“Our recruiting process is broken”. I’m hearing this more and more from Talent Leaders lately.

It’s usually a comment made made out of frustration. Many companies execute most of the recruiting process very well, yet nearly all employers have at least some glaring deficiencies.

Here are 6 parts of the recruiting process to examine to see if your process is broken.

Active Candidates

What’s the job application process like for your candidates?

Talent Leaders are often frustrated about online interactions with active candidates. The job descriptions are awful. The apply process is ridiculous. Their site is not optimized for mobile. And it takes too long for their recruiters to follow-up with candidates, if at all.

This experience is not out of the ordinary. And the sad part is that active candidates have come to expect it. Instead of focusing on “candidate experience”, companies have been caught up in the “time to fill” trap. They’ve connected revenue and profit to how many employee seats are filled. This can be bad for business.

Andrew Carges from GoDaddy recommends (and I agree) that we move on from time to fill and instead focus on “time to hire“. If you’re worried about the journey for your active candidates, you’ll want to read up on time to hire.

Focusing on the specifics of the active candidate application process will help your employer brand, as well as your ability to close top candidates.

Passive Candidates

How robust is your candidate pipeline?

Dozens of Talent Leaders have detailed how they want to engage in more proactive recruiting in their recruiting process. It’s common knowledge that the best candidates are likely working and happy. However, those candidates could be open to hearing about the right opportunity at the right time. That’s why we see statistics such as 70% of people are willing to listen to a potential job offer.

But how does an enterprise organization (or SMB for that matter) build and manage a fresh pipeline? The two biggest obstacles I hear about are time and focus. Talent Leaders often explain that they’ve got recruiters carrying 25-50 job openings at a time. Their recruiters have hundreds of resumes to eyeball each week. They’ve got a dozen or more phone interviews to conduct. And they have to work with hiring managers on keeping active candidates moving through the recruiting process.

The answer to building a robust candidate pipeline is that it’s not easy and it takes a concerted effort. A great example of this is Bryce Murray and his team at Red Bull. They’ve set out to systematically identify candidates who could potentially be a match for their company. They then reach out to begin building relationships with these candidates (they do very little job board advertising by the way). It may take a week, a month, or years. But this level of being proactive is what it takes to fix this part of your recruiting process.

Hiring Managers

How involved are your hiring managers in the recruiting process?

Hiring managers are the single biggest influence on your ability to close top candidates, as well as lose them. Hiring managers who get recruiting will promote their jobs on social networks. They will get their team to refer good candidates, and spread the word. They are accessible to candidates and the recruiting team. They are decisive about what they are looking for in a successful candidate. They are convincing in getting top candidates to take the job.

Those are the types of hiring managers that recruiters love to partner with.

However, the fact is that most hiring managers aren’t putting all of these pieces together, and that’s okay. The recruiting team still has to play a role in guiding the hiring manager on when and where they are needed the most. A lack of communication cannot be pointed in one direction only.  It’s a two-way street.

An interesting approach to get hiring managers more involved in the recruiting process is to activate them as brand ambassadors. Andrew Levy at Autodesk is working to put his hiring managers front and center in communicating with candidates. It’s a great approach, and it isn’t as hard to scale as you might think with the technology available.

And the biggest impact is with candidates. They’re used to being told by a recruiter what the team, culture, and work are like. With Autodesk’s approach, candidates can now see and hear it for themselves in a quarter of the time. And whenever it is convenient.

Recruiting Tools

Which tools do your recruiters use the most?

For most Talent Leaders, this is an easy answer. LinkedIn is where the majority of your recruiting team’s time is spent. The company’s database has taken a backseat to the world’s database.

As a result, Talent Leaders often talk about their need to reduce their reliance on LinkedIn. The biggest obstacle to this is that their own database may not be as easy or effective to use.

The obvious example is the ATS. Time and again I hear about how difficult it is to search the ATS for candidates. The ATS is known for being dependent on recruiters keeping the information up to date, and it’s hard to accomplish this across an enterprise organization. This is a tremendous disadvantage for any company. The inability to easily search for candidates who have previously applied to your company is a gigantic waste of money.

Talent Leaders are routinely asked by their team to pay for additional sourcing tools like Entelo, Gild, Dice OpenView and TalenBin and, of course, LinkedIn. These are great tools for sure, but you’ve got to use them in building your own database and pipeline. Top Talent Leaders know this, and that’s why they see this part of the recruiting process as broken. They feel like they are stuck renting products versus building a solid foundation of their own.

The future of recruiting tools lies in user experience and integration. The days of a closed, one-size-fits-all system are numbered. Too many technologies are available to help you build your own database and pipeline of talent. And they are ready to be integrated and plugged in.

Talent Management

What’s your success rate for promoting from within?

Often times we think of the recruiting function as the attraction of new candidates to a company. However, the emergence of Talent Management reinforces the belief that you must continuously recruit your employees to retain them. The ability of a company to retain and promote its employees is an undeniable force for growing your business.

One component of Talent Management I’m hearing a lot about is “Internal Mobility”. Internal mobility is an effort to proactively source internal employees for other positions in the organization. This process is a big driver for engagement and retention. And it could also make Talent Acquisition just a little bit easier.

It’s possible that your toughest-to-fill job requirements could be filled right under your nose. That’s what some of the world’s most successful companies understand very well. A reputation for promoting from within creates interest among top college grads and less experienced prospects.

This can lessen the burden of always having to hunt specialty skills as a recruiting team, and allow you to focus on a more general group of candidates that your company can hire and groom.

