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Brand Jobbing — Hiring the Best

HR often looks askance at change, so it seems odd they are viewing the new hiring trend with favour bordering on admiration.

THE CONSTANT constant lament of every department in a company is that HR is a stickler for systems and procedures and that any infraction of rules is tantamount to a crucifixion. To a large extent this is true because systems and procedures are in place because they must be followed to facilitate the smooth conduct of business. HR often looks askance at change, so it seems odd they are viewing the new hiring trend with favour bordering on admiration.

It used to be that HR bosses across the world were hyping their organisations so as to present the most alluring picture to a prospective candidate. The plusses were magnified and the minuses were downplayed, after all, they figured, who would want to work for a dismal employer? And it's true, who would? So, the fact that they are looking at options is surprising. It's not even as if the premise were patently wrong, because it isn't so why the desire to switch?

Actually, it's been found that initiatives based on traditional job descriptions are no longer very effective when compared with statistics that indicate a five percent reduction in job turnover when multi-level hiring from senior management to entry level by `job branding'. What was most revealing is the single pertinent fact that the five percent so retained were top performers!

A Rose by any other Name?

The old way was by issuing a job description; job branding is providing a `performance profile'. Experience of those who have tried it indicates that top performers are attracted more to the job than to the organisation. As they are performance oriented, it's the challenge and benchmarking opportunity that appeals to them, not the organisational bottom line! Great jobs are more attractive than good places. While the first step is all about writing out performance profiles, it's also about not making the common bloomers of the hiring process.

Bloomer #1: Boring is Bad Ads

It's difficult to find top performers rooting about looking for a job, because they're too busy working. If they skim through the appointment pages, they rarely look at the advertisements unless it actually catches their eye. Looking at dull boring pictures (if any) and reading carefully through the fine print for a job description is something they wouldn't care very much to do. They assume that if the copy and advertisement is boring, the job must be boring too! The chances of attracting the best applicants arise from publishing the most attractive looking and attractively phrased advertisements. A challenge excites, a mere requirement repels the intelligent candidate.

Bloomer #2: Process gainful to process painful

One thing that irritates top performers is a hiring process that takes too much of the time they could spend getting their work done, or their `play' played. If candidates are required to fill in reams of paper, only those who need the job will. Those who might have been interested but will not make a strong effort to join won't even look at the job twice if it's too much trouble to get into. Instead of warning diffident applicants that the job involves a great deal of travel, it's far more exciting to state that several opportunities exist for mind-widening experiences in travel to job locations in the country and abroad. Another thing that is off-putting is the process of hiring. The best candidates have no patience to go through several interviews before being accepted. They know they are good, and wading through paperwork and meeting several people before being accepted is not acceptable. They are more comfortable being chased than in chasing an elusive confirmation.

Bloomer #3: Inept Hirers Make Bad Hires

One colossal mistake that companies do is to task their common or garden HR people to effect top hiring. Nothing can be more fatal to the chances of effective hiring of top performers. While line HR people may be able to execute routine hiring, unless they are suitably trained to hire top performers, they should be restricted to a limited role. Ideally, a recruitment executive should sit in during such interviews to absorb the techniques exhibited by experienced recruiters. No amount of classroom teaching can convey the nuances of top-class hiring. Even though a proper instrument of assessment exists, its use can only be optimised with practical experience. A top performer will run circles around an inept hirer, and will swiftly lose interest in the proceedings and ultimately the job itself.

Bloomer #4 Leaping to conclusions is leaping into a void

Many recruiters, even experienced ones, often make up their minds in the first five minutes, basing their decision on intangible gut feel. It is so easy to like a good-looking, bright and vivacious candidate. All this proves is that the candidates are good communicators and know how to take care of their grooming. Top performers may not have cosmetic appeal and undiscerning hirers may well miss the gold in their pan by relying on their first impressions.

The next part of this article is a discussion of what to do about the bloomers above and how to get the best talent in and keep them there!


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