Retargeting is a Great Technique for Hiring the Right People

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Hiring stronger people more efficiently starts by redefining "qualified" and focusing on attracting the best, not weeding out the weak.

I make the contention that companies spend too much time weeding out candidates they're not going to hire rather than attracting those they should. The graph, "Target Candidate Population," pretty much explains it all, although it does require some explanation.

While an approximation, the first two bars in the graph indicate that for every qualified person who applies to a job posting, there are roughly 20 unqualified people who also apply. In this case, qualified is determined by the person's SKACs--Skills, Knowledge, Ability and Cultural fit. Whether this is the best way to determine "qualified" will be questioned in a moment, it's quickly apparent that a great deal of effort is required to first separate the two groups and then invest time in managing the process of saying "no" to those who aren't hired. The problem is magnified since some companies receive 200-500 resumes for any one opening.

Since there are rarely enough qualified candidates who apply, recruiters search through resume databases and LinkedIn profiles to develop target lists of those who didn't apply but who meet the SKAC requirements. Emails are sent to these people in the hope that some become interested. This effort is represented by the third bar in the graph. Collectively these efforts to find SKAC-qualified candidates is comparable to panning for gold--a lot of work with minimal results. About 2-3 out of every 20 express some interest, and a recruiter is lucky if one is qualified, interested and agrees to apply.

While these two steps require a lot of effort for minimal results, companies focus more on improving the efficiency of the process, rather than throwing the whole thing out and rethinking everything. The answer to this rethinking lies in the fourth column in the graph. This is retargeting.

Use Retargeting and Rethinking to Hire Truly Qualified Candidates

This fourth column represents all of the people who actually are competent and motivated to do the work but have a different mix of SKACs. This pool includes all high-potential people, all diverse candidates, anyone with a non-traditional background, those reentering the workforce and military veterans. However, finding, recruiting and hiring these people requires a total redesign of the existing process along these three major dimensions:

  • Performance rather than SKAC matching
  • A recruitment marketing emphasis on attracting in rather than weeding out
  • Recruiting and closing people emphasizing career growth over compensation maximization

Emphasize Performance Qualified Rather than SKAC Qualified

There are many talented people who never get considered due to the arbitrary nature of using SKACs as the initial filter. For example, having 10+ years of supply chain experience with a strong background in SAP ERP 7.0.1 or later, strong communication skills and an MBA is not the same as, "Within 9 months rebuild the international logistics system for three recently acquired warehousing and distribution facilities in Asia." If someone has done comparable work in a comparable situation using comparable systems, he or she has all of the SKACs necessary. It's what a person has done with his or her SKACs that should be measured, not the SKACs themselves. Every job can be represented by 6-8 performance objectives like the example. I refer to these as performance-based job descriptions. Preparing them is the first step in broadening the candidate pool to more fully-qualified and talented people.

Attract and Recruit Rather than Post and Weed Out

There is no legal requirement to post SKAC-laden job descriptions nor is there any advantage in doing so, according to Dave Goldstein, a top labor attorney with Littler Mendelson, a top labor law firm. Here's the full whitepaper David prepared validating the Performance-based Hiring methodology described in The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired. The big message is that job postings should be used to describe what the person in the role will do and learn and could become if successful. This email is an example of how to use this performance-based attracting approach.

Focus on Career Growth Rather than Compensation Maximization

Most people will consider career growth in balance with compensation increases once they have enough information to make the assessment. Unfortunately, recruiters and candidates alike short-circuit the information sharing before it ever gets started by filtering on what the person wants compensation-wise and box-checking his or her SKACs, not what the person has accomplished. The use of performance-based job descriptions allows for a different recruiting strategy by proving the career growth option. The idea is to demonstrate that the short- and long-term gap between what the person will be doing is significantly greater than what the person is now doing and has done.

It's hard to even consider retargeting and rethinking the hiring process from a different perspective given the large investment companies have already made in processes, training and technology. But when considered from a quality of hire, ROI and cost vs. benefits approach, it's even harder not to.