One organization that stands out in this effort is ABB. Gary Earle is a Director of Talent Acquisition at ABB and he told me that over 80% of their 15K+ annual hires are the result of internal mobility. Yes, they are still going to have specialty recruiting searches to conduct. However, the talent pool of internal candidates makes the company that much stronger for the future.


Anyone within a mile of recruiting has been inundated with the term “Big Data” over the last few years. The challenge is that the term is too broad. And that makes it a challenge to apply “Big Data” to your recruiting process. And make no mistake, data is critical to the success of your recruiting organization.

One of the biggest flaws I hear about in analytics is self-reporting. Whether it is the recruiter or the candidate, there are many instances where systems depend on self-reporting. Some people may be forgetful, and others just lazy, but self-reporting analytics need to be viewed with a large margin of error. An even bigger challenge is that inaccurate decisions can be made based on self-reported analytics.

One organization that has inspired me from a recruiting analytics process is Groupon. Dustin Carper is their Head of Employer Branding, and has put together a custom reporting system via Google Analytics.

It took a bit of effort and teamwork to set up their system, but the clarity they have gained in their recruiting process has been well worth it. Dustin and his organization can now look at real, relevant data, not just “Big Data” or skewed data, to make their decisions.

Ongig is the first ever Employer Branding SaaS — it allows enterprises to create, distribute and measure interactive job descriptions at scale. American Express, Autodesk, Intel and Yelp are among the early users of the Ongig SaaS.

by in Recruiting Process

3 Responses to “Is Your Recruiting Process Broken?”

  1. Jurassic Carl

    Of course hiring managers should be involved. In fact, HR should take a back seat to this person. I subscribe to the idea that higher ups should allow hiring managers a certain percentage of their time to cultivate and pipeline prospects (network, essentially).

    I know that this sounds crazy, in an era of overworked, 60 hour a week managers, but compare this to the amount of time and money that is poured into electronic resume troughs (ATS / HR systems) and low level HR screeners who honestly don’t know the sector for which they are deeming candidates qualified or unqualified). The current system bites off more than it can chew and doesn’t even know what quality is. Keyword algorithms aren’t much better.In fact, they are awful- just read Peter Capelli’s work on this.

    Honestly, the things that used to bother me when I was looking for work wasn’t just “beating the bot” (ATS) and getting past the clueless 22 year old HR lackey and his/her trite psychometric garbage and forms, it was seeing indecision in the process. I once had seven interviews, with a total of 17 people, and did not get the job because only 16 out of 17 wanted to hire me (grapevine told me this). What I also learned through the grapevine was that no one was hired… and that indecision brought them to this. In at least a seven or eight other situations where I went through the whole hiring process, indecision was rife– no one was hired, positions were reformulated, split in two, combined, amalgamated, etc When a company is not serious about a position, they are jerking candidates around. It creates ill will/ poisons the well. As a result, have a “sh*t” list of companies I will not contract with or refer anyone else to.

    Many months later, I keep interview requests at arms length, because I keep busy enough on small consulting assignments that I get through former colleagues. I will not waste my time going though processes, because, frankly, time is money. I have standing offers of interviews, but don’t have to chase them anymore.

    The system needs to hand back some power to hiring managers because there is nothing better than ten minutes of this person talking shop with a candidate to find out if he/she knows his/her stuff. This requires cutting down on the volume of chaff accepted through online systems. Eventually, it may be the case that employers have to (gasp) resort to paying more, training, or otherwise understanding how people with transferable skills (and not just identical job titles and keywords), but only the hiring managers can really assess this.

    Although HR is really good at wasting people’s time , hiring is a weakness of HR. Don’t get me wrong– HR has its strengths in dealing with compliance, payroll, wage and benefit laws, etc. That is what it should focus on – its strengths.

    • Jason Webster

      Thanks Jurassic Carl!

      I agree with your assessment that hiring managers need to be in the driver’s seat. In fact, I talked to a hiring manager (CTO) on Friday that says he spends 40% of his time on hiring. I thought that was good progress, especially since that hiring manager is looking to grow the team by 30% over the next year.

      I appreciate you reading, and appreciate your opinion.


  2. Stephen Turnock

    Candidate Experience has been broken for some time. It began in the 90’s with the advent of the jobboards and the en mass CV, creating a culture of the transactional recruiter – one less likely to get back to a candidate and having CV’s coming out of their ears – not having time to build relationship as before. This, together with many other factors, not least the KPI cultures, again just measuring activity stats only and the onset of volume recruitment. As I speak mostly in relation to contract and temporary
    recruitment, this also extends to experience on the client side and I guess the ‘Hiring Manager’ side also, in which the
    experience has not been great for many.

    Today we surely have better tools in the box to fix these broken things but will only work with an understanding of the ‘how to’ in relation to integration of the various components. A central knowledge base owned by the business is still essential to which potentially now flows from many sources and channels. Perhaps today, a ‘Social CRM’ collecting knowledge, IP [and decisions/outcomes ] from all stakeholders too.

    For candidates who have come to expect poor experience then the good news is they can now inbound attract only the best recruiters and employers using their on-line networks and social profiles.

    Recruiters have to invest time in re connecting and engaging with the audience ahead of a staffing requirement and indeed look at ‘time to hire’ not ‘time to fill’. And what a great opportunity to build these systems and process alongside an ethos centric to candidate experience and one that is also mobile first! Carpe Diem!


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