Does HR Belong in the Hiring Business?

This article first published at The HR Agenda Magazine [July-September 2013 issue].

 

“HR professionals should get out of the hiring business!”
If you are an HR or recruiting professional, I can see you fuming in anger! But putting pride aside and taking a more objective look at this issue, there are serious grounds for this argument. Nick Corcodilos, America’s maverick headhunter, aptly wrote in his blog giving three main reasons why HR professionals should get out of the hiring business:

 

✓ HR professionals are not experts in the business of any department compared to members of the department itself, and thus, they are not the best manager of recruiting, candidate selection, interviewing or hiring.

 

✓ Putting the responsibility of hiring in the hands of the HR department tacitly relieves the real hiring managers of their most crucial management tasks: finding, hiring and training the right talent.

 

✓ HR has no skin in the game. It doesn't matter who is recruited, processed or hired because HR gets paid regardless. HR doesn’t really have a stake since they will not be the ones working with the people they recruit.

 

I have to agree that there is some truth to Corcodilos’ arguments. As organizations have become more complex, HR willingly (or unwillingly) allowed its role to evolve into that of a mere gatekeeper. Hence, his arguments can’t simply be brushed aside. We, as HR professionals, should look at the mirror and honestly confront these arguments.

 

If HR professionals wish to remain in the hiring business, we must earn our right to be there in the first place, instead of having a free ticket simply because we are in the HR department. As I have always believed, hiring is, and remains, among the most important tasks, if not the most important task an HR professional does for an organization.

 

It won’t be easy, as HR professionals need to overcome deeply entrenched values and practices in how we find, attract and retain top talent. We must reinvent the role we are playing at the hiring table.

 

Earn the Right to be at Hiring Table
HR professionals can start by acting as the enabler rather than the gatekeeper in the hiring process. The HR professional should refrain from being a mere pencil pusher, CV screener or interview scheduler. There are more important things an HR professional can do and trivial functions such as these can be outsourced or delegated to a temporary staffer.

 

HR professionals should also go beyond the silo mentality where each step of hiring passes through them as a means of process control. HR must focus instead in quality assurance by encouraging hiring managers and recruitment partners to be proactively involved in the entire selection process from interview, assessment and validation, all the way to the final offer.

 

"HR should put in place a
robust recruiting methodology
based on best-in-class
hiring practices."

 

Most importantly, HR professionals need to adopt author and management guru Jim Collins’ assertion that “people are not the organization’s most important asset,” but rather “the right people are.” By doing this, HR would probably earn 50 percent of its right to remain in the hiring business. Simply put, while it is easy to put warm bodies in any position and hope they get the job done, getting the right people for the right job is an altogether different story.

 

At the end of the day, business expects HR to deliver results not activities, solutions not excuses and superior performance over mediocrity.

 

How to Hire the Right Talent

 

HR professionals should put in place a robust recruiting methodology based on bestin- class hiring practices that ensure the right people are put in the right jobs. Specifically, I recommend the following six proven steps, by which HR can find, attract and retain top talent for the organization:

 

Step 1: Stop writing a traditional job description and start developing a total job performance profile that will help you define what success looks like for this role. Lou Adler, dubbed America’s original headhunter, does a good job in explaining why HR should ban the use of traditional JDs in his article “Why you must eliminate job descriptions.

 

Step 2: Develop a talent-sourcing plan and create a compelling job announcement or advertisement. Use traditional and non-traditional means to reach your talent pool such as social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Ping, Pinterest, etc.) and niche job boards. Know where potential candidates gather either passively or actively. Make your job adverts more eye-catching and unique enough to stand out from the crowd.

 

Step 3: Conduct behavioral or evidence-based interviews. Although it may not always be true, past behavior (or performance) still  remains to be the best predictor so far of future behavior (or performance).

 

Step 4: Conduct behavioral profiling assessment and reference or background checks. There are tons of profiling tools out there in the market but don’t use DiSC, DISC, or Myers-Briggs for this purpose. They can be used as a development tool, but not as a hiring tool. Otherwise, you open your organization to lawsuits. (Related article: “Best Practice in Talent Assessment” by Dan Harrison, The HR Agenda, Jul-Sep, 2011.)

 

In addition, conduct reference or background checks before you extend any offer to your candidates or make employment conditional to their successful passing of these checks. As the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said during the Cold War, “Trust but verify.” Yes, even in Japan, HR professionals should start vetting their employees as the incidence of employee lies and misrepresentations are on the rise.

 

Step 5: Recruit and close. Candidate closing is more of an art than an exact science. Understand what motivates top talent: the opportunity, the company, the team, the boss and the pay mix. Remember: it’s never the pay alone. Also, recruit from the start to finish. Always do a “trial closing” every step of the hiring process by asking the candidate “What if…” questions. By doing this, you will be able to gauge candidate interests and raise possible issues that may hinder successful acceptance of an offer. Again, recruit to close.

 

Step 6: Don’t neglect transition coaching and on-boarding. Now that you have successfully made an offer and it was accepted, your work doesn’t stop there. Continue to recruit people to stay with the company. Take an active part in creating their career plans within the company and consider them for succession planning.

 

Should HR professionals remain in the hiring business? (Join this quick poll) Well, the decision is yours. Will you remain the CV pusher and interview scheduler or will you start earning that right to be at the hiring table? If you want to keep the status quo, then the answer is clear: HR needs to pack up and get out of the hiring business as its mere presence will just create more damage than gain.

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