There are few business ideas that persist across companies and industries, but in nearly all contexts, having the right people is important to a business and finding and attracting those right people is not easy.  While there are many ways to design an effective talent acquisition program, there are three issues that companies commonly create for themselves that reduce the impact of their recruiting programs.

Many companies struggle with these issues in large part because they devote too much focus towards finding the best candidate from the pool of candidates rather than finding a candidate that fits their needs.  Avoiding these recruiting performance traps often begins with recognizing that good enough is still good enough.

1. Overlooking the importance of the candidate experience

While it should be obvious to employers that a candidate will be unlikely to join a company that makes the recruiting process frustrating or painful, companies regularly disenchant quality candidate with poor communication, opaque processes, disengaged employees, unmet expectations and/or a general failure to make the candidate feel welcomed and wanted during the recruiting process.

Top candidates are aware that talented people are a scare commodity and a source of competitive advantage.  They know that while they do not hold all the power during the recruiting process, they hold some power and can wield it by walking away.  Therefore, they do (and should) expect to feel respected, be treated fairly and receive a compelling set of reasons to join the company beyond just needing a job.

By no longer waiting to “sell” the offer until determining which candidate(s) will receive an offer companies can create a positive experience for all candidates.  This establishes a positive market reputation that excites candidates about opportunities and delivers more options to hire for the employer as fewer candidate drop out of the process or decline offers.

2. Under-designing the assessment process

Investing heavily in accessing candidates often means either casting a wide net through online job boards and then rapidly screening candidates with advanced applicant tracking systems or investing large sums of money in search firms to identify a more targeted collection of candidates.  While either scenario has a variety of possible upsides, neither addresses the need for later interview stages to drive to a hiring decision.

Many companies rely too heavily on the expertise of their leadership to qualify and select candidates sometimes without any training to align evaluation expectations across leaders and/or close gaps in individual interviewing skills.  Even with training programs, the assessment process must be rigorously designed else narcissistic biases can degrade the quality of hiring decisions and key qualifications can go unintentionally untested while other qualifications get retested an unnecessarily high number of times.  Final decisions often rely heavily on the intuition of senior leaders or group think rather than an objective pre-defined combination of all available data unless constrained by a rigorous process.

Paying additional attention to the data collected during the recruiting process and connecting those data points consciously and intentionally with the job qualifications empowers companies to more predictably and thoroughly assess candidates without adding steps or costs to the process.

3. Focusing on the perfect candidate

It is tempting for companies to orient their talent acquisition programs to pursue their ideal candidate.  While it may be counter-intuitive to suggest that seeking a sub-optimal candidate is the optimal way to design a program, but the flexibility hire a candidate who is not perfect at the time of hiring, but joins with a plan to quickly develop inside the company to meet the entire needs of the role saves the company time and/or money often without any meaningful degradation in performance after an initial ramp-up period.

With the complexity of modern roles and the uniqueness in how even close competitors define different roles within an organization, finding a candidate who exactly matches the full target profile can be time consuming due to the rarity of those perfect fit individuals or costly both in terms of process costs and the compensation premium a scarce candidate may command.  Furthermore, companies that invest significantly in the development of new employees often access the upside of improved retention because employees appreciate the commitment of the company to their success.

Ultimately, progress towards avoiding or addressing each of these issues can be made without significant cost.  Material improvements can be achieved through simple process and mindset changes without having to overhaul the existing talent acquisition program or investing in new technology.

Additional Reading Suggestion

White Paper: Chasing the Perfect Candidate Assessment

White Paper: Finding Success Without Unicorns

Blog: How Narcissistic Hiring Can Cripple a Business