HR and Recruiting Professionals: Time to Pull Your Head Out

ostrich in sandIt’s not exactly breaking news that the general workforce population can’t seem to get enough of HR/recruiting bashing. This phenomenon is akin to TMZ stalking celebrity hangouts waiting for a scandal to erupt.

At any given time, in any given business publication, an abundance of gripes and rants levied at HR/recruiting professionals accompany most articles. Unfortunately in many instances those venting sessions are quite justified.

It’s as if everyone is collectively yelling: “Hey, HR people, it’s time to pull your head out!”

HR & Recruiting: Oblivious to Glaring Gaps

I was originally planning to write an entire article about Jibe’s recently released 2014 Talent Acquisition Survey. The 36-page report explored the gap between what job seekers want to happen during the job search process and how (even if/when aware of its own shortcomings) HR/recruiting doesn’t seem to be responsive to those expectations.

The report’s findings illustrated several examples of HR’s/recruiting’s apparent state of obliviousness to drive that message that home.

Here are a few parts that made my brain hurt. 

1344589013889_5857849HR professionals agree that their current application processes are coming up short:

  • Most feel that it’s extremely important for candidates to feel their application process is clear (69%), user-friendly(64%), and easy (56%).
  • Additionally, close to half acknowledge that most of the people who apply to jobs at their company expect transparency about the process (45%) and follow up often about the status of their applications(42%).
  • Yet, many HR professionals admit that if they were applying for a job at their company today, it’s not very likely that they could describe the experience as easy (57%), user-friendly(54%) or clear (52%).

Another segment continued to highlight how HR/recruiting is in fact aware of some obvious issues, but “struggles” with these “challenges.”


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HR professionals know that the application process is crucial to attracting top talent, but are still struggling to improve in that area.

  • More than half (54%) agree that candidate experience is important to their hiring practices.
  • Forty-five percent are committed to enhancing the experience.
  • Almost four in ten (36%) report that improving the candidate experience is one of their greatest challenges.

As you might imagine, there was enough similar material there to fill an entire HR for Dummies book.

But the main thoughts that kept running through my head were…

WHY: Why are these known “problems” not being addressed?

WHO: Who comprises the other percentages of HR/recruiting practitioners that either aren’t bothered by these blatant credibility killers or just aren’t concerned when surveyed about these matters? (have another look at the stats above to see if you also wonder: what about the rest of the profession?)

HOW: How are there still so many people working in HR/recruiting who simply lack any type of clue about how to perform the basic functions of HR/recruiting?

WHEN: When will we stop hearing and reading about the same complaints that really can be fixed with a dose of common sense combined with basic competence?

Beyond the content of this report, I’ve encountered several other incidents of frown inducing HR/recruiting behavior.

Here’s what I mean…

head-up-assTime to Pull Your HR Head Out: Story #1

On a recruiting-focused Facebook page, a third-party recruiter inquired about OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) from an agency standpoint. That wasn’t the problem!

But what followed as the context for the inquiry was the statement:

The HR Manager that asked if we were compliant didn’t know what it was. He just knew it was on the checklist he had to ask for.”

Why is someone with the title HR Manager unaware of OFCCP?

I don’t mean to imply every human resources manager should be fully versed enough to recite any given employment-related law. But please, at least familiarize yourself with pertinent industry acronyms and legislation – especially if/when requesting “compliance” from a third-party vendor.

Time to Pull Your HR Head Out: Story #2

There have been countless times that I’ve participated in Twitter chats with other industry professionals. It never fails that someone along the way (mid-chat) will ask “what does ___ (word, term, phrase) mean?” Or, “what does ____ (acronym) stand for?”

These aren’t obscure references or newly invented buzzwords. These are standard business abbreviations used in the context of the chat subject-matter such as: ATS, CRM, ERP, EAP, FMLA, VMS, UI, ADA, ACA, and so on.

Now, I understand that many chats are structured for shared learning and collaboration, but is it really too much to ask for participants to be conversant in the language of the topic?

Even if tweets include “foreign” terms to certain group members, there is this newfangled internet thingy called a search engine where information about every possible topic is available within a few keystrokes.

Time to Pull Your HR Head Out: Story #3

li spamTwice in one week, two different recruiters from the same agency emailed a prospective candidate a message about two different jobs containing the following:

“I am emailing you in case you think you would be a great fit for the position listed below. Please check out the link and apply if you are interested in hearing more about the job.”

So, first let me state that I have no objection to recruiters emailing (or inMailing) job notifications. Where this type of messages loses me is that it puts the burden on the “potential” job seeker to take action (as in applying for the job) before even having a chance to verbally explore (with the recruiter) whether there is “potential” mutual interest.

Approaching prospects this way looks haphazard, lazy and unfocused. The two positions were well below the prospect’s career level, but he would have been willing to have a conversation with those recruiters if that option was offered. Instead, he was left with a matching set of craptastic recruiter spam destined for the delete button.

And, another thing…

Unless you’ve been hibernating in a remote wifi-less village, you probably noticed a trend in “thought-leader” articles spouting various opinions about the need to abolish, obliterate or otherwise render HR departments extinct. That’s all well and good in theory.

What these assorted authors seem to conveniently leave out is an alternative for accomplishing the scope of work that currently falls under the HR/recruiting umbrella. Simply brushing away the so-called non-strategic workload to some mysterious, unexplained, undefined and unnamed “outsourcing” solution is all they suggest.

One recent example of these “get rid of HR” proposals listed several futuristic job titles to allegedly replace the traditional roles we see today. Commenters on the article seemed to embrace the idea of hipster cool kids such as data scientists, game developers, social media managers and content strategists swooping in to rescue businesses from those dreary and outdated categories of talent attraction, engagement, development and retention.

It’s as if all we have to imagine is a poof of fairy dust making all of the typical employee relations, performance management and day-to-day people interactions vanish to make room for some fantastic HR-free world. Granted, after REPEATEDLY seeing all of the above (pull your head out) problems, that fantasy world does sound tempting!

If the genie appeared to grant you three wishes to fix HR/recruiting what would you pick?

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About the Author: Leveraging her unique perspective as a progressive thinker with a well-rounded background from diverse corporate settings, Kelly Blokdijk advises members of the business community on targeted human resource, recruiting and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.

Kelly is an active HR and recruiting industry blogger and regular contributor on RecruitingBlogs.com. She also candidly shares opinions, observations and ideas as a member of RecruitingBlogs’ Editorial Advisory Board.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @TalentTalks or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Kelly Blokdijk


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