How to suck at hiring.
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
It’s a new year full of new opportunities, and that means making aspirational New Year’s resolutions.
The thing with resolutions, however, is that change is hard and it’s rare that we ever achieve the lofty goals that we set out to accomplish on January 1st.
Change is hard, maintaining the status-quo is comfortable and being average is safe.
Take something as simple (and wildly complicated) as hiring for example.
For many of us, once January 7th hits the brand new word a day calendar that our niece or nephew got us for Christmas, reality sets in and a sudden sense of urgency returns noting that widgets need to be created, wheels need to be turned and bills need to be paid.
That often means we need to hire new people for our teams.
Acknowledging that hiring awesome people is hard, instead of applying the snippets of brilliance that we read in those books and LinkedIn status updates from our favourite HR pros in 2018 and actually get better at hiring in 2019, why not toss ourselves a softball right down the middle of the plate and declare a New Year’s resolution that is not only simple, but super easy to accomplish?
Don’t fret, I’m here for you.
Put your right hand over your heart and repeat after me:
“I _______ declare that in 2019, not only will I not improve at hiring awesome people, but I’ll actually get worse at it.”
It’s easier to relax in a land of mediocrity and pay ridiculously high recruiting agency fees to build your team as opposed to taking different strategies into account and learning new skills that will actually make your business better.
As a celebration of ridiculousness and a guaranteed resolution that we can all easily complete, I present to you the following five tips that will guarantee that you not only don't improve at hiring in 2019 but actually get worse at it.
How to suck at hiring tip number 1:
Use ridiculous job titles that you think are cool, but no one outside of your organization actually understands.
I used to call myself a ‘recruitment and talent branding magician’.
I used to be an idiot!
I thought it was funny and did it to make myself stand out as someone that was approachable, but surprisingly enough, peeps aren't super comfortable approaching magicians online these days…. or clowns.
Anyway, if you assume that your target audience has already drunk your internal Kool-aid and understands your organization’s lingo, you’re dead wrong.
Here’s a great example of an awesome job title that is crystal clear and leaves nothing to the imagination courtesy of Moonfleet Poultry.
Any questions about what that job entails?
Didn’t think so.
They could have called this job a ‘Poultry Logistics Specialist’ or ‘Avian Transportation Guru’, but nope.
Bravo Moonfleet, bravo.
Are you being direct with your target audience?
Nah, me neither. I’d rather tell an inside joke that no one laughed at.
How to suck at hiring tip number 2:
Make your job postings read like a “Here’s the 137 reasons we won’t hire you” checklist.
You know what I find people really enjoy?
Being evaluated against ridiculous criteria that have no bearing on potential success AND feeling like an easily replaceable human battery during the whole selection process as opposed to a human being.
I’m still pissed that the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Sidney Crosby over Marek Zagrapan in the 2005 NHL entry draft.
Marek Zagrapan, what’s wrong with you?
Zagrapan was a tough, 6 foot, 190 pound Centre with a left-hand shot, and could play the penalty kill like a mofo. He matched the job description for a Centre perfectly! Crosby on the other hand was and still is undersized, AND he’s made of glass.
Sure Crosby has led the Penguins to three Stanley Cups, but those were random wins and had nothing to do with his performance.
Then again, maybe the Penguins were on to something and understood that there may be more to success as a Centre on their team than what was listed on the job description.
Nah, that sounds like crazy talk.
Are you evaluating talent for their potential success at your organization, or against nonsense tangibles like years of experience doing X with no regard for performance?
I know lots of people that have 5 years of experience that happen to suck at their job… do you?
How to suck at hiring tip number 3:
Have and enforce an archaic social media policy.
There is no better way to let the world know that you don’t trust your employees than not giving them access to their social media while at the office OR having a social media policy that includes an “opinions expressed are mine and not necessarily those of my employer” bullet point.
It’s really too bad that you can’t police what your people are saying offline so it makes total sense that you should try to make up for it by doing everything you can to control what they are saying online.
I love seeing multiple people from the same organization sharing and tweeting the exact same cold marketing approved messages that were crafted with love by some out of touch PR person that has absolutely no faith in others to engage their personal connections in real life.
I can’t wait until Apple perfects the human USB port so we can remove all personality from our professional existence.
I suppose a better course of action could be to inspire, educate and empower our employees about social media and how their day to day actions can impact the success of our businesses - especially as it relates to hiring - and then trust them to act like adults.
After all, the sum of our employee’s social media following is easily a factor of 100 times larger than our organization’s, and our employees have something within their networks that no organization or recruiter on the planet has within their network… credibility.
It’s easier to live in a fantasy world where we think we can control everything people say and do.
How to suck at hiring tip number 4:
Have a completely chaotic, disorganized and time-consuming selection process that only a NASA engineer could actually understand and implement within a calendar year.
The more complicated the better, that’s what I always say!
Sure there’s a “war for talent” and all, but from my experience, people love to play hurry up, fake a dentist appointment for an interview on short notice and then wait for weeks at a time for feedback… and then do it all over again when you’re ready to get off your hump and have your potential new hire meet with someone else to ask them the exact same questions all over again.
I don’t know about you, but I sleep much better at night when I know that I have completely wasted a stranger’s time and added mountains of stress to their home life while I got to enjoy playing puppet master because my mom didn't hug me enough as a child.
Alternatively, I suppose you could map out and share with your potential new hires a simple, efficient and repeatable selection process where all parties knew what, when and with whom to expect so everyone could make good use of his or her time to discuss what success at your organization looks like…
Which brings me to how to suck at hiring tip number 5.
How to suck at hiring tip number 5:
Have absolutely no clue what a successful hire looks like, and how to identify potential in another human being.
One of my favourite past times is putting a blindfold on, resting my forehead on the nub of a baseball bat, putting the head of the bat on the ground, spinning around as many times as it takes to disorient myself to the point of falling over, and then throwing a dart at moving dartboard in an attempt to hit a bullseye.
That’s how typical hiring decisions should be made, right?
What's so wrong with interviewing 10 or 12 people just to figure out what I am, and am not looking for?
Nothing, that’s normal!
Then again, I suppose it may be of value to me, everyone on my team as well as the people that I am meeting to actually put some thought towards what success looks like in my next hire, and what I will be measuring everyone against prior to wasting a dozen people’s time and sick days.
Hmm. Nah, that sounds too smart.
See, this is simple!
The bar for sucking at hiring is set pretty low and there is no reason why you can’t accomplish your new New Year’s resolution to get worse at hiring!
It’s a good thing that peeps are lining up at your door in droves begging you to hire them, especially at 95 cents on the dollar, right?
No worries, don’t lose too much sleep.
Lots of your competitors suck at hiring too, so your inability to hire the people you need to make your business successful is a common problem.
To ensure that your competitors continue to suck at hiring, or suck even worse than you, I suggest you forward these five tips to one of your talent rivals.
Do that for me and I’ll invite you to my birthday party this spring!
In the event that you’d prefer to not suck at hiring, I hear you.
Challenging the status-quo of suckiness, though scary, can be an exhilarating experience.
It’s tough to accept to that you may be coming from a place of suck, but I can help you.
I can help you suck at hiring a little less.
In fact, I can help you consistently hire great people quickly and cost-effectively.
Then again, that sounds like work and I’d rather get back to my average game of Sudoku too.
I like making cold calls and filling inboxes with SPAM anyway.
Happy New Year.
Have a great day and all the best in 2019!