The Holy Grails of Recruitment

I first learned about the Holy Grail in the 1975 movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Being a 1974-model myself, I only first watched this close to two decades after it came out, but have watched it several times ever since. Humour definitely is something beautifully timeless!

But I have digressed even before getting started. Bear with me… The Holy Grail is obviously something that has inspired storytellers of all kinds for ages. It symbolizes not necessarily the trophy itself, but the quest for it. It is the search for the impossible, the unachievable goal that we aspire.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting to look at the search of the holy grails in recruitment? What do we aspire and dream about although we know already that this cannot be achieved, but we want to give it a try nonetheless?”

Here’s my personal top-3:

#1  No more bad hires

Making a bad hire is estimated to cost an organisation around 20% of a persons’ annual salary or somewhere between EUR 6.000 and EUR 15.000 for an average employee. Obviously, the out-of-pocket cost will grow with specialized or more senior staff. Just do the math for your own hires. Whatever the number, there is more cost than meets the eye… Opportunity and disruption cost of not having the right person on board are adding to the costs of a bad hire – not to mention the impact a poor hire can have on workplace morale. No more bad hires would be great, right? Everyone we hire is perfect. The reality is that analytics can help us reduce the number of poor hires, but cannot prevent them since bad hires are contextual. The world is evolving. The best person today could be a poor fit in 3 years’ time, or a bad hire now in a different team or company. However, going beyond the CV and analysing a candidate’s personality fit with your team, company culture, and job will help to drastically cut down the number of bad hires.

#2  Instant time-to-fill

We need someone now! Finding a replacement for someone who is leaving or having to expand teams within a very short time frame all too often result in a time-gap of not having anyone at all. This puts pressure on the existing team members and creates all sort of risks in terms of bad customer service and unfinished projects or tasks. Some have called the ‘average time to fill’ one of the worst HR metrics ever, and I would probably agree. What does it mean anyway to look at an average? For some jobs an average time to fill of 100 days is long, while for others it is short. The average can therefore be meaningless. What if we would not have to source, find and recruit candidates? If we would already know who our perfect new hires are and they would all be willing to work for us. The growing army of free agents and trend towards self-employment probably is shifting the needle here. But at the same time this is a macro-trend that we cannot easily influence. What we can influence however, is efficiency in the process in order to not waste any time with scheduling, waiting and indecisiveness. And always be on the look-out for new talent, even if you are not hiring.

#3  Click-and-play system integration

In one of my earlier blogs I tried to make the case that system integrations in HR and recruitment should be as easy as building with LEGO. Unfortunately, system integrations can be a pain. My personal believe is that employers should have the freedom to implement a process that meets their needs – and those needs will obviously differ between employers. They should be able to pick-and-select tools, instruments, and platforms catering to their hiring needs and combine them in a seamless workflow using their HRIS or ATS as the operating system. API’s should not be something for programmers only, but should be easily configured by people without any technical background. I believe that in the coming years, the recruitment technology ecosystem will include more and more providers who easily collaborate and have made click-and-play integrations a core capability. They are open and play well with others. At the same time, there will be a part of the market that consists of providers who are closed, focussed on proprietary capabilities, and try to be a one-size-fits-all. My money is on the collaborative market!

While writing this blog post, I thought of many more holy grails, not only from the employer side, but also from the candidate side. What about candidate experience and employer branding for example? I would be interested to compare the holy grails of candidates with the holy grails of employers. Stay tuned for a part-2 of this blog… Happy Hiring! 


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