In the July  23, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter we take a look at how HR actually spends money to recruit the talent — or not.

In a recent column (10 reasons your company’s HR can’t fill jobs) we discussed how HR organizations bungle recruiting and hiring — when they have massive resources at their disposal. Reader David posted a comment and some questions that have nagged at me ever since. Why does HR reinvent the wheel every time it needs to fill a job?


HRHR is paying for an ATS [applicant tracking system] to store/file what’s coming through the pipeline. They are already sitting on a pile of resumes. Why not just turn the spigot off, and contact the people you already have in your pile?

Or worse yet, HR engages so-called third-party recruiters or headhunters who present the same people already in your database. I’ve had stuff like this happen to me before. I apply directly and interview for job X, but don’t get it. Later, a third-party agency comes knocking, asking if I’m interested in applying for the same job at the same company!

In other words, if you fill a position, you likely had people that were runners-up and could have done the job nearly as well as the person you hired. When you have another opening for the same role, why not call those people? Why not give them first crack at the job before you pay money for yet another job advert and waste time (we know that time = money) screening a new batch of people?

I’m not necessarily sticking up for ATS usage here, just so we’re clear.

Nick’s Reply

I don’t read your suggestion as an endorsement of ATSes, resume databases or automated recruiting. You’ve cut to the core of what hiring should be all about: relationships between employers and people (aka, talent). Let’s look at why HR wastes good job candidates it has already met.

Personal contacts are a valuable asset

Whether these candidates arrived through an ATS, a third-party recruiter, or a personal referral, we’re talking about a special set of people: those who were judged worthy by the employer after interviews and assessments. That is, these are all now “personal contacts” — people the company knows, who are pre-screened, vetted, and somehow qualified.

In other words, unlike unknown people, they are already deemed good candidates for jobs at the company. That’s an asset worth a lot of money. After all, virtually every hiring survey ever done tells us that most jobs are found and filled through personal contacts. Every candidate a company meets is a new personal contact that it has already paid for. So your question should rattle every corporate finance executive: Why do companies pay again and again to hook the same fish and throw it back into the water?

What’s a personal contact worth?

I’ll let you in on a little secret about the dollar value of personal contacts. When headhunters find good candidates for their client companies, they stay in touch with those people even if they’re not hired. Having already invested in getting to know them, headhunters know these candidates are incredibly valuable — not just as potential placements at other client companies, but as sources of other good candidates.

When a headhunter gets paid $25,000 to fill a $100,000 job, a good-but-rejected job candidate is likely to be worth at least that much money on another assignment. These are people the headhunter keeps close for years to come. The headhunter will bring other opportunities to them, and even do favors for them when possible, to foster good relationships that are likely to pay off later — whether as placements or as sources of referrals to fill other assignments. One well-cultivated personal contact like this can be worth $25,000, $50,000, or upwards of $100,000 in future fees. (See Good Headhunters: They search for living resumes.)

HR: People are a fungible commodity

I suspect that because HR managers and internal recruiters are not paid like headhunters, for actually filling a position, those personnel jockeys aren’t concerned with maintaining relationships with good candidates. Does HR even know whether a hiring manager judged the person a good candidate before hiring someone else?

Because HR’s recruiting model depends on an automated system that delivers scads of new applicants every day, HR is not so concerned with tracking who it doesn’t hire. HR views job applicants as fungible, or interchangeable — and easily replaced.

While HR might pay a headhunter $20,000 or $30,000 for one hire, HR doesn’t see the potential future value in the other good candidates HR interviewed but didn’t hire. There’s no money to cultivate professional connections, but there’s always money to buy more resumes.

Why recruit again and again?

Over 15 years ago I met with top executives at two different companies — major players in their respective industries. They were independently interested in my suggestion that they make better use of time and money they had already invested to recruit, interview and assess job candidates who were qualified — but whom they could not hire. That is, these were surplus job candidates. They were worthy of serious consideration or worth hiring, but someone else was hired instead.

I pointed out to these executives that, when they have already spent a lot of money to recruit people, they should get the full return on their recruiting investment (ROI) by using smart methods to stay close to such good candidates. I offered to help build ongoing relationships with the best candidates without spending money to recruit them again.

The idea is simple, and it’s basically what you’re suggesting. Rather than reinvent the wheel every time a new job needs to be filled; rather than spend funds soliciting new resume submissions; rather than review thousands of unknown applicants (directly or via third-party recruiters); why not go back to candidates you’ve already interviewed — candidates you know? Why not turn to people you have already assessed as good candidates, but could not hire at the time?

The challenge, of course, is how to track and stay close to good candidates you don’t hire. That’s what I was selling. Neither company understood the value. In a moment, I’ll tell you more about what happened.


I finally gave up trying to explain recruiting ROI to employers after one of my clients hired me to train its internal recruiters (who worked in the HR department) to “do it like a headhunter.” The recruiters understood everything I taught them about getting close to their candidates. But their HR boss — who paid me to do this training — wouldn’t let them practice what they learned. He didn’t want them spending time building relationships. He wanted them to process the newest batch of incoming job applications from the company’s latest job postings.

Of course, some new jobs really do require finding talent you’ve never encountered before; that’s a given. But it’s certainly true that people who impress us are valuable people to stay close to. The excuses employers offer for failing to keep good talent close are astonishing.

  • That’s not how we recruit.
  • Our ATS doesn’t support it.
  • We don’t have time to stay in touch with people.
  • Resumes have a short lifespan — a few months later, they’re out of date and thus worthless.
  • A year, or even a month, after being interviewed, a candidate’s employment status could change.
  • They might not be interested.
  • They might take another job.
  • They might have moved or retired or otherwise be unavailable.

HR: Relationships don’t apply!

But the simpler answers to my questions are painfully obvious:

  • HR is not compensated for cultivating relationships, only for processing applicants.
  • HR is not compensated for filling jobs, but mainly for interview transactions.
  • HR has a budget for job boards, but not for staying in touch with good talent.
  • HR does not fully exploit the single largest channel of good candidates — personal contacts — except with paltry employee-referral programs.
  • HR metrics do not capture the value of relationships, only the degree of matches between keywords on resumes and job descriptions.
  • There is no personal “high touch” protocol for developing relationships and personal contacts in the employer’s professional community.
  • HR relies almost completely on job boards, ATS vendors, and third-party recruiters that make money only when HR keeps paying to search for job candidates again and again.

In a nutshell, HR doesn’t actually recruit, catalog or pursue the best talent. (See HR Managers: Do your job, or get out.) HR pays to churn databases again and again for quick keyword matches.

