I think there are a lot of things that are straight up broken with most companies. Probably No. 1 on any list should be the lip service/BS that we let into our hiring and recruiting processes.

Executives yelp, bellow, and screech from the rooftops about “the war for talent.” They need “A-Players.” And then, where do they root the process? Human Resources. Let’s do a little logic puzzle, LSAT style.

Most executives who run companies view HR as compliance, or, in reality, the “cover your ass” department. So here’s what happens: we claim people are important. We want the best people. And yet, we put recruitment methods in HR, where most execs ignore them.

See how this is a problem?

The other problem is this: A lot of people at the top of companies — “the key stakeholders,” if you will — tend to value these three Ps around the business:

  • Product;
  • Process;
  • Pricing.

But, here’s a fourth P: people.

Most stakeholders — ahem, “senior decision-makers” — do not care about people. They view them as interchangeable. Train someone? Pfft. What if they leave for a competitor?

Look, I realize employee loyalty is mostly dead. But if you hire someone, they will probably work with you for 18 months or more. In those 18 months, you are handing them some money that you’d probably rather keep for yourself. So let’s figure out a way to improve these recruitment methods, eh?

Recruitment methods: 2017 advice from GE

GE, however, is a successful, well-known company. Stands to reason their executives know a few things more than the average Sam or Joe walking among us knows, so that’s why this article — What This GE Exec Is Hiring For In 2017 (And Why)” — was interesting.

I won’t leave you in suspense. This executive in question built an entire plant and personnel in Cincinnati, and here’s what he hires around:

  • Can crunch/discuss data;
  • Humility;
  • Willingness to experiment;
  • Proof of promise, or “unconventionality.”

Whew. There’s a lot to discuss here. Let’s go one-for-one quickly.

Recruitment methods: Discussing data

So many less-than-stellar managers do this:

  • Tell everyone in a meeting, “We compete on data now!”
  • Subsequently change nothing about process or responsibility.
  • Everyone does exactly what they were doing before.

This doesn’t work. Data is important, although yes, many companies don’t know exactly how to get the right data or how to make money from it. That will evolve with time. (Hopefully.) But if you think you’re competing on data, you need to hire people who “get” it — or who are willing to learn about it.

Seems pretty simple, right? Most people miss this step about data entirely.

Recruitment methods: Humility

I’ll keep this section short. If you promote assholes and hire assholes, you create a culture of assholes.

That’s not fun.

Recruitment methods: Willingness to experiment

I watched a documentary on FDR a few weeks ago. One of the good lines in there? He said to people all the time,

Doesn’t matter if the new stuff you’re doing is failing — it matters that you’re trying new stuff.”

In 2017, that line is more true than ever. Who the hell knows what augmented reality is or how it benefits a B2B widgets company? 87,391 “thought leaders” just raised their hands, but the answer is this: no one knows.

You gotta experiment. You gotta fail.

While it’s hard to screen for “willingness to experiment” in interviews, this needs to be one of your recruitment methods.

Recruitment methods: Unconventionality

Here’s a solid quote from the article linked above:

For example, one Cincinnati team member is currently part of the human-resources leadership program but started out in finance and audit. Despite an unconventional background, we helped this person transition to HR because of their strengths and interest in managing human capital and recruiting new talent. Another great example: an electrical engineer who started out building engines in our aviation business moved onto project management after showing a knack for understanding the larger supply chain.

And now we come to the first problem with most recruitment methods.

The inherent issue with recruitment methods

We recruit around silos or functional expertise. We let aimless middle managers bellow about headcount, then allow them to toss HR under a freight train when the hire doesn’t work out.

Meanwhile, someone meows about a “skills gap.” It’s all often completely meaningless politics designed to make yourself look good and someone else look bad.

Because of this low-priority, silo-based hiring, this quote above is nearly impossible in most places. Someone could clearly be a great project manager, but if they came in via email marketing or Ops, most of the time that’s where they gotta stay.

Recruitment methods aren’t rooted in potential growth — for the person or the company. They are rooted in silos and salary bands. How many times have you seen a job description that says where the job could evolve to in five years? Let me answer that for you: never. You have never seen a job description like that, because largely they do not exist.

In short, recruitment methods are usually static path progressions or bullet point skill needs. Problem is: “static” doesn’t work in a “dynamic” business world. Right?

How could we improve recruitment methods?

Let me toss out a few ideas off the top of my dome:

  • Move it out of HR: It needs to reside in a place that executives care about.
  • Create financial metrics related to bad hires and turnover: If execs see themselves getting hit in the wallet/bonus, they will care more.
  • Automate it less: Recruiting should be a human process, but somehow we’ve moved away from that.
  • Try to measure curiosity: Job descriptions literally change by the week at some companies. You need curious people to navigate through that.
  • Get hiring managers to create 1-pagers: Rather than a series of no-context meetings, force hiring managers to write a high-context 1-pager on what they need for the role — and why they need it. Financial metrics must be included.
  • Change the interview questions: Most interview questions are a total farce and do nothing to teach you about the candidate. Ask better questions. Here’s one example.
  • Focus on a better job role and definition: I can’t even on this topic, so read this.
  • Utilize People Analytics: In short, use data to make recruitment methods better. It’s possible!

Is there anything else you’d add here to improve recruitment methods?

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]