Illustration: Phil Couzens

Should HR Get Out of the Hiring Business?

HRA Editorial - May 2010

By Jun Kabigting

Simple answer: “YES” and “NO!” (OK, before you go out and stage a rally in front of my company’s building, continue reading this Editorial….)

“Yes, HR should get out of the hiring business!”

If you are an HR or a recruiting professional, I can already see your tops fuming in anger and wanting to slap me on the face! But putting your pride aside and taking a more objective stance on this issue, there is serious reasoning to this argument. As Nick Corcodillos, America’s maverick headhunter, aptly wrote in his blog, there are 3 main reasons why he emphatically believes that HR should get out of the hiring business:

✓ HR is not as expert in the business of any department as that department itself, and thus is not the best "manager" of recruiting, candidate selection, interviewing or hiring.

✓ Putting the responsibility of hiring in the hands of HR tacitly relieves the real hiring managers of their most crucial management tasks, i.e., finding and hiring good people.

✓ HR has no skin in the game. It virtually doesn't matter who is recruited, processed or hired because HR gets paid regardless. In short, HR doesn’t really a “stake” since they will not be the ones working with the people they recruit.

And I can’t blame him. In fact, I have to agree that there is truth in his argument. In recent years, as organizations become more complex, HR willingly (or unwittingly) allowed its role to evolve into that of a mere facilitator and “order-taker” in the hiring process. And hence, Corcodilos’ arguments can’t just be simply brushed aside. HR should actually start looking at the mirror and begin to honestly answer these arguments.

“No, HR should remain in the hiring business.”

On the other hand, if HR wants to remain in the hiring business, it should earn its right to be there in the first place instead of having a free ticket simply because they are the HR Department. Deep inside me, I still want to believe that, hiring is, and remains to be, among the most important tasks (if not the most important task!) an HR professional does for an organization.

However, it won’t be easy as HR needs to obviously overcome deeply entrenched values and practices in how it finds, attracts, and retain top talent. In short, it needs to reinvent itself and the role it should play in the hiring table.

How HR Can Earn the Right to be in the Hiring Business

How is this done? This is the tricky part but HR can start earning that right to be in the hiring table by acting as an enabler rather than a gatekeeper in the hiring process. It should refrain from being a mere pencil pusher, CV screener or interview scheduler. Certainly there are more important things to do than this. These trivial functions can even be outsourced to other companies or delegated to a temp staff.

HR should also go beyond the silo mentality where each step of hiring passes through it as a means of “process control.” HR must focus instead in “quality assurance” by encouraging hiring managers and recruitment partners to be involved proactively in the entire selection process from the interview, assessment, and validation, all the way to the final offer.

However, the most critical action that HR needs to do is to adopt author and management guru Jim Collins’ assertion that “people are not the organization’s most important asset, the right people are.” By doing this, HR would have probably earned 50% of the right to remain in the hiring business. Simply put, while it is easy to put “warm bodies” in any position and hope and pray that they get the job done, getting the right people for the right job is an altogether different story.

To do this, HR should put in place a robust recruiting methodology based on best-in-class hiring practices that ensures that the right people are indeed put in the right jobs. Specifically, I recommend the following six proven steps, collectively known as the "HireRight(TM)" recruiting methodology, by which HR can find, attract, and retain top talent for the organization:

Step 1: Define the total job performance profile.

Step 2: Develop a talent sourcing plan and create a compelling job announcement.

Step 3: Conduct evidence or FACT-based interviews.

Step 4: Conduct behavior profiling assessment and reference or background checks.

Step 5: Recruit and close.
Step 6: Transition coaching and on-boarding.

A Call to Action

So there you have it. Should HR remain in the hiring business? The decision is now in the hands of HR professionals like yourself. Will you remain the CV pusher and interview scheduler that you are right now or will you start earning that right to be in the hiring table? If you want to keep the status quo, then the answer is clear: HR needs to pack up and get out of the hiring business as its mere presence will just create more damage than gain.

Remember: At the end of the day, business expects HR to deliver results not activities; solutions not excuses; and superior performance over mediocrity.

Jun Kabigting is Managing Director and Chief Career Consultant of H.R.Central K.K.

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