Q·MAG Team

How to completely fail in recruiting.

Recruiting changes your company – for the better or for the worse. Better do it right, to enable the future growth of your organisation.

Hong Liu

HR specialists might tell you that the process starts on the day they receive the approved hiring requisition: this will be the day they start to calculate the hiring lead time from. It’s in their best interest to let it start as late as possible, because the quicker they fill the position, the better for their personal performance review. But long before HR even starts to think about filling the position, the hiring manager had to request the position with the good arguments, and the responsible vice president or general manager had to approve the headcount.

Does that sound familiar to you?

If so, you may have made similar experiences like I did: the following story really happened in the Chinese branch of a German company in Shanghai. They wanted to reorganise their sales and project management in the branch office, because the project management should be independent from sales, and – of course – the Chinese office should have the same structure and hierarchy as their German head office.

So far, so good: sounds reasonable, should be easy. Right?

„We need a Director of Project Management, here’s the Job Description, please start searching immediately.“ HR analyses the JD, starts an internal search (without any appropriate result), involves three suitable recruiting agencies, screens curricula, conducts pre-screening-interviews, and programs interview of likely candidates with the hiring manager. The interviews go well, but none of the candidates really shines – the hiring manager doesn’t seem fully convinced by anyone of them, and after the 5th interview he cautiously voices the idea that actually he might be searching for an Operations Director. Because he suffered already for quite some time from the bad performance of the actual operations manager, and is thinking about terminating the guy. So it might be a good idea to combine the responsibility of operations and project management in one position.

Thus the vacancy now is called „Operations Director,“ and the searching starts all over again. Obviously, starting from zero again takes time – now searching a manager with a completely different set of capabilities and past experiences, and even with the support of a capable headhunter quite rare and therefore difficult to find in this particular business sector.

At the same time the daily business is taking on speed: clients are waiting for urgent deliveries – and the operations manager still doesn’t perform. The hiring manager feels the pressure, the management team cannot cope with it, and a few orders from key customers go astray: time to act, urgently and quickly! The solution: hire a „Plant Manager,“ who can fulfil the urgent tasks and make the daily business run smoothly. Now a careful selection doesn’t matter anymore, even a junior one will do. The hiring manager quickly chooses his favorite from 3 candidates presented to him, and urgently books the final interview with his European counterpart for the hiring decision.

Unfortunately, the chosen one was rejected by headquarters, because he’s lacking experience in logistics.

Total fail. Think about all the time and resources wasted. These many people left behind completely frustrated – within the company, in the recruiting agencies, amongst the candidates who can see that in the end nobody was hired. And the risk that the most qualified of them might start talking unfavourably about their experience with this company, making it even more difficult to hire talented managers in a highly specialised, and therefore small, talent market.

What can you learn from this experience? Most importantly, the search doesn’t start with the search for candidates, but already a long time before. And if it’s not planned strategically, a lot of energy will be wasted in the process, and valuable time for improving your company’s performance will be lost along the way. And you won’t get the best candidate for your company, if you don’t know exactly who you are searching for.

Recruitments provide important opportunities for departments and whole organisations to review their organisational structure and to align the employees’ skill sets to initiatives and goals, resulting in the organisation’s and the individual’s growth. Proper planning and evaluation of the real needs will lead to hiring the right person for the role and its associated team more efficiently and effectively.

Nevertheless, this is not how it’s done most of the time. You can do better – already knowing about…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiting

and what you can do to avoid them to make your recruiting a success:

Just start searching

Maybe not. First step in every recruitment process should be to identify the vacant position and evaluate the requirement profile for it.
Who are you searching for exactly?

Quickly hire someone who can ease your immediate pain points

Maybe not. The role’s contribution to achieve the organisational goals should be clearly defined.

Which benefit will filling this role bring to enhance the future performance of the company?

Don’t look beyond the team you’re hiring for

Maybe not. The recruiting manager should always keep the big picture of the whole organisation in mind.

How could hiring for this position impact other positions, and is filling this position the best solution for the organisation?

Good Feeling Equals Good Hire

Maybe not. For the position should be clearly defined which skills, experience, past performance and future potentiality are essential.

Which core competencies are missing in the department and the company?

Quick & urgent, everything else we will sort out later

Maybe not. The impact of hiring for this position should be analysed and possible interdependencies and implications cleared up in advance.

Are there any foreseeable changes that may impact this role?

Additional headcount is a joker

Maybe not. For a newly created position the strategic goals of the department and the whole organisation connected with it should be considered, understood and shared by all involved parties in advance.

Does everybody agree on the responsibilities, goals, and tasks for this position?

Just replace the person quickly, so that we don’t lose the headcount

Maybe not. In case of a replacement, instead of taking the approval to refill for granted, the role should be reviewed and a conscious decision be taken if there are any changes required regarding tasks and responsibilities.

Which results did the previous employee generate, which tasks and responsibilities should be removed, added, or transferred to another within or out of the department? Is there still a requirement for this role at all?

If you recognised your own recruiting strategy in one or more of these 7 Sins – just change the strategy: from today on you can do better – and if you take your time to prepare the hunt for talent, the probability that you will quickly find what you were really looking for will increase notably. Recruiting is just way too important for the operational success as well as for the leadership culture in your company to be taken lightly. Everybody can be successful in recruiting – let me know if this was helpful for you to more efficiently fill your open positions with qualified candidates.

Hong Liu

By Hong Liu

Hong is an experienced HR expert for challenging business situations: if you want to create an environment attractive to top-level talent in leadership or build up an efficient HR administration, she’s the perfect choice. For more than 10 years she’s created stunning results in multinational corporations, like successfully integrating two company cultures post-merger, or building up a new plant’s staff from 0 to 450 in two years, or creating an Asia-wide management development program for more than 120 junior talents.

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