How to Hire

Here is what we know about recruiting in an Open way.

1) Hiring should be done by the organisation, not one gatekeeper. It is a transparent collaborative activity:

  • Everyone should know it is happening. A fast way to destroy trust is to bring people in a back door. No surprises.
  • Everyone should agree it’s a good idea to be hiring.
  • An HR team can help with shortlisting from a large number of applicants, but only in consultation with other stakeholders. Left alone, HR teams sometimes develop some weird selection processes, out of touch with the gemba.
  • It should be a group activity to decide who to hire. The group may be a committee, or the team they will be joining, or a gathering of everyone.

2) Always be hiring.
The employment market is as tough for recruiters as it has ever been. it’s clearly not the economy that is doing this. We’ve just been through lockdowns and we’re now moving into recession. It’s because people are moving out of the work place, finding alternatives (at Teal Unicorn, we haven’t had a real boss for decades). Others are refusing to work like slaves, no longer doing the work of two people. Either way, staff have put up with 50 years of Friedmanist abuse of employees as sweated assets, and they’re not going to take your shit anymore.
At the same time, parties on both sides of the recruiting table being more cautious taking longer and spending more on the process of hiring.
So the worst possible approach to recruiting it’s to wait for a vacancy in a specific job role and then try and find a person who fits an idealised hypothetical profile for that one job.
The result will be a long drawn out process to hire whoever is available at the time of the vacancy, from a small field restricted by the job criteria. Good candidates will be rejected while seeking somebody perfect, before finally settling on whoever is still in the race when you run out of time and patience.
A far better strategy is to always be hiring, with much broader selection criteria, but higher standards. Grab good people whenever they come on the market.

3) Fill specific roles internally first. Don’t underestimate people, and, as above, stop seeking perfection. It is human nature to see the imperfections of those we know, and idealise candidates we don’t know. This is especially so in a conventional management system where attitudes are inherently patronising and belittling.

Existing staff are a known quantity, with existing knowledge of the organisation and its systems. We owe them the opportunities to develop and grow.  Start there.  Only recruit externally for a specific role if it is essential to inject fresh expertise.

4) Treat candidates like future colleagues not potential thieves or hazed sophomores. They are doing you a favour by working for you as much as you are doing them a favour by offering them a job. You need them so act like it.

5) The best recruits come from personal referral. Make the referrer accountable for their assimilation into the organisation and their initial success.

6) Hiring people is potluck and all the systems to supposedly predict their fit are all corporate voodoo. The only way to know is to do. Therefore it makes sense to have a 3-month trial period for both parties. This is stuff on individuals’ they carry far more risk than the employer. So the employer should pay several months’ severance payout regardless of which party ends the trial period. If an employee has moved home to take the job, they should pay out even more. This may sound expensive but it is a small price to pay compared to having to keep on somebody you don’t want or who doesn’t want to be there.

7) Extend the same level of trust and transparency to candidates that you expect from them. If you feel justified in asking them what they get paid now, you should be willing to tell them what you paid the last person. If you ask what they expect to be paid you should tell them what you expect to pay. If you ask why they left their last job you should tell them why the last person left. If you want references you should also provide them. If you want to see their pass performance as an employee, you should show them yours as an employer. Since you are interviewing them, they should be able to interview their candidate team and boss.

8) Pay as much as you can afford to be as high on the benchmark range as you can. Hiring is not a game to see how low you can screw a desperate candidate. It’s part of the process of nurturing a future contributor to the organisation.

9) Create a company where people want to work, and make sure the world knows you’ve done it, then you won’t have to find people – they will find you.

10) Make sure you recruit for values and capability. The paradox of diversity is that some people need to be excluded: those who would harm the inclusiveness of the organisation.

11) The induction process is critical to ensure that new employees are inoculated with the organisational culture: they need to be clear on the way we do things around here.

12) Onboarding employees is their third impression of the organisation (recruiting and hiring come first). Make it welcoming, smooth, and professional.