In the June 2, 2015 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wonders what the problem is with employers. They really can’t find the hires they need??


Why do companies seem to have such a hard time finding the people they say they need — the “talent?” I apply for jobs that I know I’m a fit for based on what they say they need. We do a short dance, and they stop talking to me and move on to the next applicant. Most of the time I’m talking to Personnel. It’s not just me. I know several very successful people out of work who keep having the same experience. Is it us, or the employers?

Nick’s Reply

We’ve been discussing how human resources departments, technology and job boards contribute to the problems employers claim to have when trying to hire the talent they need.

But I think the real solution lies not just in eliminating the artificial obstacles to recruiting and hiring. Employers must learn how to actively do it right. And there’s no mystery about how to do it right — and no artifice in it at all.

The problem you and your friends face is that you’re not being recruited. You’re being solicited. Recruiting right doesn’t require more technology or more investment or specialists of any kind. The best recruiting and hiring tool is already in place, waiting to be deployed.

recruitBut there’s the rub. Very, very few employers deploy the army of recruiters that already exists in their ranks. Line up 10 managers and they’ll give you 10 different answers to the question, What is your No. 1 job function?

You can take all the skills of all managers and pile them up and they won’t outweigh the one most important skill of a good manager: hiring great people.

If a company keeps failing to hire great people who stick around and do profitable work, then it has to take a look at how good its managers are at this one function.

Every manager’s No. 1 job

Managers who hide behind HR — or who fear HR — don’t deserve the title. Managers who don’t recruit should be sent packing.

If managers are not personally spending at least 20 to 30 percent (that’s one to two days per week) of their time identifying, meeting, cultivating, recruiting, interviewing and hiring great people, they’re not earning their keep. Hiring is every manager’s No. 1 job.

I know this will shock many managers (and HR executives), but hiring is not and cannot be HR’s job. In fact, HR needs to get out of the way entirely — and leave recruiting up to the managers who run the departments that do the work, and that understand firsthand the tasks and tools required for the business.

Just ask anyone who has ever interviewed with an HR representative: Did HR demonstrate any expertise in the skills it was judging you on?

Only managers can do that. And it’s time they started doing their jobs and making their companies proud. I’ll bet they’d make job seekers happier, too — because interviews would suddenly become more relevant and intelligent. And HR could go back to processing payroll.

Judge employers by their managers

For job seekers, it’s worth judging employers by who’s on the front line of recruiting. Does the hiring manager make first contact with you, or is that a personnel jockey calling? What do you imagine would happen if you referred just-say-nosuch calls to your administrative assistant (or agent) — instead of talking to the employer yourself? The employer would be appalled, of course. So, why should you be fielding calls from administrators when you’re being recruited? Where’s the manager that wants to hire you?

My point is that job seekers — especially when contact is initiated by the employer — should politely request to have that first discussion happen with the hiring manager, or no dice. No resume. No filling out applications. No employment tests. No social security numbers. First let’s see what that hiring manager has to say, and if it’s worthwhile, go from there. Hey — we all need to weed out the tire kickers, right?

If you’re afraid you’ll “lose an opportunity,” consider this: Most inquiries from employers go nowhere. But you already know that. The ones that lead to a job usually start with the decision maker. No manager is going to sacrifice a candidate he or she really wants to meet if the candidate declines to talk to HR first. The rest are tire kickers.

I think that’s the approach you and your friends need to start taking. Assert yourselves. I think there’s nothing to lose, and you may very well get an audience with a real decision maker.

Here’s a heads-up for all employers: The talent crisis is managers who don’t know how to recruit. The shocking solution to the “talent problem” is for managers to do their own recruiting.

How does “the manager’s No. 1 job” rank in importance at your company? Would you rather be recruited and interviewed by an actual manager, or by HR? When you are rejected, who rejects you: HR or the manager who would hire you? Why do companies put middlemen in the hiring process, when middlemen just bog it down and lead to errors?

: :

  1. A related problem to companies’ inefficient hiring practices is the poor job training offered. Companies complain that they can’t find people with the talent and skills they need. They expect new hires to come already trained and skilled. They even import “ready made” talent, rather than accepting that it’s their responsibility to train their own employees. Government programs and college course aren’t the answer. Companies always used to train their own people. Now they think it’s not their job any more.

