Hiring for the Best Fit
By Curtis L. Odom, Ed.D., Principal and Managing Partner, Prescient Training Strategists, LLC
Recruiters are on the front lines of the workforce, trying to bring talent into organizations; there are many qualified people out there from a credential standpoint. Fit is where the true challenge lies. Will this person fit our organization? There are many meanings to that. Does the person look and feel to others like he or she belongs here?
The answers to those questions play a huge role in the talent acquisition success. Unfortunately, organizations often see recruiting and staffing as an easy thing, as a lower-level skill. On the contrary, it is probably one of the hardest things under the umbrella of talent management to find the right match of talent to the organization and the hiring manager who needs that talent.
Why Does It Take So Long?
Organizations sometimes shy away from being definitive about the type of person they want, typically because they don’t want to be viewed as being biased in some way. Personally, I think this is erring too far on the side of political correctness. As a culture and a society, we’ve carried it too far.
One of the biggest things that frustrates hiring managers is that recruiters take too long to get the talent the company needs. In reality, the business doesn’t understand what the recruiter is doing.
When the hiring manager says, “I need a human factors engineer. I want them to have 10 to 12 years worth of experience. I want them to have worked for one of the big five consulting firms. I want this person to be in the local area, because I’m not paying for relocation.”
All of these unique factors not only shrink the candidate pool and restrict the options of what the recruiter has to work with, but also increase time to hire.
I am sticking up for recruiters here and acknowledging that this is what they are faced with daily. Once the hiring manager says, “Do you have everything you need? You’re going to get me this person. Great. Thanks. Bye,” the clock starts for the business leader right then and there.
In reality, the recruiter takes this information and has to create the job requirement if it doesn’t exist. That might take two or three days to write it, review it, post it, and start to field resume submissions from applicants. It might be three weeks or a month before the recruiter even starts to get candidates in for interviews from when the posting went up based on conversations with the hiring leader.
The hiring leader is ticked off. “It’s been two months. Where is this person I need?” Without constant contact from the recruiter back to the hiring leader, the hiring manager doesn’t know the particulars of the situation, or what goes on behind the curtain. They think, “Next time I’ll hire an outside agency, so I can get this done in less time!”
Unfortunately, that’s what happens to internal recruiters. They are out there with a flashlight in the middle of the daytime trying to find someone’s shadow. They’ve been given this exacting description of what skills they need to find, but they have not had time to get a headstart on trying to find that person. And they get very little respect or thanks when they do find the needles in the haystack.
No More Talent Firefighting
I think we’re coming to a point where things are going to stabilize, because nothing lasts forever—even the downturns, even the bad times. We’re going to reach a point of stability. And when that happens, you will find many organizations that are going to start to think differently. They’re not going to ever want to return to talent firefighting, and they’re going to turn to thinking, “We never want to go through that again. We want to at least be able to mitigate our exposure to the whims and vagaries of the markets and economics.” The only way to do that is to literally have as lean and flexible an organization as possible. That means do more with less. To do more with less, you have to have top talent and processes to enable that talent to do their jobs while pioneering a new paradigm.
You can’t do more with less if the people you have do not have the capability to pull it off. The best way to find those people is to grow them. You can’t hire them; because if you hire them, that means you had to go out and poach them, which costs money and is not a long-term solution to a recurring problem.
Corporations and organizations over a 20-year period have had to resign themselves to hire and replace, hire and replace. If you don’t have talent management that gives Gen Xers comfort enough about their career with your organization, they will go elsewhere, and you will consistently hire and replace, hire and replace. A properly structured talent management strategy such as a “talent farming” strategy can dramatically cut the cost of that impact and can guarantee your company, perhaps, a seven-figure savings in recruiting and staffing agency costs over the long run.
Companies and organizations now must ask themselves some serious questions:
- Do we want to continue to muddle along with this talent management thing and have things remain the same?
- Do we want the Board of Directors to continue to kick us to get a plan in place?
- Do we want to put the company into the position where the next time there’s an economic downturn—which there will be—we’re losing market share and can’t compete?
- Do we want to invest in “talent farming” now so we can have the best talent in-house to deal with whatever organizational challenges come next?”
If that answer to the last question is no, then the organization will just stay the same: Admitting it is not willing to address the hard questions. Admitting it is not willing to step into the unknown and do things differently. Admitting that this would require people who are self-driven, have self-confidence, and are willing to get out there and lead.
Don’t continue down the path of trying to figure out what accommodates your need to feel comfortable, but is in opposition to the desire to get a result. Because, sometimes, you have to get uncomfortable to get the result you want. You have to go through a period when it’s going to be downright ugly as you shake things up, break things down, and build them back up stronger. A sustainable, proactive approach to talent management is the organization’s displayed willingness to make lasting cultural change.
Talent management is about sourcing candidates for knowledge, skills, and abilities to accomplish the organization of today’s goals. It stresses the importance of hiring based on the right fit for the individual and the organization.
Being stuck in the middle between having employees who are able to do the job and in a place where they can do the job well is somewhere many organizations often find themselves. However, many are learning to recognize the warning signs, and now know how important it is to get it right when hiring for the best fit.
Dr. Curtis L. Odom is principal and managing partner of Prescient Training Strategists, LLC, a consulting firm focusing on integrated talent management. Author of “Stuck in the Middle: A Generation X View of Talent Management,” Dr. Odom has more than 15 years of experience in talent development, performance consulting, training, and instructional design as a practitioner, researcher, author, and speaker. Dr. Odom earned his doctorate of education from Pepperdine University and has been industry certified as both a Human Capital Strategist and Strategic Workforce Planner from the Human Capital Institute. Formerly serving in the United States Navy, he is currently a member of the International Society for Performance Improvement, the American Society for Training and Development, and American Mensa. For more information, visit www.stuckinthemiddle.me.