A talent shortage during slow economic times is breeding bad choices on both sides of the hiring desk.

By Michael Beygelman
Unemployment is still lingering at historically high levels, yet market surveys suggest that nearly three out of four HR managers continue to cite shortages in high quality talent as the top issue that their organizations face. Given these data points one would think that employers and employees would happily agree on new work arrangements but recent research suggests differently. One thing that both employers and employees do seem to agree on is that both sides appear to be making some bad decisions—employees accepting new jobs that they are unhappy with, and employers hiring people who do not work out.
According to a study by the assessment firm Development Dimensions International (DDI), nearly half of the people surveyed who recently accepted a new job are experiencing a sort-of buyer’s remorse. This is in addition to nearly one in eight new employees having proved to be a bad hire for their employer within the first 12 months of their employment. While there are many perspectives as to what could be fueling this concerning trend of bad hiring and job selection decisions, we will focus on a select few: overdependence on such process-based metrics as time-to-fill and time-to-submit to measure effectiveness of the recruitment process; overreliance on hiring manger evaluations; and companies not providing realistic job descriptions or candidates overselling their abilities.
In our metrics-driven world, too much emphasis has been placed on metrics such as time-to-fill and time-to-submit. This is not to say that metrics are unimportant, but with nearly 80 percent of HR managers reporting that time-to-fill is the single most important recruitment process metric, we can wonder if recruitment departments are rushing the process in order to meet their internal service level agreements (SLAs). If a recruitment department is being measured on time-to-fill and time-to-submit, you can bet that it is not developing the best possible slate of candidates, but that rather it is developing the best possible slate that is compliant with its SLAs. Of course the hiring mangers can only select from this pool, therefore potentially better candidates are not even being considered. This is a perfect example of how metrics can unintentionally incentivize the wrong behavior.
Hiring mangers who are desperately seeking talent under tight deadlines might have a tendency to “fall in love” with what they might deem a “perfect candidate,” and might even go as far as to not accurately represent the job. This might also cause them to overlook the all-important soft skills—the cultural and behavioral skills of any specific candidate—in favor of strong technical skills. The process might culminate in a hiring manager providing an overly optimistic candidate evaluation that can lead to a bad hire.
While the salesmen in each one of us wants to convince the ideal candidate to take a job offer, data suggests that this is a bad idea. Realistic job previews have been directly linked to better engagement and quality of hire. They help new hires be more engaged and less likely to look for another job. Nearly 90 percent of candidates who had realistic job previews said that this helped with their decision process in accepting a job offer, and coincidentally nearly 90 percent of recent hires who had realistic job previews were rated as very engaged employees. New media and job family branding might be effective investment opportunities for organizations that struggle in this area, and could also help these organizations avoid costly bad hiring decisions.
Candidates overselling their abilities is not a new problem, but with unemployment sitting at nearly twice historic levels this challenge is doubly compounded. It is once again compounded by organizations desperately seeking top talent, which creates a perfect storm for desperate job seekers and overzealous hiring managers. A myriad of non-biased assessment instruments exist to help alleviate this situation, but most companies have been slow to adopt them, and even adopters rarely test their effectiveness. Only 40 percent of companies citing that their pre-employment assessment instruments were correlated to good hires evidence this. We live in the world of quick fixes and are therefore susceptible to the allure of off-the-shelf assessment instrument, but data shows that candidates overselling their abilities to hiring mangers and hiring managers overlying on their personal evaluations mitigates the value of untested assessment instruments.
Bad hiring decisions and poor job selection choices exacerbates economic issues our society is trying to solve. Instead of permanently filling critical roles, companies are spending time and money only to have to fill the same roles again, and instead of landing long-term jobs to cure our nation’s unemployment ills, one out of eight workers goes right back on the job market. It’s time for HR leaders to address these issues more holistically.
Michael Beygelman is RPO president at Pontoon. He can be reached at michael.beygelman@pontoonsolutions.com.


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