  2. I’m proud to say that I work at a clinic which does it right.

    I’m a licensed massage therapist, meaning that I’m one of the front-line healthcare professionals who create the service my company sells. Our company employs about 50-75 people total, has no HR department, and three levels of management above me:

    -An excellent manager, who was a therapist himself for fifteen years before being promoted from the ranks. Still getting a feel for the management position, but knows the therapists’ job cold.

    -A pretty darn good principal owner, who is primarily a businesswoman. But she took the extraordinary step, when she decided to create a massage therapy business, of going back to school and getting her license as a therapist, then working with her own hands for a couple of years while she built the clinic around her.

    I’m not qualified to judge her business skills, but the place seems to have grown nicely under her leadership, and she treats the staff pretty well, so no serious complaints. And she knows the therapist end of the job as well as any owner who hasn’t made a lifetime career out of massage therapy realistically can.

    -A board of directors, who are purely money people, and whom the therapists never see.

    When we hire administration or business people, the manager makes the contact, picks whom he likes, and then kicks the choice upstairs for the owner and board to weigh in. When we hire therapists, however, the manager still does the talking part… but the hands-on work is judged by the lead therapists — senior people who are still doing the work the new therapist is applying to do — and if two separate lead therapists recommend the applicant’s work while the manager approves of their “fit” for the clinic, they make the call. It’s possible that the higher levels sign off on it, but if so, I’ve never heard of them challenging the lead therapist/manager combination’s decision.

    Hiring — I think they’re doing it right.

  3. It would be really simple for a CEO or other high level executive to change the culture regarding hiring and the “talent shortage.” All he or she would have to do is say this to managers and make it the number one evaluation factor:

    “If your star performer resigned today, could you, as soon as that person left your office, place a phone call to three people who are capable of doing that job, know who you are, and might be interested?”

    If a manager can’t answer, yes, the manager is not doing his or her job.

    Note that I said simple, not easy.

  4. Companies I don’t want to work for….

    1) I reach out to a hiring manager directly only to be told to contact their HR department????

    2) A hiring manager who cancels phone interviews last minute! Yes I had that happen 2x with this particular hiring manager and he still has not re-scheduled the phone interview. If he does reach out to me, I won’t be answering. If he can’t manage his time, he sends me a clear message I don’t want to work for him!

    3) A hiring manager who brings is other peers into the interview process. I had 2 onsite interviews in front of a group of 10 people that had NOTHING to do with the dept I would be working for. I can’t stand lazy indecisive decision makers. The job is still not filled a year later!

  5. Good Answer for a job seeker and management:

    Years ago when I was looking for work on a prior occasion, a recruiter contacted me. I was a perfect fit and he got me the interview. It was set up as a conference call with the 3 department heads I would be working with. However, when the call came in, it was a deviation with an apology of “miscommunication” and a request to just talk about the job description with what seemed to be a screening clerk.
    My instincts were to not to go forward, but I wanted the opportunity. The next 20 minutes consisted of irrelevant questions and my answers to a person who had no comprehension of the answers I was providing. And, there were no answers to my questions, only “I’ll have to ask.”
    I now find myself searching for work again. I will be strong and not be in fear of loosing the opportunity.

    I’ve also learned, while in an executive position, some operational managers could care less about hiring and had no idea about hiring. Their bottom line was to get the job done, no matter the cost. When left to it, they always chose the ill-qualified person who created immense liability for the company. These managers simply lacked judgment, and this was the fault of the executives.

    The manager who does not have time to find talent is often too busy putting out fires because he/she failed to hire good people in the first place and lacked the passion for their job and the company they worked for.

    Now I know some of you say corporate America isn’t loyal, but if you are not passionate about every job you get and perform it to the best of your ability, your doing yourself a disservice.

    So, if management doesn’t have time for you, that’s isn’t the company “culture” where you want to work next.

  6. Nick, I like your point about the percentage of time a manager needs to be interviewing. Staying well-networked makes great business sense, since the employer also gains as the manager keeps aware of quality work, trends and best practices across the industry.

