Most Recruiting Begins in the Wrong Place

(From LinkedIn Pulse by Carl Bradford)

Have you ever felt like you weren’t seeing enough top Business Value Professionals for your jobs? (These are folks who are sales and consulting practitioners focused on quantifying, articulating and delivering maximum business outcomes from technology investments). If so, you’ll appreciate Sue’s story.

I asked Sue, the Director of Western Regional Sales to describe her recruiting requirements for a Big Data Analytics Software Sales Specialist role she wanted to fill immediately. Here’s a summary of what she said and my response explaining that she was starting her candidate search from the wrong place.

As we began our discussion, she brought up the company job description on her computer. It consisted of 37 bullet points of information. The posting was divided into three large sections; Job Duties, Education and Experience and Knowledge and Skill Required.

She began by saying, “I’m not seeing top candidates and I understand there is a tight job market for this skill set, but am really confused as to why we aren’t being more successful. We have a good company reputation and our brand is well known, but that just doesn’t seem to be doing us much good.”

She continued by describing her recruiting requirements this way, “I need someone who has a Bachelor’s degree and 5 to 8 years of experience selling complex software solutions.” Then she continued to talk in some detail about the experience background and skills she was looking for in this person. Her mostly monologue continued for nearly five minutes as she mentioned some of the 37 bullet points that described the person she wanted to hire. I listened carefully and took a few notes.

When finished she asked, “Think you can find me a top candidate like that?” To which I replied, “Sue, I’ve conducted a number of successful searches for software sales roles like this and much more senior as well.”

What I said next seemed to shock Sue. I said, “Sue I believe I understand why you’re having difficulty finding a top sales professional for this role. For one thing, I believe that you’re starting your search process from the wrong place.”

I could tell my response caught her completely off-guard by the look on her face as she said, “What do you mean, the wrong place?”

I put on my most re-assuring smile and replied, “For starters, I see a HUGE problem related to your job posting itself, but that’s not where we should start. We’ll get to the job posting later, but first let me tell you where I’ve discovered is the correct place to begin your search for top talent.”

Starting Your Search for Top Candidates in the Right Place

I continued, “Sue what you have described in your recruiting specification is a person, not your job. The best place to start is to first define specific success objectives for your job. When you do so, you’ll get the correct person profile by default, so let’s put your person description in the parking lot for a few minutes.”

“I’d like to help you develop a performance-based job description that details the top objectives for this job by defining what the person you hire must accomplish in order to be successful.”

“Using ‘skill infested’ person-centered job descriptions are an invitation to mediocre hiring process. It’s not the SKILLS YOU HAVE but WHAT YOU DO WITH THOSE SKILLS that matter most.”

Sue then looked a bit puzzled and said, “I’ve always started by defining the person I want to hire. How do you start from where you’re recommending?”

“Sue, let’s set up a time to work through this concept. In the meantime, I’d like for you to be thinking about this question. After the first 6 to 18 months, what would the person you hire have done that would cause you say that you made a great hire? In other words, what would this person have accomplished that would cause you to make that statement?”

“For now, don’t think about a person, think only about your job. Let’s clearly define what on-the-job-success looks like as our starting place. This will clearly set the expectations for the candidates and will allow everyone on the hiring team to be laser focused on assessing the candidate’s ability to deliver success for your specific job. We’ll create our performance objectives using SMARTe statements that will allow us to clearly measure success BEFORE the hire as well as after the person comes on board.”

“This approach eliminates a lot of interview assessment biases that could prevent hiring a really top person as well.”

Sue seemed intrigued to learn more. After we set up our follow-up meeting and I was leaving she said, “This isn’t the only type of job that I hire for. Some are quite different and some are at a higher level and some lower. Will this work for all of my jobs?”

“Yes Sue, it will. I’ve constructed performance-based job descriptions for every level in the organizational structure across many, many industries. And in case you’re wondering about the legal implications of using this approach, the process has also been reviewed by one of the top labor attorney’s in one of the largest legal firms in the US. Their conclusion was that a performance-based recruiting approach is far better and more easily defended for EEOC reasons when compared to the more traditional approach. I’ll send you their white paper that clearly speaks to your question if you like.”

Just as I was walking out her office door she said, “I have one final question, then I’ll let you leave…I promise.” Her final question for that meeting was, “I assume using this performance-based approach will have a profound and positive impact on how we structure our value proposition for this job as well as how we interview and assess our candidates. Is that correct?”

To which I replied, “Absolutely. Profound is a really good way to describe the outcome. That’s a key part of what I want to discuss with you in our next meeting. And, remember I mentioned issues with your job posts a moment ago so let’s not forget to also include some discussion about your job posts as well.”

Take Action on this Information Today

The above story is based on my extensive work with Lou Adler’s Performance-based Hiring methodology. I’ve been a part of Lou’s team for nearly 20 years. During that time, I’ve worked with Adler client recruiting teams across multiple market segments certifying these teams in Performance-based Hiring. I’m now pleased to be able to offer a tailored version of Performance-based Hiring specifically for the Business Value Community of practitioners.

I’d like the opportunity to prove how this strategic change can be a game changer for you. There are a number of ways for us to accomplish that, including engaging us to conduct a search for one of your job vacancies, as well as training you and your team on the full scope of value-based recruiting. I’ve already done this for hundreds of hiring teams. Give me a call today!

Carl Bradford | Vice President Recruiting
The Value Selling & Realization Council | The Value Academy
mobile:  817-301-2244 | office:  817-993-9335

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