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High Velocity Hiring
How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant
By Scott Wintrip
McGraw-Hill EducationCopyright © 2017 Scott Wintrip
All rights reserved.
The Emperor Has No Talent
What Causes Long Time-to-Fill?
Why does it take some companies weeks or months to fill just one job? Maybe it's the companies' reputation if they're known as bad places to work. Possibly, it's their location if they're situated in a part of town that's difficult to reach. Also, it could be an undesirable work environment, low pay, or a benefits package that's lousy. While one or more of these issues can be a factor in attracting quality candidates, most companies blame long time-to-fill on a shortage of available talent. However, available talent is not the real problem.
Some companies fill their open seats with relative ease and speed, even though there are more jobs than people to fill them. What makes these organizations truly different isn't their reputation, location, work environment, or pay and benefits. It's how they've chosen to address the talent shortage. They recognize that the old way of hiring — keeping a job open until the right person shows up — doesn't work when there's a people shortage. The leaders in these companies understand that a reactive process doesn't work, and that the old way of hiring resulted from having the wrong mindset.
Today, these leaders and their companies engage in the new way of hiring by actively cultivating top talent and then waiting for the right job to open. They've acknowledged that there's always a shortage of talent, which requires a shift in thinking and a permanent change in hiring strategy.
The Perpetual Talent Shortage
For years, the media has bombarded us with stories about the skills shortage. Not enough people have been available to manage the volumes of data being crunched by businesses. A scarcity of welders, electricians, and machinists has hampered manufacturers. Companies have struggled to fill openings for sales reps, teachers, and nurses. The talent shortage has also slowed construction of new homes.
Contrary to common belief, talent shortages even persist during economic downturns. During the Great Recession, there was still a disparity between open jobs and qualified people to fill them. An October 2008 report by CNN indicated that a "shortage of qualified workers continues to impact employers with 59 percent of hiring managers citing it as their primary recruiting challenge."
The United States wasn't the only country experiencing shortages of skilled workers in the midst of the Great Recession. Japan was running out of engineers, and Australia didn't have enough lawyers. The automotive industry listed the lack of skilled talent as its biggest business concern in both India and China. In the United Kingdom, there was a shortage of sheep shearers.
The talent deficit isn't only real; it's pervasive across all industries. Having been involved in hiring for three decades, I've watched companies struggle to fill open jobs in good times and bad. These struggles aren't limited to small or obscure companies. The biggest, most resourceful corporations experience major recruiting challenges. That's one reason why nearly all of the Fortune 500 has relied on outside agencies to procure workers. Contingent workers on temporary and contract assignments made up 18 percent of the workforce in large companies in 2015.
While technology has improved some aspects of hiring, it hasn't eliminated open jobs and lengthy hiring delays. The Internet, in particular, has leveled the playing field. Your company and all of your competitors can reach out to top talent. Candidates also have easier access to you. They often apply for lots of jobs, including ones for which they're ill suited. This creates a flood of resumes, many of which won't fit your needs. A robust recruiting effort, such as this, used to be available only to large organizations; now small companies can mount a campaign that steers more candidates their way. Highly qualified candidates have many choices, including the option of doing their own thing by joining the "gig economy" as freelancers. Technology has actually magnified the skills shortage, straining a talent pool that is nearly tapped out.
The problem isn't people. There have never been enough qualified candidates to go around. That's a fact that isn't going to change. Ongoing innovations will constantly create a vacuum for new skills. The Internet's availability as a hiring tool will continue to expand, creating increased demand for the finite supply of talent. People will gain more options for how they choose to work, further diminishing the availability of candidates for full-time jobs. As globalization increases, borders will matter less, creating a talent competition unlike anything we've seen before.
The real problem is process. Most companies keep a job open until the right person shows up. These companies are stuck in the old way. It's not that they don't want to hire differently; it's that they don't know how.
The Damaging Impact of the Scarcity Mindset
Yes, the shortage of talent makes hiring difficult, especially when you engage in the old way of hiring. If you're like most leaders, you want to hire differently. However, it's hard to think your way out of this problem. Especially when you're facing odds that appear insurmountable.
Watch almost any sport and you'll easily see the impact of a negative mindset. When one team racks up goal after goal, the other team loses steam. The bigger the scoring gap, the harder it becomes for the losing team to compete. As the winning club dominates, the other side forgets their plays and makes mistakes. The players on the losing team can't seem to keep their heads in the game.
Mindset matters a lot. A scoreboard, whether it's tracking results in sports or monitoring hiring statistics in corporate life, can trigger negative thinking. Add to this persistent bad news, such as all of the ongoing press coverage of skills shortages, and it's normal that you'd be concerned, even fearful, about your prospects of finding the talented people you need for your jobs. These negative emotions not only make work stressful, they actually undermine your resourcefulness.
In her research on emotions and positive psychology, Barbara Fredrickson found that positive emotions lead to more expansive and creative behavior. Fredrickson's work has demonstrated that "people's daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources." Negative emotions, in turn, limit resourcefulness.
