If you’re a fan of baseball, you know there’s this cool thing in the game where a pitcher throws a ‘burn’ pitch to set up another one. It’s not about scoring a point but getting ready for a better play down the line.
Ever thought about doing that in HR? Ever burned a hire?
In big companies, sometimes you have to burn hires to make a point or get your hiring managers on board. I remember when we brought in this fancy pre-employment test, and the managers hated it. They didn’t trust the science behind it. Good assessments only work if everyone believes they’re worth it in the end.
I let the managers hire people they liked, even when the test said they might not work out. It was a gamble, but I wanted to show the value of the tools we were using. I wouldn’t keep doing it, but sometimes you need to prove your point for the greater good.
I’ve also burned hires with executive referrals. Top-level folks sometimes want to get jobs for their family, and most of the time, these hires don’t work out. But fighting against it isn’t smart, so you burn a hire.
Not many HR people openly admit to burning hires, but behind closed doors, we know it happens. Sometimes, the small battles aren’t as crucial as the bigger internal war, so you let certain hires go through even when you’d normally stop them.
This doesn’t make you bad at HR; it’s just being strategic. Like the pitcher, you’re setting yourself up for success by burning a hire here and there.
Like most recruiting teams, we deal with our fair share of “Repeat Offenders” – those folks who just won’t quit when it comes to job contacting you. Maybe we’ve called them, interviewed them, or even hired them at some point. But now, they’re like persistent shadows – calling, emailing, hitting us up on LinkedIn, and even sending friend requests on Facebook. Stalker!
One of our recruiters said, “John Smith (a boring fake pseudonym, I know) won’t stop bugging me; he emails me his resume every single day!” We all know John Smith. He used to work for us at a client, and it didn’t end well. Now, he wants us to find him his next gig. But here’s the catch – it’s not about his skills; it’s his personality. He was a pain for the client and his co-workers, and frankly, he’s not the right fit for any job.
So, here’s the burning question: How do you get John Smith to back off? This is a situation every recruiter faces sooner or later.
Here’s my simple solution:
Tell Them! Be honest. That’s it – no more steps.
The problem with recruiters is that we’re scared to burn bridges. We worry about where the person might end up, who might hire them, and we don’t want to mess up our good rep. We’re all about the “Candidate Experience,” right? Well, that’s a load of nonsense. It’s just avoiding conflict. It’s better to give them that gift than let them walk around clueless. So, be straight up.
Tell them exactly, very specifically, and calmly, with no ill intent: “I want to give you a gift. You might not see it as a gift right now, but I hope in time you’ll understand it to be a very valuable gift. I (don’t use ‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘the company’ – you’re avoiding again by using those) – I think you have a significant personality flaw that comes across as annoying to me and, from the feedback I have received, to those you work with. If this does not change, I won’t be finding you any job in the future, and you’ll probably struggle to find one on your own as well.” OUCH! That hurt, right? But, read it again. Was there anything mean or untrue in the statement? If this person actually listens to the statement and acts on it, will they be better for it? You can change the reason for whatever issue the person might have – maybe it’s hygiene, maybe it’s a crazy laugh, who knows – but the basic message stays the same. You need to change, or I never want to speak to you again.
It’s tough for recruiters because we’re trained to be nice, but sometimes being nice means stringing people along. It’s rude not to tell them what’s wrong. Stop with the blow-off lines and start telling the truth. At the very least, you’ll free up time to talk to the candidates who actually matter.
Getting turned down for a job sucks, but how you handle it can impact how people see your company. A while ago, I applied for an executive gig, and 18 months later (emphasis on this), I got a snail mail rejection letter. No communication for 18 months – then a rejection. Now that’s a solid candidate experience, right!?
That experience got me thinking about the dos and don’ts of rejection letters. Here’s the lowdown:
Send signed letters to folks you talked to personally – phone calls, meetings, or internal referrals. And don’t wait 18 months.
Write rejection letters that match your company vibe.
If someone’s a definite no, shoot them the rejection letter. For maybes, keep them in the loop.
Use the ATS for mass rejection emails when there’s been zero personal contact.