Talent is not treated as a long-term asset to be held. Instead, people are reduced to job applications and resumes that are traded back and forth on job-board exchanges like commodities, or why would employers pay daily to sort through the same millions of resumes that their competitors repeatedly search?

HR technology vendors control recruiting

The problem is that the dominant hiring model peddled to HR by job-board and ATS providers — and accepted uncritically by HR —  is high-volume automated keyword matching. In other words, high-profit, rinse-and-repeat database services. (See HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates.)

This churn-and-churn-again model of recruiting is controlled by HR technology vendors. And it is perhaps best exemplified by the manager at a Fortune 50 company who complained to me that he couldn’t get a few bucks to take good candidates out to dinner to recruit them. Why not? Because the big job boards and ATS firms wined and dined his company’s executives to ensure the entire recruiting budget was spent on job boards and ATS services.

If the potential future value of an individual job candidate actually mattered to HR, every applicant would receive a nice note after applying. We know that doesn’t happen because, why bother? There are 100 million more in the database where that one came from. Job applicants are fungible. Who cares about staying in touch with them? We can pay to access all of them anytime!

Our HR isn’t set up to operate this way

So, what happened with the two companies that considered my suggestions about protecting their recruiting ROI by fully capitalizing on good candidates they did not hire?

It was Company A’s V.P. of Public Relations that initiated this discussion with me. She believed building solid, long-term relationships with job candidates would be a good way to enhance the company’s “presence” in its professional community, as well as a good public relations story to help it stand out in general. However, the V.P. of HR squashed the idea because “Our HR isn’t set up to operate this way.”

At Company B, it was an innovative HR manager that wanted to implement methods I had suggested to cultivate and track good candidates that managers had interviewed and liked but could not hire. When time came to execute a contract to develop a program, the company’s legal department squashed it because it had no precedent on which to base an agreement. The HR manager gave up. “We don’t do relationships.”

In both cases, one thing was clear: Recruiting and hiring the best talent was not the mission. Adhering to the status quo was paramount.

Why not turn the spigot off?

Reader David asks, “Why not just turn the spigot off, and contact the people you already have in your pile?” It’s a good question, and it shines a bright light on the dizzy dance of musical chairs that HR calls recruiting — if we might mix metaphors.

Every time HR finishes with a job candidate it does not hire, it wastes time, money and talent when it does not cultivate a relationship to keep the talent close. Should an employer look first at all candidates that it paid to recruit last time, before it pays to recruit again? That’s a bit dicier because a company doesn’t assess (or interview) everyone it recruits, so it doesn’t have judgments — or personal knowledge — about all of them.

I’d be happy if employers fully exploited their contacts with people they already know. This includes anyone and everyone they do business with, including current and past employees! Where do you think we headhunters look to find many of the candidates we present to our clients? We don’t turn on a fire hose; we’d drown.

Why keep screening new batches of people?

What does HR learn after interviewing and rejecting loads of people for a job? What company conducts an outcomes analysis after recruiting for a position? Do companies ever catalog and cultivate the best candidates they meet? Echoing reader David, why do employers keep screening new batches of people when they likely have good candidates in their surplus pile? It seems they do it because they can, and because they don’t know better. (See How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.)

HR should capitalize on its investment in recruiting, interviewing and assessing people it judges worthy of serious consideration or worth hiring — even if it doesn’t hire them. Paying all over again to search for candidates with every new job opening benefits no one but job-board and ATS vendors who, as we’ve already pointed out, make the most money when employers keep going back to search again and again. That’s what outsourcing recruiting is all about — paying for repeated access to databases and keywords, and avoiding taking people to dinner to forge long-term professional relationships and personal networks that can pay off again and again — for the employer.

Is it smarter for employers to collect and cultivate relationships with the best talent? Or to advertise anew each time they need to fill a job? Are there any employers out there who stay close to good candidates after interviewing them? How do you do it?

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  1. It seems that when they changed from being called ‘Personnel’ to “Human Resources’, they did seem to regard prospective job candidates as a commodity instead of a ‘person’.

    This an example of what they think of job applicants:

    • Yep. “HR: We took the Personal out of Personnel.”

  2. Well, it is because the company has just rejected the candidate, so many a candidate if called to interview again, will remark “yeah, right.” A headhunter keeping in touch with someone is different because the headhunter hasn’t rejected anyone.
    There used to be a standard response of “we’ll keep your resume on file and call you if something comes up,” which is slightly less believable than “the check is in the mail.”
    Also, not all jobs are the same. The runner up for job A might not even be close to what is needed for job B.

    HR these days seems unable to get back to candidates who have come in for interviews, based on what I’ve seen. Expecting them to build personal relationships is just a fantasy.
    The person who should be building personal relationships is the hiring manager. He or she can talk intelligently about the field, give feedback to candidates, and always be looking for talent. A manager who helps another manager fill an opening gets lots of brownie points. So building relationships works even if you don’t have openings.
    Let’s not expect managers to delegate one of their most important jobs to HR.

    • @Scott: Your point about HR being unable to get back to candidates is well taken. My point is that it is nonetheless imprudent and wasteful. I don’t expect HR to do anything, but I will also call HR out for its self-defeating cluelessness. Most jobs are found and filled via personal contacts. What part of that does HR (in general, though of course not in every case) not understand? A job interview is a perfect opportunity for the most powerful kind of networking, if both parties are savvy enough to exploit it for their mutual benefit. What a waste when that meeting gets flushed without doing anything more.

      Of course, your bigger point about managers is dead on. HR fails employers only when hiring managers let it. Most curious are managers who allow HR to take the hiring prerogative away from them.

      • Reminds me of the group leader at a global giant, who said he wanted to hire me, but didn’t know how.

    • That sort of depends on how the runners-up were treated when they were turned down for the job, doesn’t it? Send the people who weren’t hired a nice note explaining that they just missed out on the position and maybe that “yeah, right” attitude can be minimized—even if the note doesn’t go into great detail about the whys. Complete radio silence has got to the worst way to do treat candidates but definitely seems to be the norm.

    • “Well, it is because the company has just rejected the candidate, so many a candidate if called to interview again, will remark “yeah, right.””

      The cynicism is because of the way candidates were treated in the first place.

      I have no problems applying to organizations that had a good candidate experience. In fact, I am currently working at a place that rejected me when I interviewed the previous year. They let me know where I was lacking and give me some pointers on what to improve on/do if I wanted to the job. Guess what? I took their advice and got the job the following year.

  3. Scott makes an important point: people will only be interested in a “second call” if they are treated well the first time, even if they do not get a job.

    Ten years ago, I interviewed for a combined geoscience and sales job at a seismic contractor. After two interviews, they said no, but offered to explain why. The reason was, I was well qualified, but a bit too intense on the interview, and they feared I might be a bit too intense towards prospective customers as well.

