When I wrote Hire With Your Head more than 20 years ago, I started with this image I had a friend draw. It summarized all of the existing hiring problems most companies faced at the time. The objective of the book was to solve all of the problems.

The book was obviously a failure. All of these problems still exist.

So when I was recently asked by a writer about my predictions for the future of hiring, I was somewhat cynical.

I suggested that nothing will be different.

Companies will still advertise ill-defined jobs. They'll still filter people on their level of skills and salary requirements. They'll still allow hiring managers to use their "pet" questions and personal assessment techniques. They'll still let recruiters source and recruit any way they want. They'll still let the legal department and the compensation group put up ill-advised barriers to entry. They'll still focus on efficiency and cost per hire, ignoring the idea that doing the wrong things faster is not a strategy. They'll still train hiring managers in behavioral interviewing despite the fact that there are more effective techniques available that hiring managers will actually endorse. hiring-criteria-lou-adler-groupThe senior executives will still advocate the importance of hiring talent, but they won't fund it, measure it, or make hiring managers responsible for it. And they'll still treat candidates as commodities, but they'll be nice to them since they know it will affect their Glassdoor.com reputation.

Sorry for the cynicism.

But maybe collectively that's why quality of hire has not improved in 20 years and employee disengagement has been hovering at 68 percent for the past 20 years (according to science)!

A new idea-zero-based hiring.

What about implementing zero-based hiring? This means starting over. From the beginning. With a whiteboard. Blank. With this as a starting point here are a few suggestions I'd write on the board.

  • Define the work, not the skills needed to do the work. Every job can be described by six to eight performance objectives. If a person is competent and motivated to do this work, the person will not only be successful but likely have a different mix of skills than those listed on the old-fashioned job descriptions.
  • Convert competencies and behaviors into performance objectives. Generic competencies and behaviors are poor predictors of success. It's better to describe how the competency or behavior is used on the job as a performance objective. Then add the most important to the performance-based job description above.
  • Prevent people from applying for jobs they're not qualified to handle. Too much time is spent filtering the weaker candidates out. It might be better to prevent them from entering to begin with.
  • Stop posting individual jobs. Too much time and cost is involved with job postings. It would be cheaper and more efficient to create a microsite hub for all related positions and let the system figure out the best jobs for the person.
  • Stop filtering the best people out based on what they have and what they get. There is too much time spent filtering people in and out of jobs based on their level of skills and their salary requirements. The best people care less about the salary if the job represents a career move, and the best people always have a different mix of skills. That's what makes them the best people.
  • Make hiring managers responsible for hiring top talent. If hiring top people is really No. 1, managers shouldn't be managers if they can't or don't do it. Start by putting this as No. 1 during the performance review.
  • Offer careers, not lateral transfers. A career needs to offer some combination of job stretch, faster job growth, and a mix of more satisfying work. Add a process to modify jobs to better align with a person's growth needs.
  • Go slower. Hiring top people is not a transaction. This leads to job hopping syndrome. Instead implement a consultative discovery process that focuses on creating the career move.
  • Make hiring a business process with feedback controls. A bunch of steps bolted together with duct tape and APIs controlled by data that's weeks or months old is not a business process.
  • Implement an interview and assessment process that actually predicts quality of hire. Proving a method with statistics is not the same, nor as effective, as finding the method that works all of the time through trial and error. One method that actually works is based on what the best managers who consistently hire the best people do.
  • Train recruiters to recruit. No company would let its sales people sell its products without training around best practices. This is so obvious, yet no one seems to see it.

This is a great list for jump-starting the zero-based hiring process. It's my bucket list.