In field experiments, Fredrickson documented evidence that demonstrates that positive emotions place people on trajectories of growth. Called the "broaden-and-build" theory, these trajectories build resourcefulness in areas including pathways thinking (believing that goals can be attained by one's own resources), environmental mastery (the sense that we are able to have an influence on the events in our lives), and ego-resilience (the ability to adapt to different situations and respond accordingly).
That's why the hyperfocus on a shortage of skills is so problematic. The ongoing negative press paints a dark picture that is continually reinforced by the numbers. While all of the news and numbers are meant to inform, there's an unfortunate side-effect: They wear you down. Bad news and numbers engender negative emotions, draining your resourcefulness. Instead of being on a trajectory of growth, you get stuck, often feeling powerless to effect lasting change. Rather than seeing goals as opportunities that can be attained by your own resources, goals can appear to be unattainable or unrealistic. And forget about being able to adapt to different situations, especially when everything, including the numbers, seems stacked against you. How many times have we been told that the numbers don't lie?
Over the past three decades, I've witnessed firsthand the increasingly debilitating effects of the skills shortages. Smart leaders who previously had demonstrated incredible acumen at problem-solving were suddenly stuck, unable to solve this hiring conundrum. Organizations that, for years, were able to attract droves of job candidates based upon reputation alone were now experiencing a mere trickle of talented people. Professional recruiters in corporations and outside agencies have also been impacted, as they've tried to fill what seems like an ever-increasing number of jobs with a perpetually decreasing pool of people.
Sound familiar? You've likely experienced one or more of these negative impacts of the skills shortage. That's the problem with scarcity. Shortfalls of talent make recruiting a challenge for everyone. Adding to this challenge are the damaging impacts that talent scarcity has on your psyche. Believing that the odds are stacked against you makes it difficult to solve a problem. This has certainly been the case with jobs that are especially hard to fill.
Numbers Don't Lie
Finding good software developers can be difficult. If you're in San Jose, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, it may seem impossible. Especially when you look at the numbers. From September 2015 through February 2016, there were 54,250 open software developer jobs in San Jose. Compare that to the active supply of candidates available to fill those jobs — just 4,408.
Two of the companies competing for these software developers have been battling over talent for decades. The larger of the two is a well-known technology company with thousands of employees. Having a reputation for developing high-quality products, the company gets great press for its innovative approaches. On Glassdoor.com, a job and recruiting site with millions of employer reviews, people give the company high marks. Positive comments praise the corporate environment and engaging work, the talented colleagues whom the company hires, and their easily accessible location. Having a great story to tell, the talent acquisition department employs numerous methods for drawing in potential new hires, including formalized referral programs, postings on job boards, a robust website to draw in applicants, and live and virtual open houses.
The other company is smaller in size, isn't as well known and, as a result, gets less press coverage — much less. Their products receive decent reviews; some people like them while others do not. Comments on Glassdoor offer faint praise for the work environment and numerous complaints about the location of the facility and the lack of advancement opportunities. Their talent acquisition team, if you can really call it that, comprises the staff in HR, who also perform all of the other tasks you might expect of a human resources department, including onboarding new hires, managing benefits, and processing endless piles of employee paperwork. Like the larger firm, they use multiple methods for drawing in talent, including job boards, referral generation, their own website, and a few open houses each year. However, the smaller size of their HR team limits the time they can devote to these tools.
It's reasonable to expect that the larger company would have more success in recruiting talented candidates. Their all-around better circumstances should provide the means and the motivation to do better. The talent acquisition team can take great pride in sharing their story as they leverage the wealth of recruiting resources at their disposal.
It's also reasonable to expect that the smaller firm would always be one step behind, scrambling to grab second-or third-tier leftover talent. However, that's not the case. Like a short, nerdy kid who surprises everyone when he knocks down a bully, the smaller firm has been winning the talent battle, beating the bigger company year after year. Why? Because their leaders treat the skills shortage as though it were a myth.
Numbers Don't Lie, but Do Deceive
"As far as our leadership team is concerned, there isn't a talent shortage," said Donald, CEO of the smaller technology firm. "In fact, we've made saying the words 'skills shortage' or any other phrase that implies that idea a fire-able offense." Things weren't always like this at Donald's company, where's he's served as the CEO for a decade.
In 2005, the company was experiencing what they termed a "talent crisis of epic proportions." According to Donald, "Our flow of viable candidates had decreased substantially. When our team had people to interview, those interviews took too long and weren't all that effective. We had too many open jobs and not enough people to fill them."
The company had experimented with a variety of solutions. These included a yearlong stint with a Vendor Management System (an Internet-based solution for businesses to manage and procure staffing services), incorporating Topgrading (a corporate hiring and interviewing methodology), and a brief experiment with Recruitment Process Outsourcing (the employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider). While these different initiatives helped the company fill some jobs somewhat faster, overall time-to-fill continued to increase. "It's not that any of these methods were wrong or bad," said Donald. "They just weren't solving our persistent hiring problems."