    Ouch, that hit hard! But it was true, a useful lesson for the future, and I thanked them for being candid, rather than the usual boilerplate.

    Later, I have met that hiring manager on other occasions in the oil industry, on friendly terms, talking business. So it was natural to contact him, when I considered his current company as a possible next move, and he set up a talk.

    Due to a merger of that company with another one, time will show what happens, but the bottom line is: If they had rejected me in the usual, boilerplate way ten years ago, both his current company and I might have lost an opportunity.

    • @Karsten: That’s an excellent real-world, real-life example of what I’m talking about. There is absolutely no guarantee of a “return” if an employer takes extra steps to “stay close” to a candidate. But you illustrate clearly how the extra steps this employer took have helped foster a relationship that otherwise might never have materialized.

      Meanwhile, people arch their brows and puzzle over what “networking” really means. What you describe is a deliberate effort on the part of this employer to cultivate relationships by taking extra steps. That’s networking in real life. Thanks for sharing this. Whatever happens, you’ve got one more friend in your industry. Someone tell me why that’s not an advantage?

  4. I can see the legal and diversity argument for avoiding relationship based hiring.

    It certainly smacks off the old boys network,but there could well be a middle ground.

    Relationship building would have to apply to all canidates or none to be fair,and all would be expansive.

    • I don’t quite follow you here – how could a candidate be “diverse” enough on a first go around but not for subsequent opportunities?

      • @AskeLadd
        >how could a candidate be “diverse” enough on a first go around but not for subsequent opportunities?

        I think you misunderstood me (although your situation could occur depending on who might have been hired for other roles between the first go-round and the second go-round)

        Anyone can apply for a job on a website, without giving away gender/race/visible disability/mannerisms. Once you start meeting in -person you have a lot more information to judge on (even subconsciously) then with networks the default is for people to network with people like them.

        You have to make a deliberate effort to network with people outside your gender/race/income bracket because they won’t be going to the events and staying in the areas you tend to head towards.

        Note that instant messages can be used by the hiring manager rather than phone calls/Skype in-person to give all of the advantages for BOTH sides of the argument.

    • @Craigster: I think I understand the intent of your observation – to promote hiring from a diverse rather than homogeneous pool. But that presupposes that business operates in a vacuum where “all things are equal.” If all things were equal, there would be no companies more successful than others. In reality, the most successful companies are those that cultivate some kind of competitive edge. (Sometimes, of course, that edge is illegal or unethical, but that’s for another discussion.)

      Hiring through relationships tends to lower risk because personal referrals usually include a good measure of skin in the game. Someone you trust is unlikely to recommend a candidate who is untrustworthy or incapable. So you’re more likely to make a good hire. That gives your company an edge that you should always strive for. (Relationship-based hiring is only one example of what I’m talking about. Choosing vendors based on referrals is another.)

      None of this implies lack of diversity in hiring. I’ve had bigots refer candidates to me who were instantly marked as risky because of the source of the referral. I think that the outcome of relationship-based hiring depends more on the quality and integrity of the employer and hiring manager than it does on who does the referring and on the candidate. The manager must be above reproach. Sure, that’s a tall order, but why aspire to complacency and mediocrity?

      Hiring through trusted referrals and relationships doesn’t mean your pool of possible candidates is not diverse — not unless you allow it to be. The truly competitive manager cultivates a circle of friends that is diverse.

      • One more thing. If the company has made a start on diversity, what better way than relationship-based hiring to leverage the diverse employees to find more, and find good ones.

        Not quite diversity but HR in my old company had a policy of having student interviewees be taken to lunch by the most recently hired new college grad. They did a good sales job because they were still excited about working there and were more believable than some old fogy manager.

        • >If the company has made a start on diversity, what better way than relationship-based hiring to leverage the diverse employees to find more, and find good ones

          Random selection of candidates from online applications. As long as the job ad has been carefully written, this will result in more candidates who are more diverse in more ways than if they simply use relationship-based approach.

          Instead of a company of black and white straight men, you could have one of Asian/Native/White/black/gay/straight/bi/lesbian men/women/transgender young, old & middle aged people.

          Which is better? I make no judgement, but I know what the government says and I know what the customer base is likely to look like.

          • @Craigster: The assumption that random selection of candidates is best holds no water. Would you randomly visit 10 doctors before selecting one to treat you? Would you visit 5 different stores so you could see and hold 10 different brands of light bulbs before you bought a pack of bulbs? The point is to be efficient and to choose wisely. So, on what does an employer base selection? “Diversity” is not a hiring criterion. Ability to do the work is. Where diversity truly comes into play is this: Do you as an employer have a circle of professional friends that is diverse, so that personal referrals will be diverse? It’s on the employer. You can’t solve for diversity by behaving randomly. Selecting candidates randomly is a silly excuse for truly failing to cultivate a diverse circle of friends and contacts.

            • @Nick

              >The assumption that random selection of candidates is best holds no water

              When I’m back home, I will look for the research on it.

              It certainly leads to the most diverse pool and avoids some of the false negatives hr process throws in though better is subjective. Although random hiring wasn’t the most revenue generating method by the survey(I think it was the process used by the US government) it was significantly better than ATS. Anything which performs worse than random chance is not something a company should invest in.

              >Would you randomly visit 10 doctors before selecting one to treat you

              I just went based on the random selection(it depends on what time and place you live in)

              That’s kind of how our socialised health care system works.

              The NHS goes to great lengths to ensure thay the decision makers on the hirers have no pre-existing relationships with candidates, (recusing them like judges do) anonmyising applications to ensure the best candidate get through rather than the one who happens to know somebody.

              I think companies make a knee jerk copy of this everyone goes through the process without the rest of the investment in the process. Which leaves an awful application and HR insiting that everyone follow the process.

              >So, on what does an employer base selection?

              Whom they know.

              >Diversity” is not a hiring criterion

              No however it should be an automatic result of a process designed to hire the best revenue generating employees.

              If one particular group is over represented then either something in their backgrounds makes them better than anyother demographic or your hiring process has a false postive. You can test that.

              For a good example look at classical orchesteras,their revenue and profits is based on how good they are, so the ability to do the work is the sound of playing your trumpet or whatever.

              Yet women were constantly underrepresented they could never get the jobs and network with players and employers said they were just not good at it.

              Then they started playinh behind curtains during the interviews and the number of women being hired shot up.

              Did the curtain increase their ability to the job(and that of black men’s too) or did it remove bias from hiring and result in more people being hired based on abilty?

              >Ability to do the work is.