    Sadly, the perpetual squeeze of do-more-with-less creates a false economy: “working managers” end up with sizable project loads of their own; actual managing tasks are greatly reduced (often to annual performance appraisals only); more HR people are needed to search for and screen (out) applicants they may understand little bit about; and Employers are left frustrated because they believe there are no qualified job applicants.

    Nobody wins.

  7. Hi Nick, I’ve been on both sides. Usually I find that someone from HR finds my resume/LinkedIn profile and sees a potential fit, sets up a 30 minute screening call, and then it goes to a screening call with a hiring manager. Very rarely has the process ended after the screening call with HR.

    Just recently I got a call directly from a hiring manager two weeks after applying for a job online. We had a nice 45 minute chat and he told me I’m now on his short list of candidates. A refreshingly direct approach. I wish this happened more.

    Where things haven’t been rosy is like this recent example where I applied for a job online, got a call from a recruiter an hour later, which led to a 1 hour call with the hiring manager, at the end of which she told me she’d like to bring me in for an interview. I went in for a 2 1/2 hour marathon of 30 minute meetings with the team, including the hiring manager. That afternoon the internal recruiter told me they’d like me to come in again to meet more members of the team that were out during my first meeting.

    So the day before my 2nd in person interview, the in-house recruiter calls me to tell me that the position has been put on hold as they re-evaluate their needs, and there is no time frame. I asked her if I might touch base at some point to see where their needs stand and was told they don’t know if or when it will go forwards.

    I didn’t like this kind of brush off after expending this much time and effort to learn about the company and demonstrate how I would add value, so I figured out the hiring manager’s email and sent her a note saying I was sorry to hear the position has been put on hold, was there any time frame around this as I feel I can really add value in this position. Sent that email yesterday and still awaiting a response, which I suspect won’t arrive. Perhaps she’s on a gag order as the company has been under financial pressure, and perhaps lost budget. But who knows.

    Is it fair of me to expect some sort of closure in this situation? I would think that if I had made any sort of connection that the hiring manager would at least acknowledge me with some communication. Maybe I’m a wishful thinker in this day and age.

  8. Bingo! dead on. I’ve been the hiring manager, an agency recruiter and an inside recruiter. And an active networker and connector throughout.

    Everyone’s job is to make their organization succeed, and that as Nick pointed out is only going to happen via good people.

    As a manager and inside recruiter I’ve seen countless times hiring managers who aren’t networking managers who believe that finding people is their top priority. Action counts, and most so-called hiring managers via their behavior and priorities really say, hiring is low priority.. for numerous reasons. And they aren’t held accountable for not meeting their hiring needs.

    That HR crew getting the crap beaten out of them is very likely trying to also wrestle some manager to the ground to simply do their hiring jobs, respond, show some sign of life…do something!

    I don’t agree that HR should get out of the way. Or I’ll say it differently. The best scenario is a manager who not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to recruiting for the company. Directly.

    What works very well too, is a hiring manager that invests a modest amount of time to educate their HR recruiters on how to spot potential, so they can become good facilitators, finding new sources, becoming a conduit of talent to a manager. People they know the manager will want to meet and broker the contact. That is, become a useful resource for network building. It’s helpful, appreciated, and a value add

    Just to get it down to “this is someone you’ll want to meet, and do some block and tackling to make it happen…then step aside.

    Unfortunately as Nick said, based on real inside experience, managers are reactive, not proactive. Reacting to usually a self created staffing crises where they think a networking pipeline has a faucet on it you can turn on at will. Instead of investing their time as Nick noted by constantly networking to build their base of potential talent.

    When I was a manager I often had budgetary handcuffs on. And learned that if a req opened up, it could quickly disappear. So I positioned myself to pick up the phone and be able to say “are you still interested?” if so, I’d fill that req so fast it would make your head spin. That could only happen because I knew early on that reqs are a license to hire…but recruiting is ongoing

  9. Nick … I rarely disagree with you completely, but this is one of those times.

    Hiring is definitely not a managers #1 job.

    It’s #2. #1 is making sure you keep the great employees you’ve already recruited.

  10. @Chris: I agree. A CEO could trigger this change pretty quickly, and I like your test!

    @Cynthia: You boil it down quite well. “If management doesn’t have time for you, that isn’t the company “culture” where you want to work next.” It really is that simple!

