I’m still amazed that many companies are still in the dark ages when it comes to hiring. Your company qualifies for this categorization if you still post skills-laden job descriptions and use generic boilerplate for employer branding. Since these only appeal to those who are actively seeking employment, you’ll turnoff anyone who might be open to a career change. But things could be worse. To determine if your company is historic or futuristic on the hiring front give yourself a yes-no-sometimes ranking on the following 10 factors.

These are the common hiring roadblocks some HR leaders still insist on using. If you get mostly yeses you’re stuck in the 70s and 80s regarding best practices. If you get mostly no’s you deserve to be presenting your state-of-the-art hiring process at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect 2015.

  1. You still post job descriptions emphasizing skills, experience, educational requirements and generic competencies. In the 70s and 80s job postings were used to weed out the weak. In the talent scarcity world of 2015 and beyond, job postings and emails need to be used to attract the best. Here’s a wacky one that not only demonstrates the point, but also worked.
  2. You still use behavioral interviewing to assess top talent. Behavioral interviewing was designed to add structure to an interview and minimize mistakes. Statistically, this is the only benefit. It is counter-productive for raising the talent bar, recruiting and assessing top passive candidates and for executive-level hiring. In these cases Performance-based Interviewing is preferred since it’s based on a two-way professional business discussion about real job needs.
  3. You believe employer branding is important for attracting the best experienced professional passive candidates. Employer branding is fine for high volume hiring but not appropriate for filling critical positions. In these cases, your recruitment messages need to be customized to appeal to people who will raise the talent bar, not those who aspire to be part of a big machine. Job branding allows you to tie the job to an important company initiative.
  4. Neither your recruiters nor your hiring managers understand real job needs. Clarifying expectations up front has been shown to be the key to attracting and managing top performers. If your recruiters don’t understand real job needs, they won’t be able to engage or attract a single top active or passive candidate. If hiring managers don’t know them, they won’t be able to assess or hire the few that do show up.
  5. Neither your recruiters nor hiring managers know how to recruit top active and passive candidates. Recruiting, assessing and hiring someone who’s not looking for a job is a high-touch advanced selling skill that few recruiters or hiring managers have mastered. If true at your company, consider how many great people you haven't even had a chance to meet or hire.
  6. Your recruiting department spends too much time posting boring jobs and screening resumes. By any measure, somewhere between 80-90% of all candidates for critical, high demand positions are passive candidates. If your recruiting department is spending more than 20% of its time posting jobs to fill these positions, it’s the reason you’re not seeing more top performers.
  7. Your employee referral program is based on finding active candidates for open jobs. LinkedIn allows corporate recruiters to search on their first degree connections’ connections. This capability is lost if your company’s employees are not proactively networking and linking with their best previous co-workers. In this case, your recruiters are only getting referrals for those who are actively looking.
  8. Your workforce plan is basic, reactive or non-existent. If you’re not forecasting your hiring needs on a rolling basis at least 3-6 months out, you’re going to have to settle on hiring the best person who applies, not the best person available. Reacting to changing hiring needs doesn’t work when it comes to hiring people who need more time to be found, nurtured and convinced your job is a career opportunity.
  9. Your idea of metrics and feedback process control ignores quality of hire and daily recruiter performance tracking. Converting scarce talent into great hires requires real-time metrics focused on yield management, productivity and quality of candidate by source. Improving a hiring process starts by knowing what works best, what doesn’t and what isn’t.
  10. Your recruiting process is transactional, not transformational. Every business leader wants to raise the talent bar, but they succumb to too many ill-founded excuses that prevent needed change. This is called the Hiring Catch-22. It’s attributed to assuming there’s a surplus of talent when there isn’t.

Hiring top people in a talent scarcity world requires recruiters who can recruit, hiring managers who can attract and hire these top people, and jobs that offer career moves, not lateral transfers. Without these three lynchpins, companies are left with a 70s style hiring program. Moving into the recent past or the soon-to-be future requires nothing more than getting more no’s than yes’s on these ten factors.


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He's also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine and BusinessInsider. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people. You can continue the conversation on LinkedIn's Essential Guide for Hiring Discussion Group.