Monday, July 22, 2013

Shakespearean Job Descriptions and Six Other Failures of Recruiting

I recently went through the job hunting process. It started in February and ended about a month ago with a job offer. (Yea for me!)  So, for five months, I sent resumes, connected with my network and interviewed...a lot!  During this adventure I got to really examine the recruiting practices of about 40-50 companies.  (I lost count - I added up 46 but I'm sure I'm forgetting some random head hunters that contacted me! Some of them were not very memorable.)

During this time, I took note as to what went well and what didn't go well, so that as an internal consultant at my new company, I can give some good recommendations.  Luckily, the new recruiter at my new job is of the reasons I accepted the job.

Much as receptionists are the first people your customers come in contact with, recruiters are usually the first person your potential talent comes in contact with and they will judge your company based upon their experience.

Listed below are only a few of the things that really irked me during the process and I'm not talking personal.  I was sad to see so many companies failing in the recruiting process.  If they were failing with me, how many other better people did they miss out on because they aren't paying close enough attention?

1. "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." 
Job Descriptions That Sound like Shakespeare
~I'd say about 80% of the job descriptions I read were really a bunch of crap.  Most all of the job descriptions were way too long and way too detailed.  Plus, whoever wrote them thinks that writing fancy long sentences with big words makes them sound sophisticated and smart!  Most times I couldn't understand what what written and I have a Masters degree!  Keep it simple.  There is no reason to write like Shakespeare.

In addition, there were a few times where the job description didn't match the interview at all!

The job I ended up accepting had one paragraph when I applied.  The summary was enough to know it was the job for me!  No more than six bullet points with a summary is needed.

Another great job description had the job broken down into percentages of time spent in certain areas.  Such as 30% heading up such and such, 20% on developing new programs, etc.  Really gave a great indication of priorities for the organization.

2. "Tell me a time when you had to perform brain surgery while baking brownies."
~Hiring managers who are WAAAAAY to picky.  I spoke to an external head hunter for one position after I he had recommended me for an interview.  After I met with the hiring manager, I called him back to say that I didn't think it was going to work out and I could tell he was at his wits end with the client.  I've seen the same job posted for the last five months and a different recruiter called me for the same position.  I told them good luck.

Listen, I know it's expensive to recruit and hire folks.  However, hiring managers are spending way too much of their energy on finding someone that has every tiny experience listed on the job description, instead of thinking to themselves: "Hey this person has a Masters so she's probably not stupid and can learn what I need her to know.  More important, would I want to have lunch every day with this person?"

Look for people who are teachable and that you like...a lot.

3. Water Tower Torture is More Enjoyable than Your On-Line Job Description Application
~Stop making professionals with an CV fill out an on-line job description that takes 45 MINUTES! I wasted so much time filling out very tedious on-line applications.  Since you aren't going to check work history until you've made an offer or about to make an offer - wait until after the interviewing process.

 There were several times I quit filling out applications for companies because the process was slower than watching paint dry.  I'd rather have my finger nails pulled out with pliers.  Companies who have these horrible processes loose out on more talent than just me.  I've spoken to several high-end great professionals who tell me that they never apply to companies if they have to do more than just upload a CV in the on-line application.

I didn't have to fill out an on-line application for the job I soon start.  So super happy about that.  Resume via email, interviews, job offer - tedious paperwork after.  YES!!!  Felt very professional.

Forget the water torture tower of Sing Sing...tedious on-line applications are much worse.  STOP!

4. "Hi, I'm Carol from X Company.  Thanks for applying to the position.  What is your expected / current salary?" 
~Yep, that's right!  Salary was the second thing talked about during the first phone interview!  If they gave me the range and asked if I was still interested in interviewing, then fine!  But asking my expectation right up front is just super unprofessional.  I found I lacked confidence in the company if they are asking right up front.  I feel like the organization doesn't have buy-in to the position and isn't willing to pay what it's worth.

Just pony up and give the salary range.  Companies who were open, honest and didn't play the salary game gave me a good indication that the organization might have good transparency and high trust internally.  Low-trust companies play games.  Have confidence that you work at a great company and are offering a great opportunity.  The right person is coming for that and not just for salary.