Don’t send a letter to everyone who applies. When someone applies, include a message in your recruitment process, letting them know that only those selected for interviews are considered part of the process. This means we’ll communicate directly with those individuals. Others, thanks for applying – please consider other positions that match your experience and background.
Avoid saying someone else was more qualified – you can’t know for sure. Focus on the one who fits your current needs.
Ditch the promise of keeping resumes for the future. Be straight – if they want another shot, tell them to reapply and maybe network a bit.
In the end, rejection letters should leave people thinking, “Okay, I applied once, and I’d do it again. Maybe even support or buy from this company.” It’s not easy, but doable.
For real feedback on your rejection game, give a few rejected candidates a call. They’re usually cool with sharing their thoughts on the process.
Is it cool to hire from your competitors? This usually gets mixed responses. If you ask 100 Talent Acquisition Pros, half might say it’s a no-go due to agreements not to poach from each other – a common practice in the corporate world.
Infamous legal dramas, like the Silicon Valley case, highlight the downsides of these secret pacts. Between 2005 and 2009, tech giants allegedly avoided recruiting each other’s people, causing lower wages and less job mobility. The lawsuit claims this left workers in the dark about better-paying opportunities.
Surprisingly, openly declaring an agreement not to recruit from competitors is not just ethically weird – it’s illegal. Yes, you heard that right. While it’s tempting to dodge the hiring treadmill in a competitive market, there are smarter ways to deal with it.
One approach is to invest in better pay, engagement, and talent development. DUH! Smart companies know it’s crucial to pay at or above market rates to keep their team happy. Instead of reacting to high turnover with higher wages, these companies stay ahead by regularly adjusting compensation to retain top talent.
Choosing between paying upfront or dealing with turnover costs is a classic business challenge. Reactive companies end up paying more on the back end due to turnover and higher wages. On the flip side, proactive organizations invest upfront in talent development, keeping a competitive edge by promoting from within and having visionary leaders.
I would actually love to see legislation that makes it illegal if you’re a corporate recruiter and you don’t make cold calls to recruit! You saying you’re a ‘Recruiter’ but you don’t recruit! That’s the real criminal activity going on!
HR Rockstars! Guess what’s coming your way on Jan 31? I’m teaming up with Scott Sinatra, CEO and Co-Founder of Bountiful, to spill the beans on turning your good old referrals into a competitive advantage.
Now, I get it. Referral management might not be everyone’s cup of coffee. But we’ve got your back. Worried that referrals lead to cookie-cutter teams? Yep, got your back there too. Here’s a little secret from Scott: 90+% of you aren’t using any tech wizardry to manage a source that’s dishing out 20-50% of your hires. Let’s change that, shall we?
In this webinar, we’ll cover:
How to build, automate, and scale a referral program (because who needs extra headaches?)
Tackling the common challenges organizations face when rolling out a referral program – and trust me, we’ve seen them all.
Scaling your referral program externally, so you can tap into talent from anywhere on the map.
Hiring can be a puzzle, and losing good candidates is something that happens more often than we’d like to admit. I once heard that a whopping 95% of hiring managers are curious about why good candidates bail during the hiring process.
Now, the big question is whether talent acquisition isn’t telling hiring managers why candidates bail, or if hiring managers just don’t believe the reasons they’re given.
When asked why a candidate left, most teams usually blame the candidate – they backed out, the job was too far, or they got another offer. But hiring managers often hear a different story from their connections. It could be the TA team dragging their feet on travel expenses or taking too long to schedule an interview. Or a candidate might have been left in the dark for weeks about the status of their application, leading them to accept another offer out of frustration with the lack of communication.
The reality is, many TA leaders shy away from finding out the real reasons because it might make them and their team look bad. It’s not a pleasant thing to deal with, but if you want to improve your hiring process, you’ve got to know why your candidates are actually leaving.
So, what’s the trick? Don’t have your recruiting team ask the question directly. You’ll probably end up with answers that make TA look good and blame others. Instead, get someone neutral or a third party to find out and spill the beans. It might not be pretty, but real leaders want the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. Facing reality is the first step to making your hiring process better.
What’s the one thing that drives employees crazy? Adoption new technology? No. Not enough PTO? Probably, but no. The biggest thing? Change.
