. Try adhering to it yourself, and if you can’t do so without availing yourself of the perks of ‘flexibility’ offered to higher-ups, how the hell do you expect them to live on it? If people are working significantly more than 40 hours a week on a consistent basis, find out why and put a stop to it, or they will burn out and turnover, plain and simple. If your vacation plan is the standard plan of Go To Hell, Get Back To Work, revise it. Talk to a few brokers and see if you can get better health coverage if that’s a factor as well, it’s not hard.

Step three, start looking at your existing employees as resources and start considering advancement and succession planning. The institutional knowledge they have is often priceless, so capitalize on it and actually try to retain them proactively instead of waiting for their resignations and then wondering what happened. This can dramatically cut recruitment costs by shifting the need to back filling more basic positions. Always exhaust the internal pool of all possibilities before hiring outside.

These are not hard, and if done would correct most companies’ engagement problems. In many cases they’re not even costly, and yet companies still refuse to do them. That is an indicator of how much they actually care about engagement. In simpler terms, they don’t care, or it would be dealt with already.

Recruiter.com Reply

Since Recruiter.com keeps deleting my reply to Art on this article, I figured I’d post it here.  Just got back from a Caribbean trip and catching up with work, missing the blue water.

Reply to Art:

I think you missed the point, Art. The title of the article is, “Is Passive Talent Better Than Active Job Seekers?,” and is not asking whether or not a passive strategy is a good, and sometimes necessary thing, which it is. However, the incessant harping on passive! talent by many recruiting ‘thought leaders’ leads to just that problem: people think ‘passive’ means ‘better.’ It doesn’t. It just means the person in question wasn’t actively looking for a job when they were contacted.

The best qualified person is the one who performs better, it doesn’t depend on how they were sourced. The correct approach is to always employ both active and passive strategies to varying degrees, depending on the needs of the particular position as in the situations you mention, and pick the best person from the pool of people you get regardless of how they were sourced.

The problem at base is that thanks to the incessant harping on this issue it has been reframed in the minds of many people outside the industry as passive = inherently better, when in reality it’s just a marketing distinction to delineate strategies for reaching as wide a candidate pool as possible. It is not a determinant of job performance. But, that’s how many see it. That’s the problem, because people then pass over ‘active’ candidates who could very well be superstars because, well hell, they’re not passive!, so how good could they really be? Hell, they’re looking for a new job.

After all, we wouldn’t want to employ anyone who actually wants to work for or with us, would we?

Article for Review

It seems one of my comments inspired an author to write a whole new column.  I plan to have a response up here soon.  I have various points of agreement and disagreement with the author, I’ll get them up here over the next few days.  This column is definitely worth a read though.

Article on Downsizing

From Recruiter.com.  Worth a read, my comment at the bottom makes a point I’ve always thought needed to be addressed.  Human capital is managed to a lesser extent than any other on the market.  I know of no company, literally none, that even knows what revenue is contributed on average on a position level, much less an individual employee level.  Not only do they not really know who to cut and retain in hard times, they don’t know who they should concentrate on retaining in good times, and who is more or less replaceable.

Advice for Hiring Managers and Owners

Consider your off time policy.  Consider this: in other countries there are mandatory amounts of off time imposed by the government.  Usually anywhere from 20-30 days, more when mandatory holidays are counted.  In the US, nothing is mandated, at least not yet.  Based on my own experience people in the US average 15 days of ‘off’ time including vacation and sick time.  I put ‘off’ in quotes because, during that time, they’re usually still working.  They’re on the phone, they’re checking email, they’re not working at 100% capacity, but they are still working.  Speaking with someone from Europe, if you ask, “Who does your job when you’re not at work?” the standard answer would be, “No one.  I start working again when I get back from vacation…”  Also, they often don’t take all their vacation.  Realistically they’re looking at two weeks off if they’re lucky.

Put simply, people in the US are starting to get pissed.  I don’t agree with socialism as a way to do things, but the simple fact is they have proven that your workforce doesn’t need to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Your company will not crumble to dust if someone goes on vacation for a week.  Also people in the US are increasingly aware of how badly they’re getting fucked in this area.  The workforce is globalizing, information is certainly flowing, I’d recommend hedging your bets and offering something now before it gets mandated.  This country is increasingly heading to the left in a lot of ways, pretty soon I don’t doubt we’ll have true single payer healthcare among other things.

Now, here’s some math to show you people how stingy you motherfuckers are.  There are approximately 2080 work hours in a standard year.  Two weeks total time off is 80 hours, or approximately 4% of the overall time.  Four weeks of off time, or 160 hours, would be approximately 7.5% down time.  This is not a major amount of time.  Christ, I’ve seen maintenance schedules for manufacturing equipment that give the fucking machines more ‘vacation’ time than the people that maintain them.

For more exact numbers:

One week of off time is 1.92% of the total work year.  Two weeks of off time is 3.85%.  Three weeks of off time is 5.77%.  And four weeks of off time is 7.69%.