              Your right,however if abilty to do rhe work was the sole crtierion then relationship and CVs would only be important if you were looking for someone to build relationships or write CVs.

              Why not have an application process where you test everyone on the ablity to do the work then randomly select from people with the top marks?

              >Would you visit 5 different stores so you could see and hold 10 different brands of light bulbs before you bought a pack of bulbs?

              No I would just randomly select the store then randomly select the pack of light bulbs that way I’m not wasting time

              I might look at two boxes in one area.

              >Do you as an employer have a circle of professional friends that is diverse, so that personal referrals will be diverse?

              If you selected who you would be friends with on a random basis then you would have a diverse network.

              Note, I mean true randomness, a mathematician should be able to mathmatically prove that your professional friendaet is random.

              It solves some accidental bias issues.

            • Hi Nick,

              I usually just lurk and read the articles and comments but I wanted to point out an outdated concept in this particular post.

              The concept that diversity is not a hiring criterion has gone out the window. Currently it is a huge consideration in some industries. Right or wrong, it is a driving force in entire market segments.

              Thanks for the great content!

            • @Nat Kuhn: I’m not sure where you got the idea that there’s a “concept that diversity is not a hiring criterion.” It’s front and center almost everywhere. Or am I not understanding what you mean? (Thanks for your kind words!)

          • Your “random selection of candidates from online applications” presupposes that the pool of applicants is itself a random sample.

            That’s wishful thinking. Even if the JD were perfectly written, without any bias or anything like that, that’s still no guarantee that your pool of applicants is going to be a random sample. If you’re concerned about “diversity,” a random sample from a skewed applicant population is not going to be a random sample of the population as a whole. Stats 101.

            • >Your “random selection of candidates from online applications” presupposes that the pool of applicants is itself a random sample.

              That’s wishful thinking

              Your right that’s a major problem. How could you increase the randomness of the pool?

      • I think my observation was unclear, it is much easier for legal to say that they are hiring from a diverse rather than homogenous pool if they rely on simple adverts ad it is really hard for networking to be designed and shown to avoid hiring from an homogenous pool rather than a diverse one. I suspect that creates a lot of blowback and accounts for the idea of funnelling everyone in to the same process.

        If HR was accountable and measured based on performance and the process was well thought out and scientific, this might not be a problem.

        >But that presupposes that business operates in a vacuum where “all things are equal.”

        Not really, It pre-supposes that there is an advantage to hiring diverse candidates to the company, either by allowing better revenue (because they understand their customers better(are the customers’ homogenous? ) or it covers their asses on a legal front.

        If this was true there would never have been companies that were deliberately designed to attract women as their competitive edge(Freaknomic)

        >Hiring through relationships tends to lower risk

        That’s the good side of the process, that is lost in the other approach.

        >None of this implies lack of diversity

        Actually it does, and that’s the problem. (Head-hunters might be an exception, since they have to actively build out a network) However the default is for people to be friends with people like themselves

        How much of your networking is done outside of your hometown? Your state? In low income areas? High income areas? What % of your network is male/female/black/latino/Asian?

        If networking doesn’t imply lack of diversity then your networks should be roughly similar to national statistics? That’s untrue for mine, what about yours? If most jobs are found via networking and networking doesn’t imply a lack of diversity then how do you explain the lack of diversity at companies? Shouldn’t they be roughly representative of the country? Could it be because networking leads to only candidates who are most demographically like the hiring manager getting the job?

        • Equal opportunity is the goal not equal outcomes. We cannot force outcomes through law and retain freedom of choice although some people in important positions seem to think we can. If random selection and diversity made the best teams, we should all be put into a lottery and assigned jobs.

          You could also argue that these job boards are discriminatory towards people without resources (money/opportunity/knowledge) to have and use the internet. That limits diversity and is also a big problem I have observed as a career advisor. There are perfectly qualified candidates that cannot navigate the internet job applications. I have also read of parts of the US that don’t have access to high speed internet such as the more rural parts of my state (Michigan).

          Also, you may be thinking of large companies that are multinational, but where I live we are 90% white. There is no way our companies can be representative of the country as a whole.

          • >If random selection and diversity made the best teams,

            I’m saying the evidence suggests it is better than networking or the typical HR process.

            >we should all be put into a lottery and assigned jobs.

            Well that would probably perform better than any HR jockey and I bet it would give a headhunter a run for their money.

            Though I’d suggest it would make more sense everytime someone wants to change jobs just to randomly reallocate them to openings.

            Remember your process assumes the world is static.

            >You could also argue that these job boards are discriminatory towards people without resources (money/opportunity/knowledge) to have and use the internet. That limits diversity and is also a big problem I have observed as a career advisor.

            Your right online onlt advertising only is exchanging one diversity limit for another.

            It certainly goes further in someways bit leave others behind
            All though you could argue that if you need to navigate the internet for the job then it is a viable test of critera.

          • >Also, you may be thinking of large companies that are multinational, but where I live we are 90% white. There is no way our companies can be representative of the country as a whole.

            Your right. I’m forgetting just how large America is, I don’t think replacing national with state works either. Maybe county. Does your company have roughly 10% non white and roughly 50% women across all job roles?

            I’m presuming women are roughly half of the population.

            • There’s actually more women than men where I work. So, to hold it to the usual litmus, men must be getting discriminated against…

              What do you consider “non-white”? I work with a man that was born in Spain but his skin is still “white”. My genetics come from Germany/Hungary but my skin tone is still white; the socioeconomic of my upbringing is a fusion of white trash and redneck with computer nerd parents (I got better though). Is that diverse or am I nothing more than the color of my skin?

              That’s why I bring up that Equal Opportunity and Equal Outcome are not the same thing no matter how much PC society wants it to be. Maybe certain demographics prefer one type of work over another? It’s not up to the employer to force people to work for them because the color of their skin or the contents of their trousers so they can check off their diversity bingo sheets. I have my job because 1) I applied for it and 2) my employer deemed me worth hiring. If #2 was influenced (negatively or positively) because of my ambiguous, mixed, irrelevant racial background (or my sex), that is inappropriate. To be honest, I even have doubts on if standards such as this should exist outside the public sector. Private businesses exist to make money and we, as consumers, should be proactive about depriving them of capital if we don’t like their practices but too many people just keep consuming anyway.

              This is a complex issue and has no tidy solution. And don’t forget Sociology 101 – societal stratification will create situations that look like racism without there being a willful choice to be racist as a result of the distribution of wealth, value of regions of property, and the fiduciary responsibility of bankers to care for their clients. I’m sure that also plays a role in staff diversity.

              Oh reality… you’re so untidy!

