Dispelling HR's 3 Biggest Myths

December 6th, 2016

Jon-Mark Sabel


At Digital Disruption 2016, Hirevue Founder, Mark Newman examined three myths- talent acquisition fantasies that have the potential to do more harm than good. These myths are pervasive, directly influence the formation of HR policy, and weaken the talent pipeline. 

1. We Need More Candidates

The candidate search is frequently likened to finding a needle in a haystack. But too often the solution is to add more hay. "The reality is that the average job opening has over 250 applicants, yet less than six people are actually considered," Newman explains. "Do you think we're going to solve any problems if we take that number from 250 to 400?" We do not need more candidates- we need a better way to sift through the existing haystack so that all qualified applicants are considered, rather than the typical 2.4%. So how do we consider everyone? How do we extract needles from the haystack? Children's Mercy Hospital offers a powerful example of what can happen when everyone is given the opportunity to introduce themselves to their prospective employer. Instead of applicants hunting for the position that seems the best fit, recruiters can retroactively match applicants with available job openings based on an introductory video.  "We do not need more candidates," Newman explains. "We need a powerful electromagnet."

2. Millennials Don't Want To Stay At My Company

As the largest portion of the workforce, millennials are positioned to influence their workplaces more than ever before- and this has many workplaces nervous. They see millennials as whimsical workers, prone to flights of fancy (to another company). Most workplaces don't have swimming pools, salad bars, or any of the other amenities glorified by Forbes' List of Best Places to Work. They might not even have free coffee. How will they compete? The fact of the matter is that millennials want the same things workers have wanted since World War II. Every poll reveals that millennials desire four things from their workplace:

  1. A Commitment to Mission. They want the company they work for to stick to its value statement. They see large corporations putting profits over ethics, and are repulsed. It's a simple thing, really. Millennials want their workplace to stand for what it stands for.
  2. The Opportunity to Grow and Be Challenged. If any employee feels that their current position does not offer opportunities for growth, they will leave- this is not a millennial-exclusive trait. People want to be challenged.
  3. They Want Constant Feedback and Coaching. This point meshes well with the previous. Feedback and coaching is crucial for growth and overcoming challenges.
  4. They Need to be Able to Take Care of Their Family. To what should be no one's surprise, those with families want to provide for them. More than salad bars and swimming pools, the flighty millennial generation wants what every generation wants: to support those closest to them.

At the end of the day, millennials don't want to quit companies. They want to create new experiences, be challenged, receive feedback, and put food on the table. Just like everyone else.

3. The War for Talent is On (and it's fierce)

This one is not so much a myth as it is misdirected blame. As companies pour millions into recruitment infrastructure, they wonder when they will see a return on their investment. But in their focus on attracting top talent, they miss a crucial aspect of the talent acquisition process: the speed at which candidates are brought on board.  Newman notes this discrepancy between the "time to expire" and the "time to hire." It takes only 10 days for the best candidates to be off the market- they have no difficulty landing a job. Compare this to the US average of 63 days, and it's no wonder organizations consider there to be a "war on talent." Given the nature of this problem, the solution is simple: move fast and get the best candidates on board. Of course, this is easier said than done. There are hundreds of factors that can hold back the speed at which a candidate is brought on board, so Newman highlights the main three (which conveniently all start with the letter "B"):

  1. Bloat. Seemingly arbitrary numbers of interviews, face-to-face meetings with every VP in the company: these might seem great from an HR perspective, but they clog the pipeline and greatly increase the time to hire. 
  2. Bottleneck. Oftentimes managers take it upon themselves to micromanage talent acquisition, misdirecting valuable TA resources.
  3. Bias. When it comes to choosing qualified candidates, those with high GPAs from top universities often take priority over those equally skilled and passionate. But while those from Yale and Harvard will leave for the competition as it suits them, alumni of less prestigious schools will stay loyal, honoring the fact that they were given a chance. Prioritizing one GPA, school, or other distinguishing aspect over another will needlessly weed out high-achieving, loyal talent.

"The war for talent is really self-induced," Newman concludes. 

For more insight on implementing feedback and streamlining the hiring process, and more, check out on-demand conference presentations here.