What is the most important process in your company? Is it accounting, sales, operations or r&d? Every company has a number of different processes allowing them to produce and deliver goods and services. All processes have to be properly designed and executed to achieve the desired outcome. If the people who are responsible for operating the process are not qualified/ trained/ skilled/ motivated then the outcome will not be as required. Hiring is an essential business process but not always recognised as such. Could the hiring process be the most important one?
I recently came across a recruitment firm that had posted a traditional job description with typical requirements / filters such as
The list went on and could have been applied to any number of different jobs. Right at the end of the posting was listed the number of people who had already applied, a staggering 465. The position had been advertised for 3 days. I was curious as to whether this was a good process and asked someone I knew who would have met the criteria to apply for the position. They did so at 7pm and by 8:15am the following morning received a standard email stating that due to a large number of applications and the specific requirements they had been unsuccessful.
If we look at the numbers involved we can see if this is a good or bad process. With 465 applications and assuming a very generous 5 minutes to look at resumes (a resume submission was a requirement, plus we need to keep in mind that a minimum of 5 to 10 years were required to be qualified) the person reviewing it would have spent 38.75 hours on the task. Clearly that did not happen, as the posting was only 3 days old. So lets go for a dramatic reduction and one that is closer to reality and assume they spent 1 minute that would mean 7.75 hours of continuous work and again we see that this is unlikely.
The job search site The Ladders.com, released research that recruiters only spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s résumé before deciding whether he or she is a fit for a job. If we used this 6.25 seconds we would come up with a 3.88 hours. If there was a Linkedin profile, the review may have been as little as one tenth of a second as people with a high volume of applications look at the candidate’s photo before moving on.
This was a senior role with base salary in the range £60k to £80K plus commission. Now we have to ask what type of person would apply for a role that 465 people already have applied for? Maybe the first 100 thought they were not being unrealistic in their chances but surely the 400th or 500th person to apply must surely be desperate. The company was not a well-known brand; in fact it had only been operational for 2 ½ years. So why did so many people apply?
The job description is at the root of this badly designed hiring process. This type of traditional job description does not produce the best performers and I have never come across a firm whose stated intention was to hire anything other than top performers. Even if a top performer were to apply one time with a process like this and get an immediate rejection it is unlikely they would do so again. There is a better way to reduce the number of unqualified candidates and to attract the best performers and it is simply to list the key objectives of the role.
The number of years of experience and other must have criteria are a barrier to hiring the best performers. We have all met and worked with people who were light on the number of years experience but were still capable of doing the work. If this firm had stated what measureable, tangible results they expected within the first 12 months this would give all candidates a much clearer idea of what constitutes on the job success. All roles like this can be broken down to 5 to 8 key objectives. This will typically consist of a major objective, a sub objective, problems to be solved, and technical skills in action and will take the form of SMART (specific, measureable, action based, results oriented and time based) objectives.
If candidates were asked to submit examples of where they had achieved comparable results, those who had not would be unlikely to do so. Top performers would be more likely to apply as they can clearly see if the role is one that will be challenging. This would result in less applications but more time available to be spent on those who had provided real examples of where they had accomplished comparable results. Candidates should be hired to deliver results and not because they have X number of years of experience. This would be a far better way to improve the first part of the process.
Thomas De Brun is Founder of Tower Executive Search. Combining practical business experience with solution oriented psychotherapy and over two decades of international executive search consulting.
Follow on @thomasdebrun
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