    @H Bruce Wilson: Thanks for pointing out the other benefits of active recruiting by managers. It keeps them tuned in to their professional community!

    @Larry: Of course it’s reasonable to expect closure. You invested a lot of your time. An employer owes you the courtesy of a follow-up. Since you met with the manager, it should be the manager. This article puts a point on the idea:

    @Don: What you suggest is a good approach to get things started. “What works very well too, is a hiring manager that invests a modest amount of time to educate their HR recruiters on how to spot potential, so they can become good facilitators, finding new sources, becoming a conduit of talent to a manager.”

    @Bob, Minnesota: Point taken!

  11. Well I just got closure. Looking through some job listings today I just saw the position I interviewed for that was supposedly “on hold” listed anew. I shot the in-house recruiter a cheerful note about, oh, I see the position was listed again today, does this mean it’s moving forward? 30 minutes later I get a form rejection email “we thank you for your time, but have decided to pursue another candidate, blah, blah” email from a different HR person. I wrote back immediately thanking them for their honest feedback, and wondering why last week their recruiter told me the position was on hold. I ended by saying that I have no issues with them deciding to pursue another candidate, but I do expect honesty in all my professional communications.

    So this new HR person writes back apologizing for the “miscommunication” and suggesting I can call her with any concerns. And this is after I already emailed the hiring manager yesterday asking her when the position might become active again to no response. I can handle bad news, but I hate liars. This is a publicly traded company on the skids, I have half a mind to answer back copying the hiring manager and SVP about my experience, but I realize it’s time to move on and refocus my energies…

  12. I am a hiring manager who has to “recruit on the sly”. I am not supposed to recruit. That is HRs job to do poorly. They say I might be “biased” and only recruit people like me. That is true. I only recruit hardworking, smart, articulate people. I am very discriminating in that way. Everyone in my org has those traits. Of course HR means the mystical “diversity”. My portion of the organization also has the largest number of people with different backgrounds. I have contacts and can cast a wide net and comb for quality. HR has a website.

  13. @rkc: I love it. A manager who has to sneak around recruiting because HR will get upset… sheesh!

  14. @Larry: I wouldn’t call that closure at all. But I’d bet that job was another fake job. I’d really like to see an investigation into why companies post fake jobs, my guess is they’re getting some sort of tax deduction, so as long as the job remains advertised they can say to the IRS “see? We’re hiring! Reward us!” And they have fake interviews just to play it safe so no one catches on. Yeah, I know, I’m crossing into conspiracy theory territory here (classic symptom of getting old!). Also, it’s noble to want to “move on” but I think it’s because every one of us is taking the high ground that corporate behavior continues to deteriorate, there’s no incentive for them to stop behaving badly. Maybe if they began getting complaints from job applicants the way companies get customer complaints (something better than Glassdoor which is crap), things may improve (though I’ve given up hope). On that note…

    I’ve been reading this blog since the “WTF is going on” post back in Oct ’13. Is *anything* improving? I honestly don’t think so. We’ve still got fake job postings and delusional hiring managers and useless recruiters — one of those called/emailed me just the other day, saying “I am so impressed with your online portfolio!” That’s funny because my portfolio is now password-protected. Still trying to decide if/how to respond to this dolt…

  15. So much of a company’s resources is spent on defending against lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes, unfortunately.

    I agree with what you say – hiring should be among a manager’s top priorities – but how often is that responsibility taken away from them by ‘Human Resources’ departments acting to shield the company from lawsuits?

    That may also be why we have to deal with ridiculous job descriptions, convoluted application processes and the wall of silence that greets a job seeker who wants to know where they stand.

  16. Is any of this relevant to government jobs or government procurement?

    I work in a field where managers every so rarely recruit, often because half of the jobs on offer aren’t real jobs– they are prospective jobs on offer IF and ONLY IF a company or consortium of companies win the government bid. Most companies who bid end up losing.

    What happens 80 percent of the time is that you end up dealing with HR intern types poring over every so specific job descriptions written by government bureaucrats. They are no different from HR in most industries, in that they Google and LinkedIn stalk technical experts based ONLY on keywords… with NO IDEA about the fields involved. Job descriptions, keywords etc on your CV MUST match the job descriptions handed down by the government bureaucrats in the bid.

