The game-changing reality for recruiters

Published on

February 18, 2021

Written by

Alison Humphries


Most of the recruiters I know tell me that engaging great candidates is really hard. Despite increased candidate availability in some sectors, most are extremely reluctant to move and risk their employment rights.

At the same time, many are dealing with a deluge of unsuitable candidates. Why? Here’s a few reasons:
  • Desperate job seekers who find it easy to apply indiscriminately
  • Poor candidate attraction techniques
  • Business development activity that is mismatched with candidate activity
  • Cold approaches to candidates- expecting people to jump at first contact.

From the points above, there is only one I’d like to focus on here, and it’s one you can definitely do something about. And while you are about it you can position yourself better with clients, improve job satisfaction and do some good in the world, it will reduce CV dependency and change the talent pool…

What is it?

It is becoming aware of diversity and inclusion.

Before you groan about “wokeness”, political correctness gone mad and how you don’t need to make your job any harder, hold back a moment.

I know many seasoned recruiters who see D+I as an exercise in box-ticking. “Quotas” of underrepresented groups thrust upon them. A nice-to-have “extra” that will never work because clients want experience.

Yes, they do. But not in the way that many people think.  Experience doesn’t only mean “10 years doing this job already”. It means bringing a range of experience to the table.

Organisations with diverse workforces are 70% more likely to be considered innovative leaders in their sectors.

Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation (Boston Consulting Group, 2018).

When we look at the natural world, biodiversity equals resilience. Monoculture leads to blight, disease and extinction. Yet lots of recruiters, and their clients, continue to endorse monoculture. They do it unconsciously, often relying on CVs.

We know that an estimated 78% of CVs are not entirely truthful. They are self-authored, and therefore highly selective in what they include. The dominance of CVs in our recruitment culture sets up an expectation. Recognise these expectations?

  • A clear, linear career path going unerringly in one direction.
  • Total, continuous employment.
  • Of prioritising career above all else since graduation.
  • Regular periods spent in each organisation, of at least 2-3 years.

Can you see the problem here?

  • These expectations are all based on a model of work that looks distinctly outdated now. An early/mid 20th century model where (usually) men could prioritise work because their wives didn’t work.
  • Jobs didn’t change or disappear with the rapidity they do now.
  • People didn’t need to retrain, or access education later in life.
  • Where age and seniority went hand in hand.

On top of that, people over-relying on CVs in recruitment pile on further assumptions and biases, like these:

  • Holding a job is the same thing as doing it well.
  • Doing a job in one organisation equips you 99% to do it in another.
  • That people who have uninterrupted work histories always have more relevant and valuable experience.

So we can begin to see how CV-based assumptions can exclude, right from the outset, those who have had other demands than earning money. Like caring or childcare or community responsibilities.

Or those who have changed career direction, tried different working models, and learned very valuable skills along the way.

And even those who may, in fact, have the best skills, behaviours and aptitudes for a role, but have less “experience”.

You may say that recruiters don’t get paid for finding potential, just experience. But most organisations hire on CV experience, yet fire on behaviours.

Think about your own organisation.

Lots of employers, and recruiters, simply aren’t aware of other ways of enhancing their candidate shortlists. That can include Positive Action (legal, unlike positive discrimination), using aptitude and ability tests that are appropriate for the role, and competency-based interviewing.

No-one can deny that knowledge is critical in most (non-entry level) roles. I would always want my doctor to have medical knowledge. But – if I have a choice – I won’t stay with a doctor with poor behaviours. At worst, those behaviours can lead to abuse of patients and colleagues, poor communication, cover ups and lawsuits.

So how can we persuade clients to look at other (non-CV centric) approaches to recruitment? And widen the pool of suitable candidates? How can we ensure our own biases are mitigated?

Earlier, I argued that over-reliance on CVs was leading to entrenched bias and excluding skilled candidates from the applicant pool.

In turn it weakens organisations. Group-think and Apollo syndrome cost real money.

And it makes your job, as a recruiter, harder.

In the last few months, I’ve worked with groups of recruiters who were completely stumped in a scenario-planning exercise where the use of CVs became illegal in recruitment.

Others don’t know what to say to clients who demand 10 years’ unbroken experience, or even “I’m bonused on recruiting women. So just send me an all-female shortlist”.

So, my programme covers 5 key areas:

  1. Understanding discrimination, diversity and inclusion- what are its benefits and challenges
  2. Recognising your own biases as a recruiter
  3. Optimising skills in interviewing and taking a job brief, so that we don’t rely on key-word matching between job spec and CV.
  4. Learning how to challenge bias constructively
  5. Understanding the tools and techniques that enrich your selection process
  6. Encouraging diversity through working practices.

Like to hear more? You can change your talent pool, change client practices and create a 21st century model. Don’t just do it because it’s “Nice”. Do it because it makes commercial sense.

Arrange a no-obligation, 30-minute call with Alison to discuss this and how she can support your business in 2021.

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