Myths may have been useful for helping our ancient ancestors understand how the world works, but they are anything but useful in Human Resources. In fact, long-standing, deep-seated hiring and recruiting myths consistently and persistently prevent businesses from considering worthy candidates. Here are five that refuse to retreat into the shadows.
Experience Beats Enthusiasm
There’s a reason countless comic strips, television shows, movies, and Internet memes highlight the drudgery of the daily grind. Few people, if asked, would admit to being excited about the prospect of spending eight hours (or more) out of every twenty-four at a job they are lukewarm about, much less one they strongly dislike. Discontent on the job accounts for increased levels of depression and anxiety. In fact, one study suggests job satisfaction is an important factor that influences workers’ mental and physical well-being and overall health (http://oem.bmj.com/content/62/2/105). While on the surface it might make practical and fiscal sense to hire based on experience, in truth, a prospective candidate’s enthusiasm for the job, the organization, and the industry is too integral a variable to be discounted. If a candidate isn’t enthusiastic about working for your business and ready and willing to tackle the demands of a role before being on-boarded, it’s unlikely that person will ever conjure the necessary energy to excel in the role and experience consistent personal satisfaction, regardless of their level of experience. Additionally, the stress and anxiety they will likely incur can be cost-prohibitive for your business as productivity, motivation, and drive fall off over time. Hiring enthusiastic team members – and proactively working to fan the flames of that enthusiasm during their tenure with your business – will go a long way toward ensuring the culture of your business is consistently lively and thriving, resulting in reduced turnover, higher productivity, and more engaged individuals and teams.
Hire a Person, Not a Family
Your team members might not physically bring their spouses and significant others, children, and extended family to work with them every day, but rest assured they perpetually carry the most important people in their lives in their minds and hearts to some degree. Circumstances at home can significantly impact and affect a team member’s level of performance on the job, whether intentionally or surreptitiously. Wearing blinders and pretending your employees can effectively separate work and home at every turn is a disservice both to them and to the business. It’s not your responsibility to know every detail of your employees’ home lives and personal situations, nor is it your responsibility to cater to and solve your team members’ personal crises, but it should be your responsibility (and privilege) to find out what motivates, inspires, and encourages, as well as what external factors could potentially hinder them and prevent their forward movement and progress while on the job. This means having a somewhat clear holistic picture of each team member so you can best support them. One way to get a sense of the external variables that might affect on-the-job performance is to host a social – such as a lunch or dinner at a relaxed location – and invite your top contender and one other person of his or her choosing. This allows you to begin to get to know the person behind the employee.
Job Hoppers are Notoriously Unreliable
Once upon a time, people joined a company and stayed until retirement. Today’s ever-changing workforce and the constant stream of new jobs and new types of workers entering it demands that employers be realistic and open-minded about what candidates are looking for when they seek employment. This begins with the awareness that, for right or wrong, many millennial workers are more transient than their baby boomer and Gen-X predecessors. This is in large part because, overwhelmingly, today’s emerging workforce expects to be challenged on the job and to be provided with learning and growth opportunities (http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/193274/millennials-jobs-development-opportunities.aspx). Lack of opportunities often leads workers to leave one place of business – and sometimes an entire industry – to seek fulfillment elsewhere. This trend is unlikely to go away anytime soon, meaning managers and top-level leaders in organizations throughout every industry, the green industry included, must be willing to ride the current and embrace the mental shift that necessarily accompanies it. What was once perceived as unreliability is now viewed as a strong drive and unwillingness to settle, both features you want to see in your best talent. If you provide abundant learning and development opportunities and clear growth paths for your team members, you increase the likelihood they will stay for the long haul, often drastically reducing the costs associated with turnover and re-training, which means good news for your bottom line.
Gaps are Always Red Flags
Few people in an HR role want to hear crickets chirping when they review a candidate’s resume, but sometimes the dead space known as the employment gap is there nonetheless. Historically, recruiters have run fast and far from candidates with employment gaps, and not always without justification. But as industries continue to realize the value of happy employees to their business’ profitability, many organizations are now more accepting of lapses in employment resulting from extended leaves of absence from the workforce. These absences often come in the forms of family leave, sabbaticals geared toward continuing education and personal enrichment, and time away to tend to mental and physical health issues. Even when they result from the candidate’s inability to secure employment, this should not always serve as a strike against the person, as long as they can demonstrate the gap is an isolated, unique occurrence and not indicative of a trend. Often, people returning to the workforce after a leave of absence are energized and grateful for the opportunity to meaningfully contribute their time, talents, and skills to a brand-new endeavor.
Recruiting is Easy
While it’s true there is no shortage of job seekers in today’s marketplace, finding the right ones for your team can present a considerable challenge. By and large, you want people who will align with your business’ mission, vision, values, and goals, and who will seamlessly fit into the culture you have worked so hard to create and foster. On the other hand, if you have a clearly-defined, streamlined recruiting process in place, the nuts-and-bolts mechanical components of recruiting, on-boarding, and training team members should pose little to no challenge. Where you can – and should – plan to invest a healthy dose of sweat equity is in attracting and retaining quality people who will consistently help your business to realize a healthy return on investment. If you encounter more haystacks than needles along the way, you know you’re doing it right. When you do begin to home in on the ideal team member for your business, sharpen your focus even more. As writer and CEO Walter Isaacson said, “Smart people are a dime a dozen. What matters is the ability to think different… to think out of the box.”
The HR landscape continues to change and evolve, meaning traditional view of recruiting and hiring are more relics than the landmarks they once were. One effective way to navigate this ever-shifting landscape is to kick persistent hiring and recruiting myths to the curb. Your business will thank you for it.