    You’d be lucky if they give you the chance to write a bio/summary that has an adequate keyword match that satisfies both the HR jockeys and the bureaucrats.

    One could be an expert in a particular field, have the experience, but unless your job title given to you by your employer is EXACTLY what is called for in the government bid, you have no shot in hell.

    It’s insanely inefficient.

    Thankfully, I get most of my work by talking in person or over the phone with managers and other technical people who know or know of me.

    These HR people are just pests– absolute pests. They pester me with “opportunities” all the time.. all I end up with is forms to fill out. hahaha.

    Is there room for managers in government to be freed up to hire based on ability? Heck no, government procurement and certainly government jobs are all tied up in a byzantine web of KSAs (knowledge skills and abilities).. all in the worst possible ATS ever.. USA Jobs.

  17. @Steven: that gets to the heart of it, many hiring managers seem to be gagged from giving any feedback, let alone actual meaningful feedback. Despite all the noble reasons Nick sites in his articles about how treating job applicants like customers benefits both parties, there can’t be much upside in many corporate environments in sharing the unvarnished truth about why an interview didn’t work out unless you are the rare decent hiring manager who exercises some measure of autonomy in your workplace.

    Even then there is always a chemistry element involved that can’t be quantified, and in situations where you have to interview with every member of the team the hiring by consensus ethos can torpedo your candidacy for often arbitrary reasons. Since when did hiring managers lose the gumption to hire someone they actively like, rather than settle for the most mutually agreeable option?

    Because of the arbitrariness of why one candidate is selected over another, and the reluctance of anyone in these litigious times to tell the truth, I’ve given up on seeking feedback, I just want a yes or no.

    And to tie back into why hiring managers don’t lead recruiting, it must be directly related to how sensitive a company is to potential bad news or adverse publicity.

  18. @Larry: I was at a gathering over the weekend where a tech manager explained that, at her company, after several team members interview a candidate, just ONE “no” vote (for whatever reason) sinks the hire.

    She has found ways around this, but must go to extreme measures, when she wants to hire someone. I just don’t get why a manager would not make the final decision on a hire, no matter what the team says. That’s a key function of a manager. It’s all gotten so kooky – in some places, HR really does run the business.

    What’s more startling is that everyone accepts this.

  19. Too true Nick. Perhaps a future post could provide strategy on doing the job in the interview when the interview consists of 5 back to back 30 minute sessions with various team members. The whole thing becomes too much about slotting and coordination and by the time the interview formalities of tell me about your experience are over and it’s time to take control of the interview, they are wrapping up because the next interviewer is on deck.

    Maybe I just need to try to take control of the interview right off the bat and say I realize we only have 30 minutes to speak, but I have definite ideas about how I can add value that may take more time than we are allotted. Can we speak offline? Or something like that..

  20. I once had a similar discussion with a group of Digital Design Engineers who were very frustrated with their hiring process. Their hiring team had 8 people including the hiring manager. Any 1 “No” vote would result in a “No Hire.”

    Both team members and the manager told me it was unnerving to get excited about a candidate, yet any one of them could throw the entire process and they’d all have to start again.

    These otherwise bright people happen to work with something called logic gates. If you’ve studied computers, you may have heard of AND and OR gates. I saw a direct parallel to their line of work and their situation. I referred to an 8-input NAND gate known as the 74LS30. (You can Google that part number.)

    74LS30 works by becoming active only when all 8 of its inputs are active. If any of the 8 isn’t, the gate won’t be either. So I asked them to tell me how many combinations could activate the 74LS30. Almost instinctively, they said 2 to the 8th is 256 — there’s only 1 combination in 256 that results in being active.

    Well, that’s your hiring process, I told them. Your hiring somebody is only a 1/256 proposition (like the 74LS30 you love.)

    At first, they were fearful, thinking they couldn’t ignore the possibility of a bad hire if 1 member objected. I suggested unless the concern is absolutely legitimate and provable (e.g., lack of knowledge of a must-have skill) to go with majority rules. And if the hiring manager decided Yes, that overrules everything, esp. if he’s courageous enough to sink with his ship.

    If you’re all adults when a conflict comes up, handle it! Meanwhile, hire the person already and get some real work done.

