|In the fall of 2007, when the U.S. economy first seemed in peril, I began answering reader queries here on the Business Desk. I still do so occasionally, but this page has expanded to include posts from eminent economists, "far-flung correspondents," and a variety of voices that have intriguing and/or useful things to say about economics, broadly defined. Please feel encouraged to respond to any and all of them.|
Ask The Headhunter: The Talent Shortage Myth and Why HR Should Get Out of the Hiring Business
By Nick Corcodilos
When HR personnel are put in charge of hiring new employees, they often rely on database searches, keywords and collecting stacks and stacks of resumes. Headhunting expert Nick Corcodilos says these may not be the most effective strategies to find the right person for the job. Image by Art Glazer/Getty Images.
In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: Throughout my career I have gotten new jobs by meeting and talking to managers who would be my bosses. Now I keep running into the human resources roadblock in companies where I'd like to talk to a manager about a job. Honestly, I just don't see the reason for silly online application forms or for "screeners" who don't understand the work I do, when companies complain they cannot find the right talent. I really don't get it.
Why do companies even have HR departments involved in hiring?
Nick Corcodilos: Good question. Better question: Should human resources (HR) be in the recruiting and hiring business? My answer is an emphatic no for two main reasons, though there are many others. First, I believe HR is qualified only to recruit and hire other HR workers. HR is not an expert in marketing, engineering, manufacturing, accounting, or any other function. HR is thus not the best manager of recruiting, candidate selection, interviewing, or hiring for any of those corporate departments.
Second, putting the critical tasks of recruiting and hiring in the hands of HR tacitly relieves departmental managers of what I believe are two of their most crucial management jobs -- finding and hiring good people.
In an article titled "The Recruiting Paradox," I offer employers three simple suggestions for improving recruiting:
I think companies suffer when they subject applicants to the impersonal and bureaucratic experience of dealing with HR.
Which brings me to the third reason HR should be taken out of the recruiting and hiring business: HR has no skin in the game. It virtually doesn't matter who is recruited, processed, or hired because HR isn't held accountable. It's hardly HR's fault, but it's a rare company that rewards or blames HR for the quality of hiring. HR is typically insulated as a "necessary overhead function."
Don't get me wrong: There are some very good people working in HR, and there may be a legitimate role for HR in many companies. But HR's domination of recruiting and hiring has led to a disaster of staggering magnitude in our economy. In the middle of one of the biggest talent gluts in American history, employers complain they can't fill jobs.
According to NewsHour's latest estimate, nearly 27 million Americans are currently looking for work, either because they are unemployed or under-employed. (The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] reports 12 million unemployed. I prefer the NewsHour figure because it tells us just how big the pool of available talent is.) Concurrently, BLS also reports that 3.7 million jobs are vacant.
What does HR call this 7:1 ratio of available talent to vacant jobs? It has a special term. HR departments and employers call this 7:1 edge "the great talent shortage!"
While the economy has put massive numbers of talented workers on the street, HR nonetheless complains it can't find the workers it needs. That's no surprise when HR's idea of finding talent is to resort to database searches and keyword filtering, which are disastrously inadequate methods for finding and attracting the best hires.
The typical HR process of recruiting and hiring is most generously described as "hiring who comes along" via job boards and advertisements. It's a rare (and precious) HR worker who gets up from behind the computer display to actually go find, meet, and bring home good candidates.
I could write pages about corporate maladies that arise from employers' over-reliance on HR to recruit and hire. Instead, I'm just going to list some of the ways HR can kill any company's competitive edge by interfering with these management functions:
This situation didn't arise overnight. It crept up on business in the form of a smothering shroud of red tape. Today this HR bureaucracy is propped up by an industry of "consultants," "professionals," and "experts" who advise corporate HR departments about how to maintain their administrative hegemony over the key differentiator that defines any company--its people.
HR should get out of the recruiting and hiring business and give this strategic function back to business units and managers who design, build, manufacture, market and sell a company's products. Give recruiting and hiring back to the people who actually do the business. Who better to decide who's worth hiring? Who better to aggressively go find the people who will give the company an edge?
In the meantime, job hunters have no choice but to "Outsmart The Employment System."
Please share your thoughts below about whether HR should relinquish its recruiting and hiring functions. Have you experienced problems with HR in this regard? What do you think should be done about it? (And if you think I'm wrong, please tell me why.)
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?" and "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps."
Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!
Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.
This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow Paul on Twitter.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Ask The Headhunter: The Talent Shortage Myth and Why HR Should Get Out of the Hiring Business.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
|Support the kind of journalism done by the NewsHour...Become a member of your local PBS station.|