Avoiding Arrested Development in HR – It's not as Funny as the Bluths

Like Tobias Fünke, some of us think we’re in the know, but aren’t. We walk around tossing out new, hip terminology. We rock our social media profiles. But inside, we are STUCK. Yes, STUCK. Three. Five. Ten. Fifteen years in the past. As Morris Massey said so long ago, “We are where we were when we were ten.” In terms of our careers, that means the first stages of our professional lives when we were establishing our own core beliefs. The early lessons learned can be invaluable as we grow into leaders, but if we aren’t careful, we risk being held back by a case of Arrested Development.

Overcoming Arrested Development

It’s easy to believe the methods you learned from respected mentors early in your career are the best strategies worth employing. And to view the biggest organizations and most deployed traditional technologies as always world–class. But the challenges talent leaders face today are so different than they were even three years ago, let alone when some of us started our careers more than a decade (or two or **ahem** three…) ago. Remember when Jack Welch, then CEO of GE, hired “e-mentors” for his executives? Those twentysomethings who really got the emerging internet? That’s what we need to do again today. We have the battle scars and wisdom of life experience and we’ve earned the right – and should have the courage – to revolutionize talent acquisition practices to get our unfair share of top talent. And so often, these practices will come from the newest companies, not the oldest and biggest. And from emerging technologies, not those that have been around the longest. 

Fifteen years ago, no one could have predicted the technologies that have become ingrained into our everyday life and business. Think back to the year 2000. Most of today’s social media and digital engagement networks didn’t even exist. So why are so many talent leaders still so reliant on archaic hiring tactics? Arrested Development.

Google, who spends a far greater percentage of its budget on recruiting than any other company, has mostly done away with resumes in their hiring process. Why? Because a single piece of paper doesn’t tell them who will be right for their organization. They get it. Experience has told Google’s head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, that work tests are a better indicator of who will provide limitless potential. And even though I’m an education snob, today, Ivy League educations and big-name experiences just do not guarantee a successful candidate.

So, can we all throw paper to the seals and stop accepting candidate resumes? No. Not yet. But, we can take a lesson from Google and once again embrace the personal side of talent acquisition. We can use targeted employment brand strategies to attract the right people, with the right attitudes and the right acumen, which are often hidden behind the paper. We can use the efficiencies that modern technologies have given us to spend more time focused on creating an experience that enables real connections. And we can invest in identifying who is the best fit for our organization and how we can enable their prolonged success.

Time and time again I see talent leaders who think an accepted LinkedIn request means they’ve hit a modern recruitment homerun – they’ve made a personal connection and used social media! Wrong. What they’re failing to recognize is that the expectations of today’s candidates have shifted significantly. Top talent wants to be wooed, not just asked, “Marry me!”

Blending Experience and Innovation

It is always difficult to criticize your own practices, especially when they’ve proven successful in the past or have been labeled a best practice. The challenge is acknowledging that things are different and will continue to change. What worked before is probably not really working now and definitely won’t work tomorrow.

We need to be regularly asking our teams NOT how many candidates does this source give us, but rather:

  • “Are we really looking at the user experience and how it reflects our brand?”
  • “Are we really connecting with candidates in a meaningful way, so they become advocates first and perhaps employees next?”
  • “Are we really getting impactful hires that stay, grow and are awesome contributors to our organization?”

If your response to these questions is, “I don’t understand the question. And I won’t respond to it,” you will continue to operate in a state of Arrested Development, and your organization will fall behind the competition. Talent acquisition should be a fluid process, constantly adapting to evolving market and candidate expectations. While your tried-and-true talent strategies might just continue to deliver average results, ask yourself… is average good enough?