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I was reading the following article in the New York Times yesterday With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection.  The stories of the economy, job seekers, and the recruitment cycle were not new, and yet, my heart sank a bit as I continued to read through the article and wonder where we lost sight of what makes a business tick.

At the heart of each business and what makes it or breaks it is people.  And yet when recruiting talent to join our companies, all too often we stop looking at talent as people and turn a blind eye as we shift them into the role of a commodity.  When there is abundance we take it for granted and when there is too little we treat it as though it is sacred.

With unemployment still high and many people underemployed still looking for work, to continue to hear tales of employers stringing candidates out for weeks and months on end or to flip-flop on hiring decisions can be unsettling to say the least.  As an employer, you expect candidates to be at the top of their game and to make a commitment to the interview process, so shouldn’t employers make a similar commitment to candidates (if not to themselves)?

If they wish to add talent, should it not be a well thought out decision, with budgets approved beforehand, and a commitment made that they not only want to hire someone, but will hire someone?  One would hope as much thought goes into the process to bring someone onto your team, and yet with business wondering which way the economy will head the same way we as individuals do, it may be expected that there is a certain level of uncertainty moving forward for everyone.

Business may be business, but, people are still people.  And, perhaps we should strive to treat them as such at a time when there is so much volatility in the workforce.  The candidate experience is still a crucial piece of the recruitment process.  If you’re going to ask a candidate to jump through 10 hoops to secure a job, let’s hope the job and the experience is worth it—and if it’s not, as employers it’s our obligation to make it so.

Why?  Because it’s the same story, candidates are also consumers, critics, and brand advocates: the voices and whispers to friends and colleagues that can break your company when you let your guard down.  Leading them down a path of disenchantment can at the same time keep your business running at a stalemate during a time when you need people on your side the most.

Even if given the job, if new hires felt miss-treated throughout the recruitment process, but took the job because they needed one, their disappointment and miss-trust can lead to issues in performance leaving you right back where you started or further behind.

When we’re down and out and not in a good position, that’s the time we should be remember most how we would like to be treated if we were on the other side of the table.  Should we not look at this time as an opportunity to show our organizations at our best?

With all the additional strains on resources organizations are feeling, it’s a good time to re-evaluate the recruitment process to make sure it’s as efficient as possible.  And, yes, this may mean spending money to save money and time.

Is it really necessary to bring someone in for six or seven face to face interviews?  The reasoning behind such practices range from an attempt to keep a candidate warm, to prolonging the decision making process, to testing a candidate’s desire for the role, to being overly picky and critical in the selection process due to the volume of applicants, to downright negligence in planning or knowing what is wanted in a hire.

Much of the interactions could be kept to Skype or video interviews saving the candidates and the company time, money and energy while achieving the same results.  Sometimes when we remember that the talent we are dealing with are actually people and treat them how we would wish to be treated and not as commodities, we can actually make smarter and better decisions for everyone involved in the process.

I could go on and on about all of the various issues that give rise to further discussion from the article, but I would rather hear your thoughts and if you feel companies are justified in stringing candidates along in the interview process or if they should get their acts together?   How is your own organization dealing with hiring while the economy stabilizes?  Do you see opportunities for improvement during this employment crisis?

And on a completely separate note, it’s International Women’s Day!  Today is a global day celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present and future.  Who has inspired you?

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