Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

What Are People Who Are Hiring Looking For?

job-application-thequintessentialleaderMany job applicants wonder why they never hear anything back from the job sites where they apply for so many jobs. You may be one of those who have submitted seemingly hundreds of job applications and never even got a nibble of interest. As a leader, I’m on the other side of those job applications, and I’ll give you some tangible reasons why and some guidance on what to do about it.

Your job is looking for employment, so you need to treat it the same way you would an actual job. Sloppiness, irrelevance, and slap-happy work habits will ensure you won’t be employed for long. The same applies to how you seek employment.


Organizational Culture All organizations have two cultures.

One is the public-facing culture. This is the culture embodied by all the organization’s external communications, the motivational mantras plastered everywhere throughout their brick-and-mortar structures, and the one they present to potential customers and employees.

These are the organization’s stated values. (more…)

Modern Hiring ProcessThere are a gazillion fancy catch phrases in the Human Resources world-that-exists-unto-itself that describe the hiring process. Talent Aquisition is my least favorite (as if people are inanimate commodities that are bought from or sold to the lowest bidder – although that can seem like the crux of a modern employment search).

But in the end, the process is still, despite all the automated keyword vetting that allows the cream of the crop to get overlooked because some programmer (who doesn’t know anything but coding) is doing the vetting instead of a live human being, essentially to find a person to fill a position.

But today’s hiring process is a mess. So many extraneous and nonsensical layers have been built into the hiring process that the actual person hiring and the actual person they should be hiring have less of a chance to connect in person with each other than we do of seeing Halley’s Comet again in our lifetime. 

This is unquintessential leadership on steroids. Whatever “genius” thought this was a good idea was clueless about teams, team-building, and quintessential leadership. 

By taking the control of the process out of the hands of the people directly responsible for building teams, the current hiring methodology limits (and eliminates) viable – and, in some cases, the best – choices that would be considered without all the filtering layers now in place.

And, yet, because unquintessential leadership is the norm in most organizations, the very people who have built this Frankenstein of a system complain loudly and frequently about how hard it is to find good candidates and qualified candidates to fill their open positions.

The reality is those candidates exist, but the hiring process in its current iteration makes it next to impossible to find them. 


Because instead of depending, as quintessential leaders do, on their own eyes, their own ears, their own evaluation skills, and on their own intuition to spot strong soft skills and a good fit for existing teams, these unquintessential leaders have outsourced the most important function of building an organization to programmers, recruiting mills, and generic Human Resources departments, instead of doing this essential work, start to finish, themselves.

They don’t realize, to their detriment, that while you can quantify many aspects of organization-building – and, therefore, relegate it to people who don’t know anything about it, but can follow an if-then-else logic sequence that’s defined for them – you can’t quantify people.

And most organizations have forgotten that their most valuable resources are people: living, breathing, thinking, creating humans with personalities, skills, talents, strengths and potential that can’t be assessed or utilized without a direct human-to-human relationship.

Let’s look at the current hiring process and see why it exemplifies unquintessential leadership.

Major Online Job BoardsThe hiring process usually starts with digital job boards.

Most of the job boards, frankly, are a joke, even if a job-seeker uses keywords and date filters. Monster is the worst at just throwing out the most random and irrelevant search results you can imagine, no matter what parameters it’s given. Careerbuilder isn’t much better. Dice is pretty iffy as well. And LinkedIn ranks in the bottom of the tier as well. 

Indeed is probably the best of the job boards, but their search results aren’t all that great either. And it’s always a bit disconcerting to see job titles that spell “Manager” as “Manger” and other similar typos.

Once a prospective candidate has what has to pass for maybe-related search results, then the online application begins.

Alice Cooper did a song called “Welcome to My Nightmare.” Job applicants should consider playing this on an endless loop while they are applying for jobs, because this part is a nightmare.

It’s important to remember that this process happens with every single job that an applicant applies for. It is enough to make the most sane among us go stark-raving mad.

There is no standard for digital employment applications.

Almost all of them require setting up an account and creating a password just to get into the application. 