        • My point was that once you have diverse employees, using reasonably well known methods, if you encourage them to network you’ll get more, and do it more easily and more effectively than if you used traditional techniques.
          One big problem with diversity as it is done today is that you wind up with only one woman or black candidate or old candidate or whatever. Don’t you think they’d be energized if they were encouraged to find more like them? And not feel so isolated?

          • @Scott

            >My point was that once you have diverse employees, using reasonably well known methods, if you encourage them to network you’ll get more

            The problem there is you won’t increase diversity you will decrease it unless you make them network with the last people they would normally. That’s just human nature.

            How many parties do you know where people on oppostite sides of the poltical spectrum mingle?

      • Another problem with this whole diversity schtick and the insistence that the workforce mirror the population in proportional representation:

        Not all jobs are equally appealing across the population. Some jobs attract certain population segments more than others. It’s got nothing to do with bias, education, or any of the usual suspects, and everything to do with personal preference and choice.

        Example: There are more men in welding than women. Welding is a hot, dirty, and potentially dangerous job. Men look at that type of position and say “Sure – why not? You can make some cool stuff, and the pay isn’t too bad.” Women look at the same job and say, “Eh, pass. It’s hot and dirty, and I don’t want to spend all my time with machines and equipment. Besides, it’d probably break my nails.”

        • @Askeladd

          >Some jobs attract certain population segments more than others.

          True, and yet other jobs are held out due to bias.

          >Welding is a hot, dirty, and potentially dangerous job. Men look at that type of position and say “Sure – why not? You can make some cool stuff, and the pay isn’t too bad.” Women look at the same job and say, “Eh, pass. It’s hot and dirty,

          Although there are women welders.

          There is a building company here who hires women (all of the competitors struggle to fill the position)

          He pointed out in the paper all he had to do was get female porta potties and overalls built for women. That’s bias, no female (or unisex) ports potties on sites, so women find if awkward and quickly leave rather than staying.

          I know plenty of men that wouldn’t do that work and Plenty of grease monkey tpe women. wWth redesigned overalls you would perhaps get more women.

          Anatomy obviously drives design and most overalls for dirty jobs are built for men. Which reduces the numbers

          • Where did I say there were no women welders? But the fact is that most women prioritize family over career, and hence choose to go into careers that allow for greater flexibility in scheduling, less stress, etc. And those happen to be the jobs that generally don’t pay as well as other occupations that men gravitate towards.

            The broader point, of course, is that it is pure fantasy to think that all jobs can reflect proportional representation of all the balkanized segments of the population, and bias doesn’t play the role in this fact that some people like to assign to it.

            • I agree, not that there are no women welders, but that HR has a twisted take on diversity.

              Instead of trying to mirror the population at large, HR would do better to mirror the demographics of the specific workforce sector. If only 5% of graduating widget-makers are female then, at least in theory, your goal for your workforce should be around 5%.

              I say in theory because there are so many other factors that can drive why individuals will be attracted to a job. Things like location (how many women live in the area, what education/training options are nearby, what other jobs are available, etc.), the average tenure for that position (if the incumbents have been there for over 20 years, they are more likely to be male), the average age of the workforce (as mentioned, women will opt in and out of a career because of care-giving responsibilities), and the size of that workforce sector (if you have less than 20 widget-makers on your payroll, by proportion you would have less than 1 woman which is usually zero), etc.

              But what we see is HR trying to rationalize that our workforce should be 50% female widget-makers because that’s what the population demographics look like. So they make us all nuts with diversity training to address issues like stereotype threat and unconscious bias. I am not saying these things don’t exist, but they are a poor solution to what could be an imaginary problem.

              I don’t mean to trivialize barriers that do exist, my point is that these barriers are better addressed by examining the pipelines.

              Getting back to our original discussion, HR will never have a handle on selection bias when they have such a biased selection process.

            • I agree, it’s getting rather tiring the emphasis placed on ‘diversity’. That somehow it magically makes things better.

              Japan is practically 100% ethnic Japanese and they seem to be doing fine and not finding it necessary to constantly try place women and/or non ethnic Japanese in certain positions.

              It’s ridiculous that the guy who told the truth regarding the differences between men and women was fired for ‘wrong think’.

              As a woman, I know that he is correct that women tend to prefer working with people and men prefer working with things. Of course, there will always be exceptions.

              Most women do not want to be the token woman to make the stats look good. If a position is advertised and 99 men apply and one woman applies, should the woman be offered the position to ‘represent women’.

            • The South Miami-based firm that designed the pedestrian bridge on Florida International University (FIU) that collapsed, killing six people and injuring at least nine others. is getting a lot of heat — probably even more so because it is led by and consists of all women

            • The emphasis on diversity is even resulting in people dying:

              TED talk, ‘Diversity must die’:

  5. Instead of “we’ll keep your resume on file for X months in the event another position opens up,” it’s now “please check our job board for updates and apply again.”

    The system is so effed up – why can’t HR see that simple truth?

    • IMHO, you’re better off checking their careers site. The companies where I’ve been told that my resume will be kept on file, etc., etc., always result in emails alerting me about positions that are wildly out of sync with my background. Whatever mechanism they use to match the resumes they have `on file’ with new openings seems to be seriously broken. And if that process is anything like the way their ATS screening works, well, maybe that explains why they have a tough time finding qualified candidates.

    • @Askeladd: Nice and sweet and short.

      Put another way, HR selects candidates from “who comes along” on the job boards. Not by intently pursuing people HR knows are the best candidates.

      That’s why the system is what it is and why it doesn’t work. HR can’t see that simple truth because HR buys lock, stock and barrel into the database solution to hiring that Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter et al. peddle for big bucks. But more is not better. Wait and see who comes along again is not better.

      Get off your ass and go find the people you need to hire is better. :-)

  6. I have received the “we’ll keep your resume on file” letter a few times, I always assumed it was BS, just boilerplate or some nonesense the legal dept made up. I never took it seriously, although keeping track of people you’ve already met makes great sense.

    • I’m sure it’s a polite brushoff that used to have a germ of truth. These days they can’t even be bothered tossing out that little sop.

    • @James: Don’t misunderstand me. My rap on HR for not sending out thank-you notes should not be construed to mean that when HR does send out a note it means HR will actually consider you again. See Askeladd’s reply to you. That thank-you note is indeed BS boilerplate unless it’s backed up with meaningful action to stay close to you.

      For example, why doesn’t every employer send relevant new job openings to every good candidate it interviews but doesn’t hire? That’s a no-brainer.

