Sunday, October 03, 2010

Techniques to repel top talent?

The headline is from an intriguing tweet "Are you using the most effective techniques to repel top talent?" I saw in my timeline earlier today!

The author Kelly Blokdijk, a "talent optimisation" coach-has shared some thoughts on how easily some better worded/communicated advertisements could be considered as talent magnets!

As I reflect back on my experience as a catalyst in many a hiring processes, I realise there are so many other, subtle as they may seem, touch points between a prospective employer and an aspirant-which if managed well ,may lead to a lot of productive engagements!!

More so, in a world, enabled by Internet scrawling alerts, and 'trigger happy' keyboard clickers, most recruiters are faced with a deluge of responses due to overly broad or incoherent job descriptions and a sluggish economy.

Searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack, using innumerable practices to screen the responses -the challenge is to 'uncover people who would perform well and for an extended time in the actual role', as opposed to somebody who is good at resume-writing or who hired a good resume-writer!!

(Ironically, in an earlier blog post I have alluded to that when I wrote selection happens when one fails to reject!!)

Successful recruiting is about lots of small interactions, handled well. The real job of any recruiter is to manage outcomes in the interests of both client and candidate. I for one -feel there are at least three areas employers should focus on!

1. Deciding whom to look for!

Would you believe how most hiring managers develop cold feet in articulating what are the attributes they are looking for? Most often, one finds solace in an amiable HR person doing an impressive 'cut paste' job of something they have seen in the past :-)!?

I advocate that most hiring managers list out certain 'non negotiable competencies' while highlight'ing desirable /good to have' that would help in evaluating those who can hit the ground running -and those who might shape up..with a little bit of hand holding and on the job orientation.

One must also realise that for the same role- different organisations in differing life cycles of growth-would need varied competencies and skills! While start up companies may want multi skilled members who can handle ambiguity, those in a turnaround situation call for personalities different from a firm that is ramping up with acceleration!

2. Screening those captured

Simple as it is, are we sure that the right folks are interviewing the aspirants?

The acid test that is often neglected...are interviewers trained? Do the hiring managers end up hiring pygmies as they less threatened?

It is not amusing-in the mad rush to fill in numbers, one cannot over emphasise the need for a structured mechanism to sensitise the panel to be consistent!!

The most commonly used template- list out what the candidate ought to do, work out what they ought to know in order to do that, and then work out the questions to ask (or the features to look for) that demonstrate the candidate knows those things.

Of course..the challenge is to hire for a greenfield opportunity. What if we were to hire other specialists/ people unlike ourselves?

3. Post mortem- of the hires (and if possible, the 'no hires')

Do we have a practice where we actually store the applications and also record the outcomes—whether we hired them, how they did—and then use that data to constantly improve how we select /shortlist profiles?

One interesting review we could do -say 6 months down the line-is to go over and track who answered correctly and who answered incorrectly and whether the answer had any correlation with a candidate’s eventual job performance.

Can we from time to time, often have people stayed on..not only performed on the roles..but gone on to take on positions of higher responsibility & authority!!?

How do we find out whether any of the profiles we passed over-belonged to people worth hiring? Do we look at the ratings of candidates we passed up and how they ended up producing for other companies that ended up hiring them?

Isn't it time we are serious about hiring really good people, and stopped putting the blinders and demand “Five years of Java J2EE or financial analysis.” And instead identify those who are “smart and get things done.” ?

I shall be glad to have your comments!

PS -Improving the overall interview experience for any applicant- is a topic which will perhaps need another post!! I am sure in time, we will learn to acknowledge the sensitivity/ confidentiality of their candidature-apart from maintaining transparency and providing timely feedback !

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