While most systems ask the applicant to upload a resume, almost none of the systems automatically populate the application form with the information on the resume. The applicant has to manually fill in everything.

Some systems have twenty or more screens to go through to actually complete an application for submission. Some retain the application information and some require an applicant to re-enter everything all over again for each new job being applied for. 

When the job applicant finally gets through this process and actually submits an application, then they wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. 

Apparently most job applications go to Never Never Land, because applicants don’t hear anything ever on 99% of them.

The 1% that job applicants do hear back on take various forms and are as infinitely frustrating as the 99% that they don’t hear anything back on.

The 1% shakes out like this:

  1. Immediate autobot email that says Human Resources has carefully reviewed the applicant’s qualifications, and while they’re impressive, Human Resources has decided to pursue other more qualified candidates. In other words, our program glanced at your stuff and decided you suck.
  2. For the most part, if a recruiter calls, it is a shiny-happy recruiter (remember, they get paid for every applicant they place) that calls and chats Recruiter Processfor 30 minutes with the applicant and promises to get back to them. Applicants will grow old waiting for that next phone call.
  3. In rare cases, a serious recruiter will call, then Skype, and then tell the applicant they will get their paperwork to the person hiring and will be in touch with the applicant when they hear something back. This ends up, for the most part, being another situation in which the applicant will grow old waiting for the return phone call.
  4. Even more rare, somebody at the hiring company will email the applicant with a one-line question, like “Are you willing to relocate?” or “What are your salary requirements?” Apparently, when the applicant responds their responses go to some sort of email dead zone, because that’s the last the applicant hears about the position.
  5. And in the rarest of cases, after the applicant jumps through a myriad of convoluted hoops, they finally get an interview with the hiring company.

The unquintessential leadership continues into the interview process, in most cases. As I’ve discussed before most people hiring aren’t exactly sure what they are hiring for. These are the same people who end up interviewing for a position they’re nebulous on themselves.

Once in a blue moon, the interviewer is a quintessential leader and the process works. However, blue moons are rare and so are interviewers who are quintessential leaders.

Generally, these unquintessential leaders can’t communicate well or effectively.

Poor Interviewing SkillsInstead of leading the conversation, they expect the applicant to do all the work. Pulling any concrete information out of these interviewers is next to impossible. Questions that the applicant asks are either deflected or answered in such vague terms that the interviewer might as well have not answered.

It may not be uncomfortable for the interviewer, but any job applicant worth their salt will have a high level of discomfort, as they sit there and ask themselves, “Why am I here?”

And the odds are extremely high that the applicant won’t get hired, which is probably for the best, because if somebody can’t even lead an interview, they certainly can’t lead a team. But, again, it’s frustrating.

The whole hiring process is replete with endless frustration. It’s demoralizing. And it seems to be designed to favor the survival of the fittest – only those who don’t quit until something finally breaks seem to be the winners.

Ask anybody who’s been through it and finally found employment, though, if they feel like a winner. The answer, because job applicants are the losers just about all of the time in the hiring process, will be “No.”

Besides all the unquintessential leadership involved in the current hiring process, the biggest problem throughout the process is communication. No communication. Delayed communication. Iffy communication. Vague communication. Wrong communication.

Quintessential leaders put a high premium on excellent communication, clear communication, correct communication, and prompt communication. That is a core component of life, of team-building, and of hiring.

Quintessential leaders also forgo the multilayered, inefficient, and dysfunctional current trend of hiring. They don’t let anyone or anything get between themselves and potential team members.

Because they know what they are looking for and they know that they will know it when they see it, quintessential leaders will do all the legwork, from advertising a position to filling the position, hands-on and by themselves (they will involve their teams in peer interviews when applicants come in, though, because the team’s input is an important part of the decision-making process).

This is the best and most effective way to hire people and, despite the unquintessential leader’s excuse that they don’t have time to do that, it is the most productive, long-term, time that quintessential leaders can spend to build their teams for productivity, for success, and for profitability.

Is your organization a mess when it comes to hiring?