  7. This is so true, especially for larger organizations. My story:

    I applied for a position I really wanted, my dream job. I reached out to a friend that worked for the organization and she knew the hiring manager. She reached out to him and put in a good word for me, told him he should look at my resume. During the interview, he told me I was, by far, the best candidate they had seen and he thought I was the right person for the job. He offered me the job a week later and I’ve been here for 4 months. I love it.

    The kicker is that later he told me that he never saw my resume. HR never sent it to him because I didn’t have the right keywords or something. When my friend reached out he contacted HR and asked for my resume. So two lessons; 1) Don’t trust HR to give you the best candidates, they don’t know what you really need and their keword algorithms are not the answer, and 2) Networking really is the way to get the position you want.

    • @Alan: Thanks for this clear example of the problem and the solution. The HR tangle is the problem. A personal referral is the solution.

      I’m constantly telling people that the best headhunters are no mystery. We don’t do anything magical. We do exactly what your friend did: talk to the hiring manager directly, vouch for a candidate and make a strong recommendation that’s based on substantive knowledge about that candidate.

      As you’ve shown, anybody can do what a good headhunter does: Refer a good candidate. Here’s a sterling example:

    • I recently read a comment somewhere:

      Someone said they got rejected because they didn’t have the word “Linux” anywhere in their CV/Resume.

      Their CV/Resume was littered with mentions of Debian and Ubuntu (Linux distributions).

      So, it’s almost like a catch 22 in some cases: If you have Linux in your CV/Resume you’ll get rejected because someone didn’t see the name of a specific distribution, but if you name distributions, someone will reject you because no mention of Linux.

      • >Their CV/Resume was littered with mentions of Debian and Ubuntu

        HR jockeys don’t understand the job they are hiring for and only do keyword searches like a bot.

        A developer would never have made that mistake.

  8. The system is so broken. Here’s a funny story. A few months ago a friend of mine who runs a small web and digital marketing agency reached out to me as a client of his had made the move to a new company where they were also hiring for a web/marketing ops role he thought I would be good for. I emailed my friend my updated resume to pass along to his client (who wasn’t the hiring manager). I heard nothing for almost two weeks and then, one day, an automated email from the company hr department with a link to a personality test came through. Had I known they were going to do that, I would’ve told my friend I wasn’t interested. I thought given the personal referral they’d at least have the decency to try and have a call with me first before taking me to the wrack.

    I reached back out to him and tried to be diplomatic about it. I told him that they must’ve have more candidates applying than they could handle because they were requesting I complete the personality test before anything else. I told him I wasn’t interested in adding more to their pile to process and I wouldn’t be completing said test. He agreed it was weird and the hr person tried lamely once more to get me to take the test through the message section in the automated email before they gave up and moved on.

    I guess what’s also funny, or ironic really, was the company made HR software!

    But you see the same behaviors happening everywhere now thanks to technology. Databases and apps are making it too easy for people to treat others like inhuman objects. You see the complaints from Uber drivers, to Instacart shoppers, to GrubHub delivery drivers. The technology is a convenient buffer to avoid basic human contact and contracts like tipping, etc.

    • EM: I love you! Thanks for bringing up the dark side of personal referrals: employers that treat such referrals like they’ve got lice.

      What a waste! This is why many people will not participate in their employer’s “employee referral” programs. They know that if they go to the trouble to recommend a friend or professional acquaintance for a job, the personal treatment ends right there. No one on the inside will treat the personal referral any differently from an applicant that appears through a job posting. The person who made the referral winds up looking bad to the prospective candidate. And the employer looks even worse.

      My compliments for taking a pass on this “opportunity.” You’re looking at a company that doesn’t respect relationships and introductions. It’s not hard to guess how they treat their customers, too.

      Like employment, many industries have shot themselves in the foot by buying into database solutions that are peddled by database jockeys. Automating a business process so you can “process” more data leads you to buy more data to process… because that’s what your tool does… process more data.

      But the underlying problem is, more data is not good!. More data is not the objective. Often, less is far better. I need a big database solution to hiring only if I’m determined to dumpster dive for job candidates in the big online job-board dumpster. I don’t need that “database solution” (e.g., ATS, LinkedIn, etc.) if I realize my chances of hiring a great candidate are far better if I go hang out where the small group of people I want to hire hang out.

      Here’s the dirty little secret the job-board purveyors cover up: Databases are not the solution to hiring. If they were, Zip, Linked, Indeed et al. would publish stunning success metrics based on robust analysis of outcomes of using their tools. In fact, they publish nothing about success metrics because their success rates suck. For more on this, check out this expose of Indeed’s phony “independent survey” that “shows” Indeed delivers 65% of hires:

      You’re right, EM: Databases and apps like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn dumb down the hiring process by pretending people are database objects and that hiring decisions can be calculated by algorithms. Worse are HR execs who fund those database jockeys while also complaining they can’t find the right workers!

      • >Thanks for bringing up the dark side of personal referrals: employers that treat such referrals like they’ve got lice.

        I blame the hiring mangers fear of lawyers and lawsuits.

  9. Back in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, job fairs were quite frequent. They would set up in a hotel ballroom or at a convention center. Those still exist but I don’t see them as often. I got my first job out of college through a job fair. You would go around dropping off your resume. In some cases, people would get interviews on the spot – interview rooms were set up (which, interestingly, I never saw occupied).

    A gentleman I worked with said that at the end of such events he would ask all the employers, “Do you really have any jobs?” More often than not, the answer was “no” but they didn’t want other companies to know that.

    Today’s churn of the HR system is nothing more than a public relations practice to give “just the right impression.” Occasionally, people do apply and get jobs. In fact, my current company (a large European company) has an ATS, but they actually contact people who apply for a job! I applied for two jobs and got the second one! (I was contacted about both of them.)

    If a company is not doing well, one of the first signs is that they are not hiring. If you want to show shareholders and the public at large that you are doing well, give the impression that you have a lot of jobs even if you don’t.

    It’s not about the products you make, nor about the customer experience, nor about services. It’s not about happy employees. It is about happy shareholders and keeping their confidence in your brand. “Look at all the jobs we have available! See how well we are doing?” Shareholders keep their investment in the company. The stock price rises.

    PS: I have, in the past, been offered at least one position where they “kept my resume on file.”

    • @Kevin: Interesting, isn’t it, that job fairs, ATS vendors and job boards make money when employers gin up fake hiring initiatives to look good among their competitors?

      • >Interesting, isn’t it, that job fairs, ATS vendors and job boards make money when employers gin up fake hiring initiatives to look good among their competitors?

        I recall that some society’s would only pay the doctor when they were well so it would be in their best interest to get someone healthy quick.