    This unanimous verdict style is especially prevalent in places that claim to be all about teamwork. Fear of making hiring mistakes is rampant, especially when some hiring managers bury it in 255+ combinations of inept hiring committees.

  21. Steven and Larry:
    Perhaps the company is laying the groundwork for an H-1B recruit. They post the job and have interviews, then magically the only proper resource is available overseas.

  22. @Larry: I like the idea of walking in and politely offering to answer any and all questions, “but I’d love to take 5 minutes to show you how I think I can help your business be more successful…” If you have to do it 5 times, so be it. But it’s best done with whoever owns the team.

    @Glenn: Ha! I love your NAND gate analogy, because it’s more than an analogy. And yes, I know a bit about gates. NAND gates confused me till a EE explained it to me. I learned basic logic when I had to understand gates in order to work with EEs as a headhunter long ago. I think you’ve got an article in that comment! What a great way to make the point!

    And I agree about why this style is so common: It deflects accountability. And that’s poor management. People just don’t want to negotiate; they just want to vote and walk away. “It wasn’t my fault!”

  23. I agree that very few managers recruit. They hire or turn over the hiring to HR once someone gives notice or quits w/o notice or drops dead. Suddenly, they need someone who can do the job perfectly w/o any training or ramp up time yesterday, and then it is a mad scramble to find the perfect candidate. But if the managers haven’t maintained contacts and connections, then hiring while in crisis mode is even difficult, the work gets re-distributed to the remaining employees, who then also get burned out and whose own work begins to suffer if this goes on for too long. Sometimes good people leave, and managers cannot control it–the husband gets a job out of state, so she leaves, or the employee decides to go back to school or leaves to care for a sick family member.

    @Steve & Larry: the other reasons phantom jobs may be posted is to give HR more busy work (justifies their jobs) and to gather data.

    A couple of weeks ago a relative said that employers can’t find good engineers because the kids today aren’t majoring in engineering. I called bull–there are lots of kids majoring in engineering. The problem is that too many employers want young people with tons of experience and education, e.g., they want to hire a 20 year old kid who has 15 years of professional work experience in exactly the job and duties as their vacancy, who has a master’s degree AND who is willing to work for $6.00 without benefits. When that kind of candidate doesn’t fall into their laps, they howl about the “talent shortage”. There is none–not with so many people still unemployed or underemployed. I might want to buy diamonds, but balk at the price. It doesn’t mean there is a paucity of diamonds, only that I don’t want to pay the asking price. That is the case with too many employers today. And they don’t want to train (I know, that’s another topic for another time).

  24. @Donna: Re #3,it sounds like a firm w/a bunch of time-wasters on their payroll. I’ll bet they get little accomplished on a daily basis as evidenced by their failure to hire after a year.

  25. @Larry Where did you see the reposting? Was it on the company’s site or a 3rd party? Many ‘jobs’ show up on 3rd party sites without the company’s knowledge; The Ladders is notorious for this.

    The time to ask for feedback is while the interview process is still ongoing. Once the ‘we picked someone else’ message has been delivered, the conversation is over from the employer’s perspective. They have nothing to gain from reopening it. When it’s your turn to ask questions in the interview, include asking for feedback. You can say things like ‘Is there anything else you need from me to have a clear picture of my qualifications?’ or ‘Do you have any concerns I need to address in order to be a top candidate?’. You still may not get any feedback, but your chances are much greater if you’re still in the running.

  26. @chris: it turned up on a 3rd party site, but when I emailed HR asking if it was re-opened, I got the form rejection letter as a response (nice touch). I guess they realized they were caught in a lie, and just decided to fess up. As I mentioned, in a later email they apologized for the “miscommunication”.

    Because HR asked to schedule a 2nd round interview, hours after my 1st ended, I suspect that the hiring manager made this request, and then later in the process someone voiced an objection, derailing the process. Of course I’ll never know.

    And I agree, asking for feedback in the interview can work. I just did it in a phone interview this morning and the hiring manager told me he thought I had all the necessary qualifications for the job but he wondered how interested I am as this job (B2B SaaS product role) is a departure from my past roles (consumer facing product) where he can see a straight line. I told him that the quality and stability of the company is very important to me as I’ve worked for some unstable companies in the past that have led to job switching, and that I think this company would provide me the opportunity to advance and take on more responsibility as I demonstrate value. He liked this answer and told me he’d set up a follow up call with another exec for me to explore the role further.