Is the hiring process so convoluted that it takes forever to get a new team member on board and when they finally get there, everybody realizes it was bad hire?

Does the choice come down to making do with somebody who is not the right fit just to have a body or to leave a position open and go through the whole time-intensive, convoluted hiring process again, with no guarantee that the results will be different the next time around?

For those of us striving to be quintessential leaders, this is unacceptable. We need to take back our team-building responsibilities, no matter how much of our own time we have to invest. It’s that important.

What are we going to do about it?

More importantly, what are you personally going to do about it?





team-building recruiting interviewing assessing hiringTeam-building consists of four distinct steps: recruiting, interviewing, assessing, and hiring. A flawed approach in any one of these steps will, at the least, severely derail the process, and, at the worst, stop it altogether.

Modern team-building has become an increasingly-frustrating, long and drawn out, and very unsatisfying process for both organizations and potential team members. Much of this is because of the lack of quintessential leadership guiding the process.

If your organization is having difficulty building the right teams and building great teams – which delays new project initiatives, on-going projects advancement, and, ultimately, has a negative effect on customers (existing and new) and profits – then this post will show you why.

By showing you how quintessential leaders build teams, this post will also guide you in addressing the issues and flaws in the process that are holding your organization back from fulfilling its mission statement, from growing, from being successful, and from being more profitable.

The recruiting phase of team-building is the critical part of the team-building process. If this is not done well or effectively, then the rest of the steps – interviewing, assessing, and hiring – won’t matter.

It’s that important.

And yet, most of the time, very little, if any, quality attention and investment is given to this step. As a result, this is where the biggest bottlenecks occur and where the process tends to crash and burn.


There are several key reasons why recruiting is the least effective and most failure-ridden step of your organization’s team-building efforts:

  1. The role of potential team member additions is fuzzy.

    This is usually because the person who is responsible for leadership of the team is not clear on exactly what they want, but they want it now.

    As a result, they create a vague and general position description that 90% of potential team members meet the criteria for, resulting in an overwhelming number of potential team members who aren’t a match for the actual position.

  2. The role of potential team member additions is burdensomely skill-heavy and skill-specific.

    This is usually because the person who is responsible for the leadership of the team has created a rigid, unrealistic box that potential team members are expected to fit immediately and 100% into on Day 1 if they are added to the team.

    As a result, no potential team members possess all the skills and the proficiency levels specified, so no potential team members are a match for the position.

  3. The role of potential team member additions is inaccurately named.

    This is usually because either the person responsible for the leadership of the team has not defined the role in their own mind precisely enough or because the organization has a very lateral structure where functions and roles are not the same thing, but they look like the same thing on paper.

    As a result, potential team members who are “overqualified” apply. And, unfortunately, these potential team members intimidate the team leaders because of their experience and expertise. So, only from the team leaders’ standpoint, these potential team members are not considered a match.

  4. Potential team members are being vetted and eliminated through an automated human resources database system (designed by human resources departments and database administrators with no first-hand knowledge or understand of what job-specific complexities are involved with successfully adding a member to the team) with a limited and general keyword set.

    In other words, there is no human interaction in the initial phase of the recruiting process. The person responsible for leading the team doesn’t get a good and diverse choice of potential team members and potential team members who would be an excellent match get eliminated by an flawed automated process.

  5. Potential team members are being vetted by outsourced and offshore recruiters who barely understand and can communicate in the native language of the organization and the potential team members.

    As a result, the recruiters don’t really understand the requirements of the role, so they contact potential team members who most likely are not a match.

    For those potential team members, the interaction – always phone – is a nightmare because of the communication issues. Even if there is a possible match, potential team members will pass on it because they’re not going to agree to anything they can’t comprehend, language-wise.

  6. Organization recruiters either don’t understand or simply mismatch skill sets repeatedly.

    As a result, potential team members who are contacted by these kinds of recruiters end up being ready to gnash their teeth, pull their hair out, and include a phrase in their email signature that says “If you are recruiting for ‘x,’ ‘x’ does not equal ‘y,’ so please pass on by.”

