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Attracting the right talent is pivotal task that virtually every business engages in at some point. Part of this challenge is choosing the right cultural fit, along with technical skills, but success doesn’t lie in simply recruiting well; workplace performance can also make or break a business, and one can never dismiss the importance of employee retention. (Too often, that last factor gets overlooked, but it has a substantial impact on the ROI of the previous two.)
The human element in the world of work is the lifeblood of growth and advancement. So, if we can agree that procurement of talent is critical, why do we still see heavily outdated, rigid and flawed practices when it comes to the three above-mentioned aspects of staffing? The recruitment process seems to be broken on both ends: employers don’t get it right and neither do potential candidates.
To begin with, let’s examine talent acquisition, which on the applicant side starts with a CV. This is your personal presentation, your sales pitch, but it’s scanned for an average of just six seconds, and executives have a very low tolerance for a CV that’s badly written and/or administered. As a business owner myself, I can confirm that it’s very easy to spot when a standard template is being used by a candidate, for example. Many graduates entering the market use the same “free” templates supplied by their schools’ career departments — similarities in presentation and terminology that make resulting applications blur into one. As a business owner with hiring needs, it’s vital to impart to job candidates the importance of not using a template — to stand out from the crowd from the very beginning.
However, the fault certainly does not fall entirely upon candidates; they are, after all, just following broadly accepted rules of recruitment. The larger miscue in the process often begins with the position/job description (PD) published by employers.
The standard recruitment process
Companies often use the same template concept for PDs. These are stored in a file, pre-approved and ready to go on an as-needed basis, and their structure follows the same prescribed format that most businesses would use. For ease, such templates, reviewed by recruitment firms, are tweaked ever so slightly and then then a PD is used to fill in the corresponding vacancy. Essentially, employers and recruitment firms follow the exact same process as the template CV, one that is fundamentally flawed and simply doesn’t work. Then, after a position goes up online and HR/recruiters tap into their networks, they bemoan the lack of suitable options. If by luck, some CVs are picked for screening, many times you end up wondering if the person even read the PD before applying.
By using this approach, recruiters are self-sabotaging their talent acquisition, but the damage doesn’t stop there. Workplace performance is also affected, as it’s very rare that employees remember every aspect of the PD they were recruited upon, never mind letting it help pave the way for success as they go. It should be no surprise then, when retention is hindered by a despondent, disengaged and underperforming workforce.
There are many other contributing factors at play here, to be sure, but prevention is better than cure, and so the PD in this context should come to a hard stop.
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Success profiles are a strong alternative
In my experience, the answer is success profiles. We have been advocating this methodology for some time now, and have racked up an abundance of success stories. The key point of distinction is that instead of looking primarily at what people have, we look at what they do with what they have. We look forward. For example, we’ll ask an applicant, “If you were to get promoted in 12 months, what would you have accomplished by that time?” In this way, not only are we talking about and demonstrating what success means at the company, we are laying out a road map for them — are quite literally setting people up for success.
Sounds obvious, but comparing a completed success profile to an old-fashioned PD is comparing chalk and cheese. The benefits of the former also include more accurately defining success in a job position, including key objectives of the role. These should be presented so clearly that hiring managers and applicants alike should be able to recite them at the drop of a hat.
Next comes the workplace performance aspect of success profiles. I find it’s best to not overload them with generic needs, wants and requirements, which are often a quagmire of “in” business terms of the time (including “collaborate,” “facilitate” and all the other “ates”). These are nonmemorable words without impact or emotion, and fundamentally do not generate outcomes.
Instead, objectives should be dissected into clear and bite-sized actions, with accompanying timeframes for delivery. This is the “paint by numbers” of career success, and just like a winning CV, should be transparent, ambitious, positive and momentum generating. As a result, emotion is created in the right candidate, who will know exactly what they need to do from day one, along with any major predicted challenges.
A good success profile instills confidence in the hiring process — adds a much-needed competitive edge — and this confidence transcends into new hires themselves. They will know you are the employer of choice when comparing your success profile to other generic PDs. Furthermore, this will boost synergy with company-wide objectives and key results, which are increasingly vital among forward-thinking organizations that grasp the importance of departmental performance.