All Hat, No Cattle

John Whitaker Recruiting

I’ll start by making one broad assumption, which seems to be commonly accepted in the world of Talent Acquisition:

  • It’s a candidate’s market. (Just don’t try to tell that to someone who’s been unemployed for 6+ months.)

This one simple dynamic has incredible ripple effects throughout the staffing community. The challenges are apparent (at least they are to a recruiter), but the collective response is lacking. When I say “response,” I don’t mean the communicative variety; I give you my 100% guarantee that any nuggets of information I share with you here today have been taken on by hundreds of others before me, some of whom have their snarky profiles on this very site (present company included). No, I mean “responsive” as in taking action. Sometimes in this profession, it’s like being in a fantastic brain-storm meeting with a half-dozen “dreamers,” discussing how to change the world—it feels wonderful, it’s highly informational (even inspirational), but when you leave the meeting you realize you have NO action items.

But now we have a Charlie Foxtrot on our hands—a regular perfect storm—a candidate’s market combined with a bad candidate experience. The ironic thing, of course, is we created this mess ourselves, right? It seemed so revolutionary at the time, but:

"Get a dog, little longie"

“Get a dog, little longie”

  1. Technology has changed the game, for the good and bad. We have effectively created universal access to jobs via online posting. To stem the tide, most companies have made the online application process such an undertaking (Really, who asks someone to re-build their resumé?) that a casual candidate will immediately opt out. So we attract a huge audience, and now we want to throw tomatoes at ’em. We are effectively frustrating a larger group of people, because….
  2. We cast a net that is entirely too big. I know I’m as guilty as any of you of loading a requisition into my ATS, hitting the button and watching the magic, but posting to CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Indeed, Dice, Monster, etc. at the same time is just begging for a resumé beat-down. We do this, of course, because there is an emphasis on speed of hire vs. “quality of hire.” We have created systems to allow the collection of an unlimited amount of resumés, regardless of whether we actually look at them. This creates a system that rewards people who are quicker to respond. Which might explain why…
  3. CV submission is up 133% in just the last 3 years. We made a game with huge loopholes, so candidates are responding by using the “serial” application approach. It’s estimated that a candidate applying for one job is also applying to at least 12 others at the same time. Active job-seekers have alerts to inform them when a job meets their qualifications and (or at least it matches clever keywords they have utilized) no position goes unexplored—regardless of “fit.” We made it a numbers game. This obviously creates a situation that challenges the mental well-being of recruiters because…
  4. Requisition loads are still increasing. Companies, perhaps burned by over-staffing Talent Acquisition in the past, are ill-prepared for the influx of positions that are being assigned to them. It’s not uncommon to find a recruiter with 50+ requisitions, which is just north of insane. But the hiring demand is increasing, which leads to additional requisitions multiplied by the resumé tsunami; this equals a very overwhelmed, frustrated staffing professional. And they aren’t alone…
  5. Candidates are peeved, too. Ask your Sales division this question: “What if your sales process immediately disengaged almost 80% of your prospective clients?” You think they would still use that process? I’m going to hazard a guess and say “NO!”. So why do we recruit that way?

Btw, the joke is on us: Some of the best talent is left buried in the pile of resumés we never even review. Others are so frustrated by the chore of the ridiculous online application process they not only opt out, they become ex-customers as well.

Customer #1, the candidate, is unhappy. Customer #2, the organization, is short-served. The middle-man (that’s us, folks) is overwhelmed and reduced to a resumé screening machine.

And that doesn’t even touch on the subject of passive candidate searches, which rightly deserves a post unto itself. As a matter of fact, mark me down for that very topic on my next post, cuz I’m just getting warmed up.

Like I said, these problems are not a revelation to any recruiting professional reading this post. But what are we doing about it? There seem to be solutions offered tenfold by the day—just check Twitter profiles and you’ll find thousands of people, products, services and offerings that cure the problem.

But it’s a poor musician that blames his instrument. Or, as we might say in Texas, HR is “All hat and no cattle.” We can look the part, but can we bring the herd home?

It’s up to YOU, friends. We can write pointed blog pieces until we’re blue in the face, but it’s still up to you. Find an opportunity to influence the way we’re doing business, or prepare for the perpetuation of a broken process.

John Whitaker

John Whitaker (“Whit”) is Vice President of Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners and the founder of HRHardball.com (2008). He specializes in building and developing strong recruiting teams who are unafraid of “kicking the ant pile.” Like most Texans, he loves to tell a story (especially those that include an armadillo or a poker game) and cutting through the chaff…don’t take it personal.