  7. Organizations using domestic top-tier recruiting agencies – who have met with and know the potential team members they have available to offer – don’t give the recruiters enough concrete information about the role and the kind of potential team members they are looking for to enable the recruiters to do a good initial vetting job for them.

    As a result, recruiters reach out to potential team members who seem to meet the criteria given and being the process of setting the potential team member up with the person responsible for leading the team in the organization.

    This can go through several steps between the recruiter and the potential team member toward an interview and then suddenly stop because the organization hiring, or the team leader, or both realize they didn’t nail the role down concretely enough for the potential team members the recruiter is presenting them with.

    This is frustrating and a time-waster for both the recruiter and the potential team member (who may be putting other things on hold because this position is a good match) and it’s a time-waster for the organization that is hiring.

Quintessential leaders understand that recruiting is the crucial step in the team-building process. Therefore, this is the step they spend quality time on.

They first accurately and completely define the role they want to fill on their team. This is a skill that requires visualizing a human being in that role, not just things that are needed because nobody on the team has them or can do them. 

The definition should be big-picture, with the areas of responsibility framed out in the role’s description.

Quintessential leaders then identify the core competencies that the role requires.

This part of the recruiting step looks at experience, not in terms of specific applications, but in terms of what areas potential team members need to have experience, knowledge, and understanding in to successfully fill the identified role.

It also specifies the level (entry, intermediate, advanced, or expert) of experience, knowledge, and understanding that potential team members need to have to be a successful addition to the team. 

Core competencies are also identified and framed out in terms of the big picture.

At this point in the recruiting process, quintessential leaders have a very good idea of what they need in a potential team member, but because there are too many intangible things like personality, temperament, culture of the team/organization that also factor into who the successful candidate will be, quintessential leaders bypass the automated vetting systems because they realize they may lose great potential team members just because their resumes don’t exactly match the database keywords.

Although some quintessential leaders may use top-tier recruiting agencies (with specific instructions on the type of candidates they’re looking for), the majority of quintessential leaders usually do the actual dirty work – reading resumes and cover letters to select potential candidates – of recruiting themselves.

The reason is that cover letters and resumes can tell them a lot about potential candidates that they won’t be able to find out any other way other than a face-to-face interview.

Because quintessential leaders are big-picture people, they have an uncanny ability to connect disparate dots that may not look like they are related, but actually are.

By using this ability with actual cover letters and resumes, they will be able to identify, far more accurately than anyone or anything else, which candidates will be the best fit for the team.

Quintessential leaders also understand intangibles about people, and cover letters and resumes will often reveal those.

These intangibles include transferable skills (skills developed or learned in one industry, type of organization, or even life experience that can be used in other industries and types of organizations), skills that can be taught and learned, and intuitive or innate skills. These round out the big-picture snapshot of each potential team member.

Quintessential leaders now have a finite set of potential team members that they have personally identified as good fits for their teams to make initial contact with as the recruiting step transitions into the interviewing step of team-building.

And once the recruiting step is done, the rest of the team-building process is comparatively easy.

It’s unfortunate that most organizations and leaders of teams would rather expend the majority of their effort on the back end of the team-building process (which includes the termination process when poorly-chosen team members don’t work out), continually sacrificing productivity, success, and profitability as a result, instead of on the front end where it matters most.

If you’re unhappily employed, underemployed, or unemployed, this post is for you. No, it won’t lead to real change unless the people listed in the next paragraph read it, understand it, and choose to become quintessential leaders in this area (my hope), but it will explain what’s happening now and hopefully it will spur you to think creatively about how to present yourself to organizations as a prospective team member.

Likewise, if you’re in talent acquisition in a human resources department or you’re in a leadership position with decision-making responsibility for building a team or teams, this post is also for you. My hope is that you take it to heart and make the changes necessary to build new teams and add to existing teams.

As I’ve said often, quintessential leaders think outside of the box in every area of life. In addition, they are big-picture thinkers. Because of that, they approach building their teams from a completely different perspective than unquintessential leaders. 

Here is how they (and, we, who are quintessential leaders) do it. (more…)