How Not To Hire Someone

A while back, Fast Company published Keith Hammonds’ Why We Hate HR. Like myself, I’m sure you have some remarkable ‘Everything was going great, then HR…’ stories. Whether it’s ridiculous, time-wasting hoops (asking candidates to complete an application even though you have their resume) or just not doing a simple Google search on a candidate (Microsoft Recruits Eric S. Raymond). Both of these examples betray a dysfunctional disconnection between HR and the rest of the organization.

This excerpt from the letter ESR posted exemplifies HR arrogance (emphasis mine):

“Your name and contact info was brought to my attention as someone who could potentially be a contributor at Microsoft. I would love an opportunity to speak with you in detail about your interest in a career at Microsoft, along with your experience, background and qualifications.”

If this was a cover letter, the candidate wouldn’t have a chance. A complete boilerplate message without any thought or tangible specifics as to why it was sent. Yet, not only is the recruiter unfamiliar with candidate’s qualifications and background (otherwise this letter would not have been sent), they take for granted that the candidate wants to work at Microsoft. Plus, it’s exactly opposite how Google is recruiting.

With company benefits continually cut, employees having to supplement employer-based health insurance, and staff directories as fluid as football rosters, this assumption can’t be made.

Until organizations can again provide the stability and security they once promised, it’s a seller’s market or a Free Agent Nation as Dan Pink calls it.

Here’s an example of a low-risk, mutually-respectful hiring process

  1. Ask existing employees who they’d like to work with
  2. Do Google search for those people, make sure they have a presence online. Read their blog’s archives.
  3. If it looks good, bring these people in for a couple of smaller contract projects or invest an equivalent amount of time getting to know them.
  4. If it’s still looking good, understand how you as an employer can improve their situation. Sometimes this is money, sometimes it’s about everything else in the compensation package.
  5. At this point, you’ll both know if it’ll work or not.

A few years back, the company I worked for described their hiring process, similar to this, as “deliberate.” That description stuck with me. It was one also of the best places I’ve worked for.

This is what Seth Godin means when he talks about dating your prospects. Give the audio from Seth’s London Marketing Soiree a listen for more. Thanks Hugh

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