7 of the worst problems with recruitment

What is Wrong with Recruitment?

The selection and recruitment process used by nearly all medium and large sized organisations is broken, here are seven reasons why:

  1. Job Openings

When a position is coming open very often HR finds the Requirements section of the Job Description and without questioning who wrote them, whether they are up to date or if they are even relevant for the opening, uses these Requirements to open the search for candidates.  Often the Requirements include irrelevant qualification because managers want more highly qualified people on their teams to push their own status up.

Sometimes HR has defined every job in the organisation and assigned Essential Requirements to it which cannot be changed. Basically, things are done backwards – instead of focussing on searching for smart, capable people to do the work the focus is on finding people who match a list of bullet-points.

  1. Job Ads

Job ads are written in an unfriendly and dull language that tells jobseekers “Don’t waste our time unless you have every qualification listed here.” HR people generally know little or nothing about marketing and don’t understand that these job ads they post give a very clear impression of what is going on inside the company. In a lot of ways job ads reflect the company culture more than anything that the marketing department produces.

Job ads often contain things which are insulting, things that should never be written like the phrase ‘Only successful applicants will be notified’. Just think about the message this sends about how the organisation cares about people! All jobs ads should be created by the marketing department with a clear instruction to promote the organisation’s culture.

  1. Application forms

Customers usually don’t complete long application forms but asking job applicants to do this is accepted as normal. As forms have moved online so they have got longer and longer and include ‘personal statements’ and other features which can take hours to complete. Why do companies do this? What message does it send? Why are jobseekers expected to take tests, complete questionnaires and tolerate delays and lack of communication that send the message: “You’re just another job-seeker, so just wait quietly.”

  1. Interviews

The interview process is broken. Having a conversation is the best way to get to know someone, we just know that because we are human beings. In a flowing conversation, we will see how a person’s mind works, but many interviewers keep such a tight grip on their interview script they fail to get to know the applicant at all and fail to make any kind of accurate assessment.

The most important skills that an interviewer needs are excellent conversational skills but how many do? A skilled interviewer leads a conversation along a path and above all else listens and observes. Is this what happened the last time you were interviewed?

  1. The Salary question

Why do we treat the subject of salary as something that a jobseeker must earn the right to discuss? Why doesn’t every job ad clearly state the salary range for the position?  The reason is clear, employers want to keep the negotiating advantage that an undisclosed salary range gives them. Again, ask yourself what this says about the employer and the company’s attitude to its employees.

  1. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Applicant Tracking Systems that use keyword-searching algorithms to screen CVs are old technology being used in a pointless, slow, expensive and self-defeating way. An employer will never hire great people by sifting keywords.  ATS technology has been around for twenty years or more but this lesson still hasn’t been learned.  Thankfully the best employers are now starting to use non-ATS recruiting tools, like using talent pools, recruiting pipelines and social networks.

  1. Bad messaging

At every stage of the recruitment process many employers send the clear message “We are the employer, and we are big and important. You are just a job applicant; you are small and unimportant.“ This message comes from a mindset which gets in the way of recruiting the best talent and it tells us that the organisation is not aware that it has to compete for the best talent.

So why do employers hang onto these broken recruitment processes which are so damaging?

Often it is because they have put a lot of time and money into the process they are using and they don’t want to change things now. They do it because the pain the broken recruitment system causes is “soft” pain. It’s only human pain so they cannot put a dollar figure next to it on a spreadsheet.

Often they do it because policies and administration systems reinforce themselves against outsiders, change and new ideas. Business leaders everywhere find it easier to complain about “talent shortages” than to look at their own actions – designing jobs that people can fill, and then finding those people.

It’s always easier to keep doing things – even negative and destructive ones that you have been doing forever than to stop, look, question and change.

From the jobseeker’s point of view, the clearest signs of a company’s culture and the value they place on people are the signs you’ll see in the recruitment and hiring process. You, as an applicant, should be shown respect, clear communication plus positive and clear messages that you are a valued person that this organisation wants to hire. If not, don’t take the job!


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