Seven or eight years ago, when people asked me what my biggest weakness was. I would always answer the same way – recruitment.
So I did what I always do when I want to learn something. I devour every piece of information I can read, listen to, or watch and ask people that know the subject well a lot of questions. It was the same with recruitment.
I found I was doing a few things wrong. Hopefully, I can save you from making some of the same mistakes.
No. 1. Hiring for the wrong type of experience
I always tried to hire people that have done the exact task I required from the best companies in the industry we were in. This seldom works.
What I do now:
I find people that have done a similar role, often at a lower level, who are extremely motivated to take the step up. Identifying what skills and personality type will work best for the role is more important than experience. For example, when hiring a CMO look for data analysis more than creativity and for a sales leader identify those who value the team more than just results.
Recruitment is not just about hiring the right person. It’s hiring the right person at the right time in their career.
No. 2. Hiring the ‘ivory tower’ manager
Hiring accomplished, intelligent people that have worked at big and successful companies can be alluring but it is difficult to find someone with that profile that is ready to get their hands dirty.
What I do now:
I look for people that have the right skills and some experience but most importantly, I find someone suited to the business’s size and what I expect from the role. For instance, Head of HR roles can vary hugely from company to company. In some companies, it is a very senior role with a large team that has systems and processes in place and levels of management underneath them. In smaller companies, it is likely the first HR hire where they must build out all the processes, select and implement software and create manuals, agreements, and handbooks. That requires a very different person.
No. 3. Hiring the wrong persona
Just because someone has done a similar role, it doesn’t mean they are the right persona for the role you are offering.
What I do now:
I deeply consider the skill set, personality, drive and compassion required for each role and hire first for attitude and then for skill and experience. That doesn’t mean you can hire a bricklayer with a good attitude to be your CFO. You need similar relevant experience.
For example, in B2B sales, companies may look for people that have sold the same product or that come from the industry. That is not always the correct persona.
In a previous role, we quickly identified that the persona that would work best for our business was someone that had first been in our client’s industry, went on to sell something into that industry and had a passion for it. It didn’t need to be the same product or even a similar product and it worked a treat.
Using this methodology, someone selling software to mortgage brokers would have been a mortgage broker first and then potentially a BDM for a bank. Selling software would not be a prerequisite in this instance, but you would qualify them by ensuring they were tech savvy and had a passion for the industry.
No. 4. I didn’t really have a clear process
I had templates and followed a process, but really, I was using my confirmation bias to skim over the bad and focus on the good. Often, I spoke too much and did not listen enough because I didn’t know the right questions to ask.
What I do now:
I have a very clear and systemised process which I don’t waver from and I make sure to listen intently and look for signs on why they wouldn’t suit the business not just why they would.
If you would like me to go through my full recruitment process in next week’s blog, let me know in the comments and I would be happy to share.
Importantly, none of the mistakes I made were the fault of the employee. If an employee does not work out, I see that as a personal failure. I failed them by hiring them into a role they weren’t suited to.
I feel a massive responsibility when recruiting. Hiring the right people not only creates a better business, with a great culture and more productivity but by not hiring the wrong person you save them from taking a backward step in their career and potentially being left without a job.
I now consider recruitment one of my greatest strengths. I have hired some fantastic people over the last 7 or so years and got very few hires wrong. People I can demand a lot from (in a consultative way and I always demand more of myself) and still get along with great.
If you have worked for me in the past, let me know what you liked best or worst about my recruitment process in the comments.