By Max MacGillivray
A lot of the problems around people in the Fresh Produce and Agri-Business sectors drive me crazy. I hate to see good business squander their talent.
In to their doors every day walk incredibly smart and gifted people, but then quite often those smart and talented employees’ energy and good ideas are squashed under the weight of mindless bureaucracy or petty politics. That’s highly irritating to me not only as an industry commentator but also as a senior level recruiter for the sectors I thoroughly enjoying working for.
Some of the employers who waste talent figure it out and work with our company or another recruitment firm to fix their problems, but a lot of them don’t. They might not even see the damage they’re doing. As long as their people hit the marks they’re supposed to hit, they’re happy….
Imagine that you were a farmer with a field of vegetables and you only ate, sold or gave away a tiny percentage of the vegetables you grew. The rest of them you threw away. They could go to feeding people or feeding animals but you decided “Nah, I only want to use a few of the vegetables I grow. Hey – it’s my farm! Don’t tell me what to do!”
It is your farm, but when a resource goes to waste it hurts all of us. One of the first ways employers cause damage to themselves and the rest of us in their recruiting processes. Here are nine of the ways employers screw up recruiting that I unfortunately see time and time again.
They Design Jobs Badly:
The first step in hiring a new person is to “design” the job. Even if a job has been occupied before, every time someone leaves to go to a new position inside or outside of the company there’s a great opportunity to evaluate the position and see how it needs to change to benefit everyone.
Most employers design jobs from the standpoint “What list of tasks can we give the new employee?” They don’t think about the recruitment process as a sales process, even though it is. The smarter and more capable the person you want to employ, the more the job description has to appeal to candidates who don’t already know your company. We load up our job descriptions with so much rubbish that nobody with an ounce of self-esteem would apply, because they can see from the job ad that the job really requires maybe three people!
We can be more thoughtful and design jobs that a living person can perform, and have fun doing just that as they will be highly more productive. That’s the first big win for an employer that cares about gaining top talent.
They Write Job Ads Badly:
The typical job ad is a huge talent repellent. It starts out “We have an immediate need for…”
You have a need? I understand that people in Hell need ice water! What about me, the possible candidate…do my needs count? If you care about hiring great people, take the zombie voice out of your job ads and talk the way humans do.
A job ad is a marketing vehicle, but most employers write jobs in the most un-marketing-like way imaginable.
You can use your job ads to tell candidates why the role is exciting and drop out three-quarters of the Essential Requirements that are actually not essential at all.
They Promote Their Job Ads Badly:
Most employers promote their job ads so widely that they end up having to screen tons of resumes they should never have received in the first place. We can be smarter about the way we promote our job openings.
We can use our own employees as a primary channel for talent, followed by our customers and the people who like and follow our companies. We don’t have to advertise our jobs on every available surface. That is bad marketing, not good recruiting.
They Respond to Candidates Badly:
If you say in any forum, face-to-face or in writing that you value talent, then take the horrible robot voice out of your auto-responder messages and put a human voice into them.
If you don’t respect your candidates, people who have taken the time and energy to contact you, enough to greet them and thank them in the manner of humans around the world, you don’t deserve them.
They Screen Candidates Badly:
Maybe the most broken part of recruiting is the screening process. It astounds me that grown-up managers would think we could find talent by picking through resumes looking for keywords. If you live on Planet Earth for ten minutes, that’s not the way to hire good people. Anybody can stuff a resume with keywords.
They Communicate with Candidates Badly:
Once a person is in your interview pipeline, your job is to treat them like gold. If you have too many candidates to be able to do that, then your recruiting process is broken.
They Interview People Badly:
When you interview people by asking them “Tell me about a time when…” type questions, you don’t deserve them. When you interview people from a script, exactly the same applies.
Lots of bosses worry that their managers don’t know how to manage, but I will tell you this: most interviewers don’t know how to interview. They don’t how to start a human conversation or how to vet and woo people simultaneously the way a good interviewer must.
Two of the biggest areas in business training are sales training and customer service training. That makes good sense because sales and customer service are high-touch roles. Recruiting is a high-touch role as well.
They Move Toward a Job Offer Badly:
It is the height of arrogance, not to mention ignorance, to get people into your pipeline via a job ad and then leave them to languish. How can you call yourself a manager when you don’t have time to attend to the people side of your role, the most important element of your business?
They Extend Job Offers Badly:
Before you extend a job offer to a candidate you have to know whether he or she is likely to accept your offer. Would you get as far as the contract-signing phase of a new supplier relationship without knowing how much the supplier needs to be paid? Of course not…
When you get serious about hiring a particular candidate, you’ll call that person on the phone or meet with them in person and present them the offer.
You’ll say “Supposing we were to make you an offer…. and that is the direction we’re heading and the reason for all these conversations, of course…. what would it take for you to sign the offer right away?”
You’ll talk with the candidate about his or her needs. You’ll hash things out and come to an agreement — or agree to part friends.
You can give your company a huge recruiting advantage simply by humanizing your recruiting process.
None of what I’ve written here is rocket science but it seems to befuddle employers around the world time and time again. What I have stated if you adopt it gives you an edge in hiring great people but only if you take the time to fix your potentially broken system.
It’s time for a new approach to recruiting. Call it recruiting with a Human Voice. If you’re looking for the most beaten-down and submissive candidates, you don’t need to think about your recruiting process. If you care about hiring smart and capable people, maybe you should. Or just give me a call +44 (0) 1284 715055 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org to sort it for you.
By Max MacGillivray