When you own a machine that manufacturers widgets you know it’s limits, you know when it needs ‘off time’ for maintenance, and you know pushing those limits means potentially losing a valuable resource to wear and tear.  Why is it you people don’t realize the same applies to your employees?

Take a fucking hint and give your employees a break, literally.  Stop working people until burnout and then replacing them when they fail.  It’s inhuman, it’s poor business strategy, and it’s just a plain old dick move.

Myths That Need to be Busted

If there were two myths in hiring I’d say absolutely need to be busted, I’d say it’s these two:

1) Employees are a Cost.  This is utter bullshit.  In any exchange, it happens because of a reverse valuation; which means each person wants what the other has more than what they’re giving them in exchange for it.  If you value two things equally, there’s no need to exchange because it doesn’t matter.  In the context of employment, the employee wants the salary more than the time spent on the job, and the employer wants the work product more than the salary paid for it.  As such, employees are an addition to a company’s revenue stream.  When any individual trades something they have for something they want more than that thing, they have made a return, or a profit.  Same goes for employers.  So companies need to stop acting as if employees are a cost and see them for what they are: additions to their revenue stream.  They need to start realizing vacancies have a cost, both in lost revenue from that position, but also lost revenue for everyone who has to pick up the slack and so potentially not performing their primary duties to the best of their ability.  Over staffing is certainly possible, but as long as employees are seen as a cost, all companies are always over staffed, because at least on an accounting level, they would be better off without everyone.  Of course, if that happened then the company is gone too.

Newsflash for employers: you’re not doing anyone a favor by employing them.  It’s a mutual exchange that benefits both parties.  Pull your heads out of your asses and start treating your employees as what they are: revenue generators.

2) There’s a labor shortage.  Pure bullshit.  There’s a documented labor surplus, and I and other recruiters have routinely seen multiple instances of tens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of applicants for an open position where the hiring manager claims none are qualified.  It’s not the candidates, it’s not a labor shortage, it’s not the recruiters.  The problem is no accountability for hiring with the managers.  There’s plenty of qualified people out there, your hiring managers are not accountable, nor do you have an honest, realistic assessment of what you offer as an employer.  Every employer thinks they deserve the Fabulous 5%, the top performers in any industry.  Horseshit.  You’re an average company with average salaries and average managers, you’re going to get average people.  Fucking deal with it.  You’re not Google, you have no benefits, you offer mediocre to no time off, who the fuck do you think is going to want to work for you?  You had better do an honest assessment of where you stand.  Think of yourself as a manufacturer of employment opportunities.  And then realize that, if it were any other product, that if your market strategy was to bitch and moan about how inept your customers were for not being willing to buy your clearly superior product for the ridiculously high price you charge, you’d be out of business in a heart beat.  In this case the high price you’re charging is the ridiculous discount to the mean salary offered in the area that you expect people to take for the ‘privilege’ of working at your company.

It’s time for employers to pull their heads out of their asses and start taking ownership of the hiring process.  If employment at your company isn’t attractive that’s your fault, and you need to correct it.  Control bad managers, up your salaries to something more reasonable, and start holding people accountable for getting positions filled.  And for those places with screaming, abusive owners, have the balls to be the one who explains to them how pathetic that behavior is and how horrible it is for their own business.

And if you aren’t willing to do those things, then don’t blame everyone else for your problems.  You aren’t serving your customers right, and that’s your fault, not theirs.

Recruiting Revolution?

Nice essay here, but is there any evidence that, “[t]he recruitment industry has gotten lazy and a revolution is upon us?” Revolution usually means a shake up of some sorts – advancement, new technology or processes, etc., – whereas here, revolution seems to mean acting like we’re still in the seventies. There are a couple problems with that, I see.

‘Lazy’ recruiting is effective as far as many corporations are concerned. If you took two batches of resumes, one into which you poured your heart and soul, and the other which you sourced real quick with minimal work via a mass email campaign, they’re likely to get the same consideration from the client, or the hiring manager for those already on the corporate side. Put another way, the ability to jump on the phones and cold call is not the rate-limiting step in the recruiting process.

I don’t know of anyone who removed their resume from a database because they were worried about being seen as “active.” In fact, few outside the recruiting industry even know what the jargon of “active” and “passive” means. Resume databases lost their effectiveness because they lost their newness, the initial crowds of people who went there because they were active are now passive, but still in the database. The postings which were once new are now ubiquitous, and buried among thousands of others that look much the same.

There has been no revolution in recruiting, all I see is more of the same. Job boards are just hopped up versions of the white pages and corporate directories. LinkedIn is more of the same. Social media outlets are a slightly different version of the same thing. These are all just means of contacting people, and many of these people won’t pick up the phone when called, so these means of finding and contacting people compliment cold calling, they don’t replace it. If communication is key, then one form of communication doesn’t trump all others. The one that’s the most effective for a given situation is what should be used. Calling ten people from warm leads gotten via an email campaign and then cold calling some of the desirable candidates I wanted but who didn’t respond is way more effective than cold calling 70+ people a day from scratch, in my experience.

Here’s what a genuine revolution in recruiting would be: Honesty with candidates and clients.