Seriously, it’s the top contender for the most disliked thing a company can do to its employees. I know, some claim they’re all about change—love it, embrace it, advocate for it. But let’s get real. Those folks who shout about embracing change? They’re the same ones devastated when their favorite TV show gets the boot. Truth is, most people hate change. They like things steady—the same morning coffee routine, knowing their familiar doctor is on their insurance plan, the predictable paycheck schedule. That’s their jam.
So, here’s the secret to keeping your employees around.
Your folks don’t secretly plot their escape route. Starting a new job, dealing with a new boss, different location? It’s a headache! They actually want to stick with you. But, and this is a big but, they don’t want their job or the company to become unbearable. That’s where the problem lies: Change is bound to happen, but it’s also what they can’t stand.
How do you navigate this without causing an uproar?
Simple: Communication is key. Many HR departments tend to blow small changes out of proportion by drowning everyone in unnecessary info. New payroll system? Cue the panic. Checks arrive on different Fridays now! The usual reaction? Form a committee, plaster posters, rewrite policies, and talk about it endlessly for months. But hold on.
What’s needed is straightforward talk. At all times. Hey team, our payroll’s getting an upgrade. Less errors, more savings for the company. Checks will come on different Fridays. Get ready, and if you need help, your supervisor’s there for you. Change kicks in the next pay cycle. Done!
Here’s the thing: People hate change. So, let’s not make a big fuss over small changes! Only communicate the big stuff. When major changes happen less often, it won’t feel like a constant whirlwind. Your employees WANT to stick around. They HATE change. Stop bombarding them with unnecessary upheaval just to look busy.
Employee retention? Not rocket science. Because, deep down, your employees would rather stay put.
This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!
The Reason You Got Ghosted by a Candidate!
Yesterday I answered a question from a candidate about why an employer ghosted them after their interview. Many readers were upset because they were also getting ghosted by candidates. In fact, like all the time, way more than they would ever ghost a candidate. Oh, two wrongs do make a right!
All ghosting is sh*tty behavior by candidates and by those of us who hire. Period.
The reality is that this is hard to admit, and as a professional, we own a portion of the candidate ghosting. Are candidates awful for doing it in the first place? Yes. I will not let them off the hook. But I also only control what I can control, and that is my process, behaviors, etc.
Why are candidates ghosting us?
1. We are moving too fast. Wait, what?! We are told to move fast because that’s what candidates want!? Yes, but when you move so fast, the candidates don’t know you (your company and you personally), the job, the boss, or the reasons why they should come and interview. It all doesn’t seem real. So, it becomes easy to just not show up. (Que Taylor Swift – We need to slow down!)
2. We aren’t giving candidates a way to easily tell us they moved on with another offer. Hourly candidates, especially, are moving fast and have multiple offers. You might have scheduled them for an interview later in the week, but they have already decided to go with another offer. While we gave them instructions on where to go and when we could have made it easier for them to opt out. Many organizations are using auto-scheduling tools like Paradox, which sends reminders and lets candidates choose to reschedule or cancel via text. Those organizations get significantly less ghosting!
3. We believe that once a candidate schedules an interview,our job is done. The most powerful human emotion in existence is being wanted by others. Candidates come to you for a number of reasons, all of which they can most likely get from someone else as well. But, showing them more desire than someone else is a key to great talent attraction. You still need to do that with your messaging even after the interview is scheduled.
4. We allow it to happen without any ramifications. (Okay, this might be a bit aggressive!) What if, every time a candidate ghosted you for an interview, you posted their picture and details on social media!? Yikes! Right?! “This is Tim Sackett, a cute redhead. He ghosted us for an interview yesterday at 3 pm. If you see him, tell him we are thinking about him!” Do you think it would get noticed? Heck, yes, it would!
5. We are making it too easy for candidates to interview. This is a catch-22. We need talent, so we reduce every roadblock possible for candidates. It’s so easy. Most don’t care if they burn the bridge or not. That is truly why employee referrals are so valuable for most employers. Referrals are far less likely to burn a bridge. That might be a trick to use. Ask a candidate: Do you know anyone at our company? Begin to tie the personal connection back to them, and they will be far less likely to ghost. Also, make it super hard to get an interview, and people will hold it as a higher value! “Only 1% of people who apply to our company ever get an interview! it’s a rare thing we offer to only the top candidates.” If you knew that was the case, you would show up for that interview!
