Why Most Recruitment Is All Wrong (A deliberately provocative piece on typical recruitment errors)

For many organisations, recruitment has become a dull business. Often it’s a passive, impersonal and uncreative process:

Passive – It involves putting out adverts, spreading the word, hoping for the best and seeing who applies.

Impersonal – It’s largely process-driven. It’s all about application forms, CVs, covering letters, assessment sheets, job descriptions and person specification. Hardly anyone gets very excited about these documents, they’re pretty lifeless, and usually often feel remote from the real person behind them. Even when you meet the candidate in person, interviews are often dry box-ticking affairs, hemmed in by pre-decided questions.

Uncreative – There’s very little original thinking required in the process. It’s much more about turning the handle of the sausage machine and seeing who comes out on top.

This approach to recruitment is frankly boring and, what’s worse, misses what recruitment is really about. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with following a rigorous and objective process. Good process is important. But all too often recruitment is reduced to process. At Carnelian Search we seek to model a different approach to recruitment. An approach which is:

Active – We go and look for the right people. Very often these people are doing other jobs, are not looking to move, and wouldn’t reply to a job advert. We are always asking: ‘Who is the best person out there for this job, regardless of what they are currently doing?’ We do deep research to identify these people. This approach pro-actively hunts out the very best people, rather than passively waiting for them to turn up (except the very best people never do just turn up).

Personal – We build relationships with potential candidates, and when appropriate ask: ‘Would you consider doing this role?’ There is great power in the personal ask, especially in the context of a trusting relationship. Candidates are people, which makes recruitment primarily about relationship. And selecting the right person requires the emotional intelligence to read people well, ask perceptive questions, empathise, challenge and build rapport.

Creative – We think outside the box and challenge ourselves to look beyond the superficial barriers. People are complex and fascinating and unpredictable, so the best candidates often lurk in unexpected places. Creative thinking is needed to find them.

The contrast here is not merely between two different methods, but between two mindsets and sets of values. The fundamental question is: What is recruitment about? – process or people?

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