I first met Donald at a conference I keynoted. Following my speech, he asked to meet in the hotel bar to discuss how I might help his company. Drink in hand, Donald vented his frustration about the talent shortage and how it was hampering their efforts to fill open seats and reduce time-to-fill. According to him, their competitors, especially bigger companies, were "snapping up all of the good software developers." Walking me through the litany of solutions they had tried, he was openly incredulous that I had somehow created a different method that allowed companies to fill jobs in an instant. "Look," he told me, "it was a nice speech, but I just can't believe it's that easy."
Having heard this many times before, I simply smiled, acknowledging that Donald was not alone in his doubts. Then, I asked him, "Donald whose jobs is your company trying to fill?" Looking at me as if I'd lost my mind, he said with a tinge of sarcasm, "Seriously? Do I have to answer that? Of course we're focused on ours." I replied, "Then why are you so concerned about everyone else's too?" Donald immediately started to respond, but pulled up short. I could almost see his mental wheels turning.
Like many leaders, Donald and his team were overly focused on the numbers, especially that there were more jobs than skilled people to fill them. However, their company isn't trying to fill all of those jobs, just their own. That's why my question created his pause — he, like most leaders, hadn't looked at the numbers in that context.
After nearly a minute of silence, Donald talked through an epiphany. "You know what, you're right. Our leadership team, myself included, has spent too long and has been too focused on skills shortages. Yes, mathematically speaking, there are more jobs than people. But, those numbers are deceiving. Our leadership team has always been great at solving problems when we get out of the problem and into solutions. That's how you've helped companies implement a process that let's them fill jobs in an instant, isn't it, Scott? We simply need a strategy that allows us to fill our jobs the moment they open."
A shift in thinking is the first step you need to take to hire faster, which was certainly the case for Donald and his team. After hiring me as their advisor, our conversations focused on solving their specific hiring challenges (versus staying stuck in the problem, blaming the talent shortage for their woes). Donald's first directive was to ban conversations about skills or talent shortages, focusing everyone instead on how their company was going to be an exception to the negative statistics. Together, we created a plan that allowed the company to fill their software developer openings in an instant. From there, we expanded the process to include additional jobs as the HR department and hiring managers got better at executing the plan.
As momentum increased, we could see Fredrickson's broaden-and-build theory in action. Everyone involved in hiring was becoming visibly resourceful, believing they had enough resources to hire quickly and accurately. As the initiative progressed, both hiring managers and the HR team adapted to changing circumstances, learning from those situations versus being a victim of them. This trajectory of growth and success made their smaller size and limited resources irrelevant. Their time-to-fill plummeted while that of other companies, including that bigger competitor, continued to climb. In less than a year, they turned their talent crisis of epic proportions into a talent surplus.
Looking back at their progress, Donald acknowledged that there really was a shortage. "For too long, we allowed all the reports on talent shortages to consume us, instead of just inform us. But not anymore. Our team has proven there is sufficient talent as long as we follow our process to attract and hire the best people. We discovered the real shortage wasn't talent. What we lacked was a process that focused our mindset and efforts."
Excerpted from High Velocity Hiring by Scott Wintrip. Copyright © 2017 Scott Wintrip. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Why Hiring Is Broken 1
Chapter 1 The Emperor Has No Talent: What Causes Long Time-to-Fill? 11
Chapter 2 The Talent Accelerator Process: Apply the Principles of the On-Demand Economy to Fill Jobs in an Instant 29
Chapter 3 Step #1-Create Hire-Right Profiles: Design Blueprints Detailing Who's Right for a Job 51
Chapter 4 Step #2-Improve Candidate Gravity: Generate a Continuous Flow of Qualify Candidates 71
Chapter 5 Step #3-Maximize Hiring Styles: Leverage Perception to Counter Hiring Blindness and Support Accurate Employee Selection 93
Chapter 6 Step #4-Conduct Experiential Interviews: Employ Better Selection Methods to Improve Precision and Speed 105
Chapter 7 Step #5-Maintain a Talent Inventory: Create a Pool of People Ready to Hire 127
Chapter 8 Step #0-Keep the TAP Flowing: Ensure Hiring Can Always Be Done in an Instant 151
Chapter 9 Lean Recruiting: Deploy Automation to Enhance the Efficiency of Your TAP 171
Chapter 10 Engage Talent Scouts: Create Lasting Partnerships Between Organizations and Staffing Providers 195
Chapter 11 Durable Diversity: Maintain a Dependable Workforce of Complementary People 219
Conclusion: A Rising Tide of Talent 241
Appendix A Internet Links 245
Appendix B Recommended Assets for Hire-Right Profiles 246
Appendix C Resources for Finding Staffing Providers 251
Appendix D Diversity and Inclusion Resources 256
About the Author 273