        Imagine if job boards were paid monthly based on peoe working at companies

    • That reminds me of a job fair I went to while I was still in college back maybe 11 years ago. I was close to completing my BS in Accounting and I’m pretty sure the job fair was put on by the School of Business or I wouldn’t have bothered since I was a bit of a recluse. On a number of occasions I asked employers if they were hired accountants and got the reply “we must have some accountants. Someone cuts my check.”

      Not a very good use of my time or theirs.

  10. More years ago than I care to admit, I was turned down for a position I thought I was perfect for. When the rejection came I was pretty confused as to why. A couple of years later, though, I was hired by another company and, as it turned out, my new employer had hired a consultant to assist on a major project—and this consultant was one of the people who were doing the interviewing for the position I’d lost out on. She revealed that most of the interviewers were in favor of bringing me on board back then but that one influential person tipped the scales in favor of the person they made the offer to. The kicker to the story was that the person they hired left in the middle of his second week on the job. When some of the interviewers asked whether they could extend an offer to me they were told “No… our policy is that we never reconsider people who we’ve rejected.” Would I have accepted? Without a second thought. But it’s much better to start over from scratch, I guess. Doesn’t bruise the feelings of those who forced the decision to hire someone who didn’t work out.

  11. @EM
    You said it best: Technology acts as a buffer.

    Overall, technology has hurt the human race with all this computer crap. Funny, but I work in IT. Yes, without the computer crap, this website wouldn’t exist.

    Which would be perfect because people would have to TALK to people again! The downsides of technology has people clicking buttons instead of talking.

    Today’s Grammy music is abysmal due to the computers involved (copy, paste, repeat). The music is indicitative of the LACK of the creativity, the brain muscles that computers will never EVER mimic (Artificial intelligence is a pile of crap).

    We used to have human secretaries…that was replaced by email which makes YOU do their work. Phones are now automated piles of crap. The hospital is wasting zillions on technology that doesn’t make the patient any healthier and in fact, the hospital has become a pill pusher drug dealer for Big Pharma.

    Tell me what isn’t destroyed by technology? Big Chemistry has put 80k toxic chemicals into the environment, not to mention the nano-sized aluminum being sprayed over your heads daily by military jets (proven by scientists that have been blackballed)…guess what this technology is doing to your health? Nano particles pass through your lungs into your blood and into your brain, impairing your cognition, causing autism, cancer.

    So technology is UP, autism has gone from 1/5000 to I believe 1/47! All thanks to computers and chemicals.

    We have people who can’t look you in the eye but can use their phone to make movies. They can’t read a map but have GPS. They have calculators but can’t give you change back from the register.

    Welcome to Zombieland and the HR dept reflects this.

    You think it’s bad now? Give it another 20 years. You’ll wonder where your freedom went.

    The mind will ridicule anything it can’t understand…which is what they’re counting on.

    • @Jack, you found the answer. The whole purpose of the internet is this….Do it yourself. And the corollary….me first. Want to buy movie/theatre/airline tickets, check your bank/brokerage balances? All of this, and more shifted the labor from companes to us. We are the Uber/Lyft/Grubhub of our own lives. When I joined my previous firm, a major airline had a call center take an entire floor of the building. That office is long gone, along with the jobs and boost to the local economy. I am not a Luddite, but I am not a corporatist either.

  12. @Jack: “We have people who can’t look you in the eye but can use their phone to make movies. They can’t read a map but have GPS. They have calculators but can’t give you change back from the register.”

    The comedian Steven Wright said, “Suppose you could have everything in the world! Where would you put it?”

    HR now has every resume on the planet but still can’t fill vacant jobs. In fact, HR is so enraptured with the tech that delivers all those resumes that it has to rationalize that the failure to fill jobs is the fault of the labor force, which must be unskilled.

    Like you, I love technology and couldn’t operate without it. But it’s a tool, not an end. One look at the investment community tells us that technology is now an end in itself, and that new technology in search of problems to solve is more valuable than real solutions to recognized problems. Welcome to meta-land, where it’s all about you re-defining your problem to suit the solution we’ve created for you.

    Ever talk to a venture investor about how the cool tech he or she is funding actually works and what it does and can’t do? They don’t know anything except it’s cool.

    Gimme that hammer. This egg sure looks like a nail!

  13. How can HR foster good relationships when they don’t even bother to let you know the status/decision or reply to status inquiry after the interview?

    • @Peter: “We’re too busy buying more candidates from ZipRecruiter… go away.”

    • I interviewed with a company a few years ago – the HR person at the time said this would move forward and they were highly interested. I had one more interview and heard NOTHING. Even a couple inquiries resulted in silence. A few weeks later I saw a person in a store who I think was the HR person – when she saw me and with a look of fear in her eyes she started pushing her cart at high speed.

      All I wonder is what did I do?

      Also, a word to the wise: If you need to reject a candidate, please be professional. You never know when someone will be in position to buy something from your company!

      • “Also, a word to the wise: If you need to reject a candidate, please be professional. You never know when someone will be in position to buy something from your company!”

        I’ll one up you, which has been the butt of an inside joke between some co-workers and myself:

        “You never know when someone will be in position to work with you!”

        (I happened to be rejected at another local school doing almost the same work I am doing now at a different school and their decision making process was a bit head scratching. Fast forward a year, the people got in on a grant we are the lead on. That’s all I’ll say, but use your imagination.)

        • @David: “It’s a small world, Fool!” Someone must have missed that during HR training…

  14. Forgive me if I am redundant. I haven’t read through all of the reasons because I don’t want to raise my blood pressure.

    HR folks are so obsessed with a “place at the table” that they fail to look inward at their own wasteful practices. Human capital accounting is still an abstract concept and in practice it is just checking off a bunch of boxes. There is no accountability for poor outcomes, they bury evidence of their missteps under their confidentiality policies.

    They are infatuated with technology and love to say things like “garbage-in = garbage-out” “analysis paralysis” “under the iceberg” “the top of the pyramid” but they have no clue what any of that actually means.

    They are overwhelmed by the shear volume of data they take in so it is easier to avoid taking it a step further even if it could result in better decision-making. Hello! – that’s what data is for in the first place. Data management without thoughtful analysis just means making the wrong decisions faster.

    • @S.C.: “Human capital accounting” indeed! A Wharton researcher famously pointed out that modern accounting systems are not set up to account for the costs of vacant jobs. So HR keeps the data coming and keeps decision making at bay. No wonder there’s a talent shortage! It make a business appear more profitable because total salaries are lower!

    • A systems analysis course I took in 1970 told us,
      “Computerizing a process without analyzing it only speeds up the mess.”

