Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

The Importance of Recruitment in the 21st Century

I’ve been involved with recruiting since 2009, not a long time, but long enough to realise the importance of getting it right, and the consequences of getting it wrong. As the 21st century advances towards the middle of its second decade, more companies appear to be demanding faster results from their new recruits, placing ever more emphasis on the recruiting function. Where once HR was deemed a support department, in the 21st century it is ever more becoming a key part of the strategic shaping of postