I recently had a conversation about hiring with a very talented individual who is also a Vice President of Sales and Marketing at a medium-sized company. We marveled at how self-righteous and downright inconsiderate, to be frank, companies have become with their hiring practices and treatment of even highly qualified candidates.
Organizations have become accustomed to sending headhunters on wild goose chases after candidates that often don’t really exist especially for the amount of pay they’re offering. They allow months of backlog in work to accumulate and lose market share while they wait for that “perfect” person to arrive and be hired. A perfect person that may never come.
Headhunting is often similar to matching couples for marriage. There’s usually one side of the pair you’re trying to bring together that’s pickier than the other and they come to you with a laundry list of must-haves that are almost impossible to satisfy. Have you ever tried helping a friend find a mate? They may have given you their wish list which was something like this: Must be 5’11”, independently wealthy, in shape, educated, with no kids or previous spouse, a homeowner, love to travel…
Meanwhile, you’re looking at your friend and you may be too kind to say it, but you think, ‘But you’re 20 lbs overweight and have 4 kids, are always late on your rent, and have never left Georgia.’
A parallel situation can play out when a company tells you they have an opening they want you to help fill. And that side of the pair with the laundry list is often the company. As much as we like to satisfy our clients we have to help them understand what they’re really going to get, and in a timely enough fashion so they don’t end up with a gap in their organization and ultimately productivity for 6 months and many times, for longer.
First of all, every company, no matter how great they are has its minuses along with its pluses. They need to realize they are not any more perfect than the people they’re interviewing or “The One” they hope to find. Hiring entities must stop viewing job applicants as a commodity and recognize that they are interviewing humans, yes, people whose time and effort should be respected even if they’re not what you’re looking for. And while being selective is a must there is a difference between that and being unreasonable.
To do this, companies can follow the Rules of 3-5:
- Interview 3-5 qualified people. Any more than that is excessive.
- Don’t make anyone wait for feedback without some kind of update for more than 3-5 days. Any more than that is excessive.
- As long as you have qualified applicants, don’t let critical positions remain open for more than 3-5 months. If you don’t have immediate access to qualified talent find alternatives to fill your needs ASAP, because even this is more than excessive.
Back to the conversation that I had with the executive who regularly hires and manages staff, he said something to me about hiring that really stuck out. He said: “I hire people as quickly as I can. I’d rather have someone that is 80% of what I want than nothing at all.”
And how right that is. How many times have we thought we’ve found the perfect person because they put on a good act, or knew how to interview, or captivated us when we first met? Not much time passed after we made an agreement with them before we realized that they actually had flaws, they were not perfect after all, and just like everything else in life, collaborating successfully with them would take some effort; some work?
As a recruiter, I love the companies I support, I really do. Many are amazing and have a thoroughly professional approach. Others may just want to avoid making a “bad” hire. But we have to remember that in all we do, people are what matter the most.
Without one another, we can do a little, but with the right amount of respect and understanding, so much more can be accomplished.