Why Companies Can’t Land Good Talent


There have been many articles written claiming that good talent is getting harder to come by.

Many companies claim that there are too many applicants and not enough positions. An HR manager I know said she posted for a factory floor job and got 200 applicants that day – over half of whom she claimed were not qualified.

Others say that we are in a cultural decline of work ethic dovetailed with entitlement, and point to higher turnover rates, the lack of direction in Millennials, and the short-term job hopping that occurs.

While there are some truths to these points, many of these are not and are very general. They shift blame away from the company and onto external factors. There is more solid talent out there than people are willing to realize and by changing some techniques and organizational mindset your company will be able to find the “hidden talent” that is seeking for you as well.

Here are some reasons why companies whiff on good talent and how to change the outcome:

  • Unclear expectations. You need a director, manager, or hourly staff. But have you asked Who you need? Or Why? Or How does this person fit into our company? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you don’t really know what you need. Get your arms around the reasons and you’ll understand the types of candidates you need to attract.
  • Over-reliance on ATS. ATS systems do one thing great – handle the volumes of applicant resumes. But buzzwords and key phrases cannot pick up talent, values, and heart. If you’re asking for ATS to be the gatekeeper, you might be missing good people. Instead consider the better gatekeeper screening tool as listed in the next item.
  • Lack of a core-value based screening. Does it make sense to process an online resume, do a phone screen, and then an in-person interview only to find out the candidate clashes with your company culture, or has a lack of character? A carefully constructed, values-based online screening tool will go a long way to filter out those candidates who are not the right fit so you can focus your time on their future and not their facade. This can be as simple as an online Survey Monkey questionnaire, or as complex as screening some large companies offer. Don’t waste your time on the wrong talent; get the right people in the pipeline before you talk to them.
  • Not qualifying minimum qualifications. If you list minimum qualifications, then you need to further interview and qualify those that match what you’ve listed. I know of many personal friends who have achieved VP and CEO positions (and enjoyed long term success as well) and their LinkedIn profile had the basic experience for their new role. Sometimes a person with the basic skills has better character or a more creative look than someone who has proven themselves in other places. If the baseline is your floor, then you need to look at these rookies as well.
  • Your hiring technology stinks. I’ve talked with many people who hate filling in online applications because they are outdated, cumbersome, and time-consuming. Auto-populated forms get the information wrong or in the wrong field, so the applicant needs to fill them out all over again. Buttons don’t work with new browser upgrades. Many of these systems are in need of a major tech overhaul – are yours? Spend time frequently to apply on your own site and see if the candidate experience is a good representation of your company.
  • Having a bias toward certain personality, skills and traits. Peter Friedes, former CEO of Hewitt Associates, posted in Lead Change Group about the tendency for hiring managers to find “like-me” people. His suggestions help leaders to realize that we need to look across the board at the collective skills and find the complimentary talents the organization needs, not just the ones we’re comfortable with.
  • Looking to solve a problem, and not hire a personHow many organizations hire in reaction to events? These events may be caused from mismanagement, job stress, company decline, and other issues which may be caused by the position’s predecessor, or the company itself. If your culture, leadership style, reputation, systems, or business model is broken, the right talent won’t fix it; they will be sharp enough to stay away. If you fix these issues, you can be more proactive and look for the talent to take you farther. Get your house in order so you can attract good people. As my good friend Mary Schaefer from Artemis Path says, “Put the human back in Human Resources.”
  • You don’t want people from certain backgrounds, affiliations, network connections. Do candidates from a certain university outperform those from a smaller college? Will a person who worked with a competitor be a saboteur or a maverick? Does that candidate who left seven years ago to better themselves understand our culture better than the others, or do we want to not hire from the “old regime”? Qualify each candidate based on their merits, and not any pre-conceived (and incorrect) notions.
  • Underestimating a candidate’s true talent. Many times someone’s success is indicated by their volunteer hours, their professional affiliations, their hobbies, or their secondary career pursuits (like writing, training, or coaching on the side). A candidate’s value is often worth more than what they did between 9-5 during the week. Look at the whole person, and the desirable traits you’re looking for may pop out in ways you didn’t expect.
  • Arrogance that you know the industry better than you really do. Many times organizations and the people hiring within think they know their craft, when it’s their lack of knowledge that has gotten them to hire for the position in the first place. Not having succession planning, leadership development, or fostering a know-it-all mindset leaves companies with a talent void. Good talent will shy away from people that exhibit those traits, and companies will turn away good talent that is perceived to challenge their own knowledge. As a leader you need to honestly assess what you’re limitations are and find people who bring fresh thinking and new ideas to the table.

Good talent is not hard to find. Many people are desperately in search for companies that provide fulfillment, values, validation, voice, and integrity. If you’re not finding them, then most likely your hiring model is broken. The good news is it can be fixed.

Determine to be the best at digging up talent, and you’ll strike gold where others come up with dirt.

(image: morguefile)


About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on September.15.2015, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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