To start, explain to everyone that salary matters and it can’t be ignored. This is not a statement on low salaries, but one about the inherent taboo in even discussing the topic. I can’t count the amount of times people have nearly had heart attacks when I’ve discussed salary ranges openly and honestly with candidates and clients at the start, or near to it, of a conversation. “Why would you do that?!” I recall one person asking me. Apparently you’re supposed to speak to people for an hour and get their life story, and then find out they’re making 10-20K more than your client is willing to pay. Also, you’re apparently also supposed to take any job at any price and not even mention to your client that since they’re targetting a salary that’s 30%+ below market rate, it might take a while and/or they might need to sacrifice quality. When this BS ends and both candidates and companies honestly face their own worth on the market, that will be a revolution in recruiting.

Further, being able to have a greater effect on, and potentially fix dysfunctional hiring processes would be revolutionary. Having had to do this myself for two companies now, I know how difficult it is, and being back on the agency side I’ve felt the effects of ones I couldn’t change. As long as the majority of hiring processes are dysfunctional, that will be the rate limiting step in recruiting. An unwillingness to get on the phone is not necessarily the problem with recruiters today. I’ve seen the best firms put the best candidates into the meat grinder of a dysfunctional hiring process, and that is the rate limiting factor in recruiting.

The real revolution in recruiting will be taking as much of the ‘art’ – BS in other words – out of the process as possible by outlining standards and best practices for hiring that are based on evidence, and not merely plausible sounding rhetoric or the pontifications of people like Steve Jobs, and then having honest conversations with those who come up short, both companies whose processes are deficient and candidates who think they should be hired with no vetting whatsoever.

One of the first moves toward that end of evidence based hiring is for someone to actually present evidence that so called ‘passive’ candidates are better. Evidence would be direct evidence of better performance and longer tenure than so called ‘active’ candidates. Unless that’s presented then it’s a marketing distinction for targeting different audiences, not one that’s linked to actual candidate quality or subsequent performance.

A further revolutionary step would be stop looking at Employers of Choice uncritically, assuming all their methods should or even could be adopted by companies without the brand pull they have. Most companies operate with far less brand recognition and far tighter budgets and human resources. Truly revolutionary methods will work to improve hiring regardless of the company that uses them.

I’ve used the term rate limiting in this post a couple of times. In chemistry and biology a rate limiting step is basically the slowest step in a process that determines the speed of the rest of the process. If you’re talking mechanical systems, you could say be dealing with a pump that pushes 10 gallons of water per minute. If you want more per minute then it won’t matter how much water you add to reservoir, it will still only pump 10 gallons a minute to the destination. The pump is what needs to be changed. In recruiting the rate limiting step in most companies is the hiring process. And we as recruiters are constantly trying to put more water (candidates) in the client’s reservoir in the hope that more will end up hired, but it doesn’t work that way. The pump is too slow, and in many cases is broken. What’s more, a good number of companies engage in such poor hiring and management practices that they actively work against their own ability to hire quality people by destroying their reputation as employers.

To finish, we also live in a highly managed market, and it’s mostly special interests, those with money and thus political pull, who manage this market. Companies, from small to large, all have more pull politically at the local, state, and federal levels, than individual workers. That’s why politicians never raise the minimum wage until the currency has devalued to such a point that raising it is essentially a meaningless act. That’s why industries often write the legislation that gets passed. And, whether actively or simply as a byproduct of pursuing their own interests in the political process, businesses have essentially managed the labor market into a permanent surplus of labor. And as long as there is this perceived plenty of labor, and businesses think there’s always someone new ready to replace anyone they don’t like, they won’t put any serious resources into getting good people or keeping the ones they already have. They will continue to run people ragged and then replace them when they burn out. They will continue to demand loyalty from their workers while they show none. They will cut labor in seconds if the bottom line dictates it, but if an employee makes the same decision based on a better offer they are black listed.

This imbalance of power in the employer-employee relationship dictates the quality of the process in the end. This imbalance is the result of economic reality, because employees are disposable and easily replaced in many cases – but also critically the result of social mores. The ‘entrepreneur’ is deified even though no such thing exists, while the laborer is considered a loser of sorts. The entrepreneurial function is an economic concept that just differentiates the profit of risk taking from the capital return of funding a production process, minus the uncertainty and risk, for pedagogical purposes. In reality all people serve all economic functions to varying extents. Those who tend more toward the entrepreneurial function take on more risk, but they are also usually a mix of private entrepreneur, one who makes money by taking risks and satisfying customers, and political entrepreneur, which is one who makes money by using the government to turn the arm of his potential customers by limiting competition. There is no pure, Ayn Randian ‘producer’ or ‘entrepreneur’ in reality. But, thanks to rhetoric from both the right and left wing, and well meaning but somewhat theoretical economists of various stripes, we are taught to deify the entrepreneur a no one else. The owner/CEO of a business and his cohorts get a pass on poor, immoral, and unethical behavior, while everyone else gets held to a higher standard.

Once that stops, maybe then a revolution is recruiting is possible. Until then, it isn’t, because the peasants have no power.