      • @Peter: Thanks for the reminder. I have great respect for folks in IT and software development, but in the past couple of decades many venture-funded software companies seem to let database jockeys do their “process analysis” with the result that systems are designed not to facilitate a process but to sell software to naive customers who think they’re now “high tech.”

        Hence we have “applicant tracking systems” that track ASCII characters rather than help hire people.

  15. Love the story of the hiring committee who wouldn’t hire anyone they had “rejected.” Might actually have reflected poorly on their decision making abilities, ya think?

    Perhaps another “gift” of our technology age is the mistaken belief that if you just look long and hard enough a more perfect or cheaper plane ticket, thingamabob, job candidate, or mate is out there. Why make a decision, weigh pros and cons, accept differences and limits when you can just keep looking for that one right [name commodity here]? I’ve laughingly given up on online dating because after the first or second coffee date I’d start hearing about “the perfect woman” of my date’s dreams. Last time, I had the gall to point out it might not be a relationship this person was searching for, but the dream of a relationship. Ah, the language that followed. Point being, in the “big sky data” world of Indeed and ATS, there’s always someone who MIGHT be better for the position.

    • @Itinerant: “Let’s interview JUST ONE MORE!!!”

    • Better is the enemy of good enough

  16. I agree with pretty much everything folks have said here about HR and the methods they use to (supposedly) make better hiring decisions. I just want to elaborate a little here on what I feel are other HR methods that I’ve seen:

    – Like just about everybody I know, I’ve gotten a lot of those “…we’ll keep your resume on file…” emails when either applying or interviewing for jobs. As David said up front, why not look for people from your “database”/files if you want to hire later (as opposed to putting the jobs up on the jobsites, paying recruiters, etc.).

    I think that most of the time, their “files” or “database” means the Trash folder/Recycle Bin. So whatever “database” they might have isn’t really growing much (if at all) when they contact candidates and don’t end up hiring them.

    – I recently was contacted by an HR person from a company well known for developing what I’d call patient portal software. I also had to take a “personality test”, then after having a phone interview, a very long assessment. After that, I was turned down for the job and got the same boilerplate “we’ll keep your resume on file…”. When I asked the HR person “Can you tell me why I wasn’t selected?”, she said “We can’t tell you because that would compromise our hiring process”. Sounds to me like one of those excuses that was elaborated in today’s ATH.

    – Recruiters/staffing agencies are just as bad…they contact you about openings, get you in the door (supposedly), then part company with you if you’re not selected. Seems like they’d want to set up a “database” of candidates too, but I suspect that if they have one, it’s like the ones I mentioned above.

    • @Bob P: 95% of recruiters/staffing agencies are as bad as 95% of HR jockeys. Dialing for dollars.

  17. Here is a typical scenario:

    I see a job advertised by the hiring company. It runs on LinkedIn, indeed, etc. forever. (Just like so many jobs there that are weeks or months old). I may or may not apply, it depends.

    Some time later, I see an agency advertise the same job “blind”. I may even get a LinkedIn Inmail from an agency recruiter with a link to the blind ad, or they just cut and paste. My favorite game is to use phrases from the hiring company’s ad (which is often still on LI,) to identify the company. Then reply back to the agency recruiter “Oh this is the job for X Corporation, right? I already applied. Can you find out why I didn’t get an interview (or some similar assignment that I know they won’t do).”

    I have yet to get a reply back from one of those emails. LOL!

    • I like the hesitation from recruiters when I do the same and tell them the name of the company. It’s like it’s some big secret, and I’ve somehow cracked the code.

      It’s really fun when I say, “Man, that job has been posted for months. I wonder how the recruiters all fight for their cut of the fee.”

    • I’ve had stuff like this happen to me before, where the job that a recruiter is peddling is exactly the same as what is being advertised by the client themselves. Of course, like you mention, when you probe for more information, you get nothing more than the standard boiler plate talking points.

      In other words, it’s not like the recruiter is taking the existing job spec, asking thoughtful questions, digesting the information and re-writing something different and more effective, let alone actually finding “alternate” sources of candidates. Yet, the recruiter is going to expect to be paid top tier dollar for making any successful introduction.

  18. I interviewed a highly qualified candidate for a role on my team, and it was clear early on that her skills were better suited for a more senior-level role. We didn’t have any of those roles available at the time, but one opened up a year later. I reached out to the candidate and after a few interviews, hired her for the role. To Nick’s point, I saved countless hours scanning resumes, additional budget for advertising, and weeks with the role being unfilled. Sure, it doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it truly is the best way to hire qualified candidates quickly and painlessly – completely worth the investment of maintaining the relationship!

    • If that were the case at my organization, the candidate would have to reapply because we are not permitted to “circumvent” the system.

    • @Dawn: Ah, thoughtful hiring…!!

  19. We use Nick’s methods in real life. I’m going to put in an air conditioning system, and the vendors I am “interviewing” don’t come from throwing darts at the Yellow Pages. We went to our neighborhood message board and asked for recommendations. I bet most people do this. If it’s good enough for our personal life, why not good enough for our job life?

  20. HR is trapped by a simple fact; it doesn’t want to do its job, the heart of which is reading cvs, analysis and engagement.

    Hence it uses on line platforms/ATS to swamp itself with data which it cannot be bothered to read – complains that it cannot ‘find’ the talent and then decides the solution is to buy yet more technology with “proven” results to find that elixir of the perfect candidate without the hard work.

    The UK Civil Service is notorious for this. It states online that candidates must fill out (quite long) forms then states that it will not necessarily read the entirety of what it asks candidates to do. So many good people won’t bother (why invest so much time in an application if the employer won’t even take the time to read the form?. The Civil Service then complains it cannot compete with other employers to find the right people.

    The solution? You’ve guessed it: more ATS, more ‘scientific’ HR methodology, bogus psychometrics all of which adds up to empricised failure.

    HR resourcing partners are basically recruiters minus the skill or integrity (irony intended).

    Out of curiosity – was HR ever a respected profession?

    • Maybe, but that was a long time ago.

      I took a class in HR development and the instructor gave us a short “history lesson” about the origins of the HR profession. She said that when the pyramids were being built, part of the worker’s wages was a ration of beer and someone needed to manage that process.

      That may have been the last time they did anything useful.

  21. There are five letters in the alphabet that EVERY job seeker hates: H, R, and A, T, S.

    When you put them together, you get: TRASH

    Which is where your resume will end up if you “apply online” or if you hand a copy of your resume to a recruitment booth rat at a “Career Expo” (i.e., Job Fair), because he/she will dump it in the trash for you.

    Establishing personal connections is the way to go if you want a job. You’re not going to accomplish anything if you sit at home in front of the computer and fire off resumes on Taleo. Get off your butt, go out and meet people!