5.  "No key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. What is it?" Questions designed (or not) to confuse!
~ Technical interviewing is very important for some jobs.  You want to see how people think on their feet.  However, purposely trying to trick people into failing is just plain mean.

Let me tell you a little something about the brain.  When people feel threatened they are less likely to think to their fullest capacity.  Try to find the best of the candidate.  If you think all candidates are trying to "pull one over on you," then you probably don't trust.  I'm not going to a company where the hiring manager can't even trust me in an interview.

Lack of interview structure is another biggie.  If you are going to do behavioral, technical and personal all in the same interview, create a structure and let the candidate know the plan.  Bouncing around is unsophisticated and for kids on trampolines.

6.  "Ms. Mask? Here's your blind fold for the interview."
~I was blindsided in more than one interview.  One example, is a phone interview with an out-of-town company.  The internal recruiter sent me the name of the person I was going to talk with over the phone.  She failed to supply me with a phone number in case I had phone/technical issues, which I experienced.  Worse, however, was that when I finally was on the call, there where five other people in a conference room with a speaker phone.  Slam.  Not only was I stressed out with technical issues but then I had a whole room full of people for which I was not mentally prepared.

I was rarely prepped very well - that was only one example.

Prep your candidate.   You conducted the first interview, it went well and you've now gone out on the limb to recommend them to the hiring manager...set them up for success.  Otherwise, the hiring manager may think you don't know what you are doing and neither will the candidate.  They'll think this is indicative of the organizational culture.  Recruiters are not above the company culture - they are a representative of it.

7.   "Ms. Mask?  This way to the interrogation room."
~Wrong.  80% of the people I met with did a significantly below average job during the interview.  Most asked very bad questions.  Many made it feel like an interrogation. The best made it a conversation - much like you would do on the job. 

Talk to them about the opportunity, let them know about the culture.  Get the candidates to share experiences.  Encourage them to tell a story.

Be consistent.  Pick two or three question you might ask all candidate, have a little structure but make time for free form, much like you would do when working together.

Out of the 46 or so experiences, I can count on one hand the good recruiters, hiring managers and companies I would work for based on those experiences.  I've only given you seven of the many missteps I encountered.

As an OD person, I'm appalled at the mediocrity and wonder how much better those companies would be if they spent a little time reviewing their recruiting and hiring processes.  It's simple to figure out, too.  Ask the candidates, that you offer positions, to give feedback.  Hire a talent management consultant go through a "dummy" job, interview and hiring.  They'll be happy to give feedback for improvement.

The future of your organization relies on finding the right talent...make sure they are not turned off by your recruiting and hiring team.  AND for goodness sake, offer your candidate some water!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Routines, Success and Vacation

Ahhhhh, this feels good.  I haven't been able to write in a while and I am surprised at how much I missed it!

I never ever thought of myself as a writer.  Mostly, because I don't feel it's my strength.  However, I had been writing consistently with my Daily Affirmation for Mindful Leadership blog since March.  I was very consistent until I went on vacation, during which, I had no time to write.  It was spent with my family and doing many many activities and when we weren't doing something we were visiting.

Now don't get me wrong, vacation is great and necessary for many reasons.  In our family, travel is very essential.  It is educational and time together without the pull of everyday chores.  However, vacation gets you out of routine and can take you away from things that are important.  Vacation is good for the brain.  Getting out of routine can give you insight and a fresh perspective on your life, work and family success.  It's like how an artist will step back from their work to see how it is coming together.

It usually takes time for me to get back into routine.  I've been home since Wednesday and I've only been able to sit down and write for the first time today...Friday.  I found that I even got a little stressed about it.  I find that funny.  Like I said, I never found myself to be a writer, nor did I think of myself as habitual, but, I think I did go through some withdrawal.  I'm finding that as an extrovert, downtime to think is becoming more important for me to communicate better.

The good thing about that is I'm motivated so, perhaps my usual long windup to get back into the groove of things will be shorter than in the past.   The lesson here is that I need to be better prepared for vacation by finding time to pre-write for blog posts and make sure that I carve out time for writing while on vacation.  Lessons for everyone is to figure out what routines you might miss or need and incorporate them into your vacations!  Happy Summer.