Some executives mistakenly think of hiring as an HR function. But hiring cannot be thought of as solely an HR issue, as something separate from the “real work” of the department. Whenever a new hire fails to make a significant business impact, it is a business problem.
A related big mistake in hiring is not clearly defining your desired business outcomes, up front, before you start recruiting. Hiring always fails when it’s not tightly aligned with business strategy. Yet the most commonly used hiring practices not only don't help, they actively make things worse.
By the way, you barely need to look further than yourself to gauge how effective your current hiring process is. Humans are brilliantly engineered to recognize danger. When you are faced with an important hiring decision, how certain do you feel about the outcome? If you have a buttoned down, proven hiring process that consistently gets great results, you probably feel pretty confident. But when you are nervous about hiring, there is probably an underlying reason. Don't ignore that warning.
Danger is everywhere in hiring. A great hiring process will protect you from most bad decisions. But typical hiring practices don't protect you from anything. So if you are worried about hiring decisions, it's likely that your hiring process is not protecting you from harm.
An HR team that leaves the hiring manager to their own devices to select resumes, conduct interviews and make hiring decisions is no different than turning out the lights and forcing the manager to walk a tightrope. The manager might make it to the other side, but the journey should make everyone mighty nervous. While with a great hiring process, the journey will be just as far, but the manager will be walking on a wide sidewalk on a sunny day. Yes, something bad still might happen, but the odds of success are far better.
So how do you broaden the paths and turn up the lights of your hiring journeys?
How you define business outcomes in your job description is the linchpin of your hiring process—it connects your business goals to your hiring process.
Here are 3 ways the typical hiring process leaves everyone walking a tightrope in the dark:
1) Top performers are driven by the need for success, but most job ads don't define success.
Top performers make for great employees—but they have their share of insecurities. For many top performers, the drive for achievement is hard-wired. But with that drive comes a peculiar sensitivity—top performers have to achieve, or they feel bad about themselves. Top performers are uniquely tortured if they don't understand what success looks like.
Many job ads are so bland that they scare top performers away. Without specific targets, without clear, unambiguous language explaining what success looks like, top performers can't picture themselves in the role, so they do not apply. Ambiguity only draws people who don't want to be held accountable.
Attracting people with the “right stuff” means eliminating vague, uncertain, and ambiguous language from your job ads, and being clear about what success looks like. Imagine yourself sitting in their performance review, a year from today. What would need to happen for you to consider it a terrific year? What specific measurable accomplishments would you have achieved together? Add this information to your job ad.
2) Top performers want to be important, but most job ads fail to mention it.
Top performers have a powerful need to do important work. They get charged up by it. Top performers need a line of sight between their results and a larger goal. Their work needs to be important to their team, the department, division, the boss, the CEO, the board of directors, or maybe an external audience. To feel important themselves, they need to do work that's important to others.
Everyone wants to feel important, but it's incredibly rare to see any mention of the importance of the work in most job ads. Job ads become more effective when you clarify why the work is important.
3) Top performers love challenge, but most job ads downplay the challenge.
People are drawn to challenge. For many people, the intrinsic reward in work is solving problems that baffle other people. People are drawn to a variety of challenges. Most people are not seeking the dull, easy, monotonous path to retirement.
When you hide or downplay the challenge in the job, you remove the element that many candidates find most interesting. And the same is true for goals. Top performers don't like jobs where performance is judged subjectively. They love metrics. They feel like winners when they beat a tough goal, but there is no thrill of victory from a goal that does not exist. Top performers want to be accountable. They want to work in challenging jobs for organizations that have clear goals.
Every time a dull job description is posted as a job advertisement, your hiring process is already headed down the wrong path. The language used in most job descriptions actually prevents candidates from understanding your job. This slows down your hiring process, wastes your time by interviewing the wrong people, and creates unmet expectations, which can lead to high employee turnover.
Most job advertising budgets are wasted on ineffective ads that don't reach the right people. Effective job postings attract the right people for the right reasons, so you spend your time interviewing people who will fit into your culture and stay long enough to deliver results.
Download “6 Steps to Writing Job Descriptions that Attract Great Candidates“ and learn how to align your hiring strategy with your business strategy.
And to benchmark the effectiveness of your hiring process, download the Results-Based Hiring® Scorecard.