    No ambiguities about next steps. Though it’s usually after the in-person that you play the waiting game. I’ll have to employ the same strategy if it advances to that point..

  27. oh, now turning up on a 3rd party site as a product manager role, whereas before it was for sr. product manager. Perhaps the budget for the role was cut..

  28. @Nick: I read this, and other articles, and just shake my head that companies that treat candidates like this seem to have ZERO grasp of how their actions – as a collective – are poisoning the candidate reservoir.

    So an open question: Why is it that I, a “dumb jock engineer with no managerial experience” can grasp this, but the people pulling down seven figures and up… don’t see it? Or is it that they do see it and simply
    don’t care?

    @Glenn: Nailed it. It’s the fear of a DA DUH DAAAA “bad hire”. This is why one of my favorite questions to ask is “How are decisions made here at the company?” A hiring manager needs to have a set; they can take recommendations from the interview team, and I acknowledge that different perspectives ARE important. But let me put on my drill instructor’s hat… (And “trigger warning” for the paragraph ahead)

    Lissen up, cupcake. You wanted the manager’s chair. You wanted the manager’s title. You wanted the manager’s salary and perks. Well along with that, snowflake, comes the responsibility of making decisions in the face of incomplete and sometimes contradictory evidence. It comes with the job. Either throw on a fresh pair of undies, grow a set, and start doing your damned job, or step aside for someone who has a set of cojones. If you are letting even one vote short-circuit your hiring decision, you’re not a leader, you’re not even a manager; you’re a camp counselor who lets the whims and interests of those you are supposed to be in charge of make your decisions for you – lead and decide, or step aside.

    Seriously, I just had a phone conversation with a recruiter for a position. Long story short, it turns out it’s for a position for which I interviewed a YEAR AND A HALF AGO. That position, already a desperate needed-to-fill job then, has been unfilled for a year and a half. If I were the hiring manager’s manager, here’s what my closed-door conversation with them and the site HR manager would start with:

    “OK, you’ve had this position open fo 18 months. It’s a line-level position, no direct reports. You’ve interviewed ## people for it. Given that there are 90+ million people un-or-under-employed in this country, please justify to me why you can’t fill this job.” And when the sputtered excuses start flying: “You have enough to do that you asked for, and received, permission to open a slot. You’re indeciseveness is costing this company time, money, and customers.”

    Of course, the solution is to open up the window and hire an “imperfect fit” with that upper-level manager’s consent. And that’s why it’ll never happen… because if they hire that imperfect fit and they are – DA DUH DAAAA – a bad hire, that upper-level manager has just given the line manager a get-out-of-jail-free card. “Well, I wanted these 17 things, but so-and-so told me to hire someone who wasn’t qualified (by MY list), and they didn’t work out… so it’s THEIR fault.”

    NO manager, at ANY level, is going to expose themselves to that risk.

    And so the cycle perpetuates.

  29. @Dave Hunt: your comments and tale of the job vacancy still open after 18 months are all too common. I, too, have found so-called managers who seem to spend more time and energy searching for reasons NOT to hire than taking a chance and hiring the person who doesn’t meet all 500 of their criteria. I think you’re right–they’re so scared of hiring someone who won’t work out that they’re paralyzed to the point that they hire no one at all, even when there is money in the budget for the job, even when the job is important to the life of the company or agency. Here’s a newsflash to managers: nobody’s perfect, including you. Sometimes managers hire the wrong person because your hiring process is flawed, you’ve devised a set of criteria that no one can meet, you refuse to train those that meet 70% of your perfect employee wishlist, the salary you are offering is too low for your requirements for the job and for the job itself.

    I’ve talked to hiring managers who hide behind HR’s skirts, then I’ll see the same job posted again and again….so either the funding got pulled, the perfect candidate never showed up, or the culture of the place is such that managers get fired for not hiring the perfect candidate.

    But what happens if they find the perfect candidate, and then he leaves, whether it is for a better job, to be the trailing spouse, to return to school, etc.? There is no guarantee that employees will stay.