I write a lot about the silliness of the recruiting practices used by most companies. I contend most are the product of misinformation, myths and misguidance. As part of a major book project I contacted one of the preeminent labor attorneys in the U.S. – David Goldstein of Littler Mendelson – to provide a fresh perspective around using Performance-based Hiring as a means to attract stronger talent. Here’s a video and whitepaper summarizing his views. Following is my interpretation.

Challenges are More Objective than Skills

First, there is no legal requirement to list skills and experiences as part of any job description. Any objective criteria is sufficient. For example, “Implement the new international consolidated financial reporting system on SAP under IFRS 10 by Q3,” is as objective as, “Must have a CPA with at least 5-8 years of international experience, strong communication skills and a results-driven attitude.” The legal compliance excuse is actually just an excuse for not clarifying job expectations upfront. More important, if the person can do the work he/she has all of the skills necessary.

Forget the Laundry Lists of “Must-Have” Requirements

Second, there is no legal requirement to list every skill, behavior and competency in your job descriptions. The reality is that few people hired have all the requirements listed and 100% of the people promoted into these positions have even less. That’s the definition of a promotion. So while the “must-haves” might be objective, they are also subjective. And since they’re subjective they also open the doors to discriminatory hiring practices.

Don’t be Boring

Third, there is no legal requirement to post your internal job descriptions. Nor is there a legal requirement to be boring. A compelling title, a meaningful employee value proposition and a short list of the performance objectives is all that’s required to create a job description that will attract people who are excited about the work and its importance.

Redesign the Apply Button

Fourth, there is no legal requirement that people be driven to the apply button as the first step in your application process. You are actually allowed to talk with potential candidates on an exploratory basis before you have a formal requisition opened. You don’t need to keep track of these conversations for reporting purposes, either. This is how you can build a pool of prospects and followers.

Have Candidates Self-select Before Applying

Fifth, you can define your hiring process any way you want. You do not need to follow the dictates of your ATS system. Once a candidate voluntarily opts out of your process there is no need to consider the person for reporting purposes. This allows for a different multi-step process that begins with an informal discussion or other interim step before the person is considered an applicant. For example, for an open requisition you can ask all candidates to submit a two paragraph write-up of a major accomplishment related to an actual job need as part of your process. Candidates who don’t respond are not considered part of the reporting pool. More important, this two-step process allows candidates to self-select in or out and typically only the strongest candidates will actually read the job ad and respond.

Combine Similar Jobs into One Posting

Given all of this, there is also no need to post every single job individually. Instead, it’s far better to combine similar jobs by function, e.g., all mid-level marketing spots or all sales positions or all AI-oriented software positions. As long as some of he typical projects are highlighted, interested candidates can then respond with a short write-up describing their most significant related accomplishment. Those with the most relevant accomplishments can then be contacted about a position that best fits their current level of ability and offers the best career opportunity. Right now the mix and matching is done on the subjective criteria too many HR people wrongly believe they’re legally required to use.

Use the Most Important Recruiting Tool More Often

As part of a post last week I suggested the recruiting industry is facing an existential threat from the telephone. The idea is that hiring managers can contact candidates directly about a job before the requisition is opened and not get into legal trouble. However, when a misunderstanding of the law becomes the law, faulty legal compliance becomes the hiring strategy rather than hiring the best.