Looking for top talent can go over the top

Are time-consuming online recruiting systems putting candidates off?
By Nadina Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/29/2018

I am a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) with more than 14 years of progressive leadership experience. I have worked in a variety of different industry groups and taught HR management and occupational health and safety.

In 2017, I decided to venture out on my own and start my own business as an HR consultant. There were lots of jobs online, so I applied to several HR consultant positions to do some contract work.

And one thing I quickly discovered while applying to various jobs was that many of the newer online recruiting systems were incredibly verbose and time-consuming.

It would often take me one or even two hours just to apply to one job, largely due to data fields being so over-populated. For instance, having force fields to enter information like what month and day I took a seminar in 1990 is a bit ridiculous. 

I am all for extrapolating data and I understand the concept of “What gets measured, gets managed.” I also see the importance of HR metrics and the need to have quick and easier ways to do business.

I know the time-consuming effort it takes to weed through hundreds of resumés, and I too welcome computer assistance with these tasks.

However, when systems like these take one or two hours just to upload information details to apply to one job, there is something seriously wrong. We have gone “over the top.” 

How do these exhaustive application systems attract quality candidates?

In my opinion, they don’t. Instead, professionals like me simply say, “I’m not bothering.”

They move on to a competitor who understands this, or an executive recruiter who will do the work for them, or to another company that has already realized that “easy apply” is in fact easier. After all, time is a valuable commodity and a limited resource.  

So, the question becomes: Are we actually losing our top talent because of this? I mean, if a person is good, he can and he will just go elsewhere. 

The goal of every human resources department is to attract top talent, and every position has a different ingredient list as to what that is.

Leadership positions, management positions, executive positions and supervisory positions require not only extensive knowledge, skills and abilities, but also experience.

This experience and knowledge may be accumulated over many years and it includes a rich, detailed work history and noteworthy achievements. That is a lot of information and it’s a lot of detail to upload.

But is it reasonable to expect experienced candidates to spend this kind of time in an application process? I don’t think it is.

Keep in mind that in tight labour markets, candidates apply to several jobs to meet the limited amount of available numbers game. Is it reasonable for us to expect candidates to spend all this time applying to just one of these jobs?

Most importantly, are we limiting our candidate pools because of this? If I, like so many others I know, just don’t bother with these types of company sites, are we inadvertently filtering out experienced candidates from selection?

Worse, are we filtering out people with real and desirable leadership qualities who could be applying to our companies? Today, more than ever, we need solid and experienced leaders to bring up our rising stars. 

Have we allowed our recruitment process to go over the top by relying on these verbose systems, or handing over the hard work to a select group of executive firms to choose our leaders — simply because they will do what we won’t?

We could be missing out on some really great, strong, inspiring leadership.

Nadina M. Smith is chief HR strategist and president of Variable HR Consultants in Halifax. She can be reached at variablehrconsultants@outlook.com.

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