Outside-the-Box Wacky Ideas for
Hiring Better People
Lou Adler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Adler is the president of The Adler Group, a training and
consulting firm that develops leading-edge recruiting strategies.
the past few years I've made some pretty wild assertions on these pages about
how to hire better people. While they have caused quite a stir, and despite the
inevitable nay-saying, they've all proved out to be extremely effective.
are my choices for the top 10 wackiest ideas on how to hire better people.
processes must be designed to hire great employees, not great candidates.
job descriptions prevent companies from hiring top people.
interviewing has limited value in assessing candidates for bigger jobs.
only need one question to assess candidate competency and motivation.
cost and time metrics are useless for process control.
boards aren't worth squat unless you know the secrets of semi-sourcing.
looking at the resumes of, or talking with, unqualified people.
tracking systems need to be designed and based on the needs of great
recruiters and top candidates.
is still the best way to find and hire top people.
quality of the recruiting team determines the quality of the people hired.
you're not hiring enough top people, you're probably limiting yourself by not
thinking out of the box enough. To get started try implementing some of these
ideas. They are further described below.
top employees, not top candidates. [For
Entire Article] Top employees are competent and motivated
to do the work, they work well with others, and they exceed expectations. Top
candidates, on the other hand, have great resumes, are enthusiastic, on time,
and prepared, and make good first impressions. If too many of your new employees
fall short once on the job, you're probably hiring top candidates instead of top
employees. This typically happens when you overvalue presentation skills at the
expense of performance. Research shows that only one-third of the best employees
present well, and two-thirds of those that present well aren't top employees. So
you're missing a lot of great people and making a lot of mistakes by using the
wrong measurement stick.
[For Entire Article]
It's been shown that clarifying expectations upfront is the key to achieving
peak performance. When you over-emphasize skills and experiences to screen
candidates, you inadvertently preclude the best employees from
consideration. Here's an idea: minimize the use of traditional job
descriptions in any of your public postings. Instead, describe what people
need to achieve with these skills and some of the opportunities available.
Then watch the quality of your candidates soar. It's what people do with
what they have that determines their success, so play this part up. This is
why performance profiles that list the real job deliverables in priority
order is the first step to hiring stronger people.
sure your job descriptions define success, not skills.
[For Entire Article]
For higher level positions, traditional behavioral interviewing has limited
value. Part of this is due to the fact that multiple behaviors are needed to
perform more complex tasks (e.g., management plus initiative plus team
skills). The other part is the need to assess the environment, culture, and
performance requirements of the job during the interview. These problems are
solved by asking candidates to describe their major accomplishments in great
detail. This is the one-question interview. Then use behavioral questions to
clarify how each task was accomplished. This way, you can assess how the
candidate's mix of behaviors and skills were used to achieve results.
behavioral interviewing and the one-question interview.
[For Entire Article]
For strategic game-breaker positions, candidate quality must be the key
driver, not cost or time. Quality still should be the primary metric for any
important positions that directly affect company performance. For less
important positions, time to fill and cost per hire are valid measures of
success. Frequently these are the positions that can be outsourced. However,
to impact results here you still should measure activity when it occurs, not
weeks or months later. This is the big lesson learned from TQM and Six
Sigma: errors need to be tracked and eliminated as close to the time they
occur as possible.
better metrics, or measure the right stuff in real time.
[For Entire Article]
There are many top people who look at job boards infrequently, generally
after a particularly bad day. These are what I call semi-active candidates.
While these people want another job, they won't jump through hoops to apply
unless the job is attractive. If you design your advertising to attract
these less-active candidates, you'll be able to find some exceptional people
at very low cost. To attract their attention, make sure your ads are highly
visible and compelling, and then make sure that you describe opportunities
rather than emphasize requirements. If the jobs directly tie to the company
strategy, all the better. This whole process is called job branding. Now
consider this: the Corporate Executive Board's Recruiting Roundtable has
shown that job branding is one of the two most important things you must do
to hire top people. Don't forget, though, that you must call these people
within 24 hours (the half-life of semi-active candidates), so efficient
backend systems are important.
semi-sourcing and job branding to improve job board advertising.
Recruiters spend too much valuable time
looking at the resumes of, or talking with, unqualified candidates. Stop.
The best applicant tracking systems have great filtering systems to rank
order resumes (look at Resume Mirror or Burning Glass if yours doesn't do
this). If the candidates at the top of the sort aren't good enough, don't
look at any more resumes. Instead, run a more compelling and visible ad, or
expand your sourcing channels. Also, make sure all referred candidates are
pre-qualified, whether you obtained these names by networking or through the
employee referral program.
Entire Article] Most ATSs are designed
around a requisition-based workflow. Recruiters don't work this way. Their
work is based on task priorities. The best ATSs adjust for this by providing
customizable desktops with folders and alerts to ensure that important data
is pushed to the recruiter daily. Semi-active candidates don't have time to
apply, so candidate-friendliness must also be an integrated ATS design
feature. Unfortunately, too many ATSs were designed to meet the needs of the
purchaser rather than their primary users. Recruiter productivity will soar
along with better candidates with the addition of these two features.
and recruiter-friendly ATSs (Applicant Tracking System) should not be
Article] You should be able to hire at least 50% of your people by aggressively
networking with your best employees, top candidates, industry experts,
vendors, customers, and trade association members. This is a vast source of
untapped and readily available talent. To start this, you'll need great
recruiters working the phones asking for the names of top people, not for
those looking for jobs. Then you must brand your jobs as described above,
clearly describing the deliverables. Of course, you must make sure the
application process is super easy. When networking is done properly, you'll
quickly have many more great people checking out your website and attempting
to apply. Don't disappoint them.
still find the best people through networking.
Entire Article] The best people always have multiple opportunities. They get counter-offers,
have second thoughts, and consult spouses and advisors for advice.
Recruiters are the ones called upon for this extra information, counseling,
and hand-holding. They must know the job, they must interview well, and they
must be able to negotiate fair offers despite having too many other things
to do. Make sure you assign your strongest recruiters to handle your
strategic game-breaker positions. Then, even if you don't do everything
described above, you'll still be able to hire the best people for these
critical positions. Unless the hiring managers do it themselves, the quality
of the people a company hires correlates directly with the quality of the
recruiters are needed to hire great people.
biggest wild and crazy idea is the possibility that hiring top talent can be a
systematic business process. You're 90% there if you do everything described
above. Wow! Now that's the wackiest idea of them all.
is the president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm that
develops leading-edge recruiting strategies. Adler is a veteran recruiter and
founder of CJA Executive Search. He's also the creator and founder of POWER
Hiring and "Zero-based Hiring -- The Six Sigma Process for Hiring Top
Talent." His industry career included general management positions with
the Allen Group, as well as senior-level financial management positions with
Rockwell International's Automotive and Consumer Electronics groups. Lou is
the author of the bestselling, Hire With Your Head - Using POWER Hiring to
Build Great Companies (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), and the award-winning
Nightingale Conant audio tape program, POWER Hiring: How to Find, Assess,
Hire and Keep Great Talent (1999). Adler holds an MBA from UCLA and a B.S.
in Engineering from Clarkson University, New York.