When it Comes to Recruiting, You Can Lead a Horse to… Lumber?

A number of weeks ago, I called the CEO for a precision metal manufacturer.  I heard they were hiring for a Director of Manufacturing and we wanted to recruit the position. The CEO explained that, while they sometimes outsource recruiting, they had a lot of applicants for the position and didn’t need exclusive support.  I didn’t capture their business (you can’t win them all), but he invited me to contingently send any resumes I thought might match the position.  This conversation was actually typical for a lot of sales calls.

The Recruiting Scenario

This CEO shared a few details with me.  He explained their staff was lean; they had to lay off a portion of their workforce.  The Director of Manufacturing was a critical position, though, and needed to be filled urgently. I asked about the quality of candidates they were seeing.  He described it as a “mixed bag” with no obvious standouts, but they had a lot of screening to get through.  I also learned this was the third time they were trying to fill the position in the last 2 years, having not hired the right person the previous two attempts.

This particular conversation stuck with me because it revealed a mindset that I’m seeing more and more since the pandemic and economic uncertainty.  I get it; times are tight and there is an increased effort to minimize spending.  But for this particular situation, the company’s thinking is flawed.

pile of lumber

The Recruiting Challenge

The quantity of applicants they’re experiencing doesn’t overcome the challenge of making the wrong hire.  You wouldn’t tell a builder their services are unnecessary because you have enough lumber.  Unless you have the proper tools and expertise, lumber is just a pile of wood.  In this case, the company had already tried twice and failed to make the right hire.  Their capability to evaluate and/or attract candidates is likely a shortcoming.  Besides, most top performers remain employed and are likely not applying.  A company needs access to the upper echelon of talent to ensure the best attainable solution.

The CEO and HR Director were also investing precious time screening a large quantity of applicants, yet they were inviting me to send more resumes and add to their workload.  They were understaffed and overworked.  He should be seeking recruiting support that would minimize their workload and efficiently deliver the top few candidates from which they could choose.  Services like Executek’s AccuScreen and AccuSource deliver these results while helping to keep traditional recruiting costs down.

I realize it’s difficult to justify spending when revenues are down.  But what is the cost of a wrong hire?  Some executives I know have suggested it can be as much as three times the budgeted salary for a position.  A successful recruit has a ROI that can be amortized over the length of employment.  Certainly, a subject for another blog post.

By the way, I called the CEO yesterday and the position remains unfilled.  I guess the old saying doesn’t always hold true… if you want something done right, perhaps you shouldn’t do it yourself.  If you have a pile of lumber and you’re not a professional, hire a builder.

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