I think most of the candidate ghosting is truly reflective of the poor morals and values of the people who are doing it. You made a commitment to someone. You keep that commitment, or at the “very” least, you inform that person you will no longer be able to keep that commitment. It’s a pretty basic human condition. Those who ghost probably had crappy parents and mentors in their life who didn’t teach them the basics. I’ve never once spoken to or met an upstanding individual who thought highly of themselves that would ghost. High-quality people don’t ghost. Low-quality people do.
People don’t like to hear that. They want to talk about circumstances and bad employers, etc. The reality is high-quality people will contact someone and let them know they no longer want to be considered, regardless of how crappy the employer may or may not be. Low-quality people just don’t show up. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. I’m just telling you the truth. You already know.
If you’re an employer and you ghost candidates after interviews – You (not your organization). You, personally, are of low quality, just like the candidates who ghost you. I don’t like to hire low-quality people. But I also want to give every opportunity for a low-quality person to become a high-quality person.
This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!
Working from home is not more productive for most people!
The WFH home army hates to hear this! Yikes! But it’s true. While a small percentage of workers, overall, around 10% are actually more productive, the vast majority of people just don’t have the self-awareness and drive to be as productive as they are when they are in an environment that is designed to have them do work.
The media will never tell you this because it’s not popular and won’t get clicked.
Do you know what has happened since the beginning of the pandemic? The golf industry has exploded! Some Stanford researchers, who golfed, started to realize that the golf courses seemed busy. Like really, really, busy! And these courses were busy during times when they shouldn’t be busy, like mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. You know, the time when folks should be working!
They discovered they could use satellite technology paired with GPS and cell phone data to map out traffic at golf courses. This gave them a picture of what this looked like pre-pandemic and what it looks like today. What do you think they found?
First, you have to understand that before the pandemic the golf industry was hurting. Average rounds of golf were down and trending down year over year for a long time. They had this old white guy problem. This means that old white guys were the biggest participants in golf, and that demographic was getting older and dying.
Here’s what Stanford discovered about working from home and golf:
There was an 83% increase in mid-week day golfing from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic. All those WFH folks weren’t working all they said they were working!
There was a 278% increase at 4 pm. So, we have some hope for those who maybe just were cutting out a little early.
The pandemic has led to a golf boom with folks wanting to get outside, but weekend trips to courses were far less of an increase to weekday visits. So, yes, more people are golfing overall due to the pandemic, but weekday golf has exploded with WFH.
I know! I know! This is only one small little study. I’m sure you’re still WAY more productive working at home than you were in the office. But you’re not, or most likely you’re not, but that’s just because you have low self-awareness!
I think most of us just get confused with short-term productivity vs. long-term sustained productivity. The BLS shows productivity of workers has dropped off a cliff, so we really can’t make the WFH productivity argument any longer. I do think for short-term bursts of productivity working from home or someplace where you don’t get interrupted can make you feel way more productive. But day in, day out, over the long haul, working around others who are working will help you sustain your productivity.
I know you hate to hear this. Working at home is so lovely! Plus, you get those great golf tee times during the day!
This holiday season, you’ve got the chance to make your CEO’s Christmas wish list come true. It’s time to give them the gift of insights into what they really want from their HR and Talent Acquisition teams.
I created a short survey designed just for CEOs, all about what they wish HR and TA would do more of or start doing. It’s all about improvements, tech stuff, and making magic happen within your organization. They get to rate your HR team’s current performance, spot areas for improvement, and even prioritize the issues they care about most. Psst, CEOs, your secrets are safe with us – this survey is anonymous.
Spread the Joy
So, spread some holiday cheer and share this survey link with your CEO or hook me up with their email.
As HR pros, you have the power to make some serious magic happen. By getting your CEO involved in this survey, you’re not just boosting your own game but helping us all understand what makes CEOs tick across different industries!
I’m making this holiday season all about shaping killer HR strategies. Are you with me? Share the link with your CEO and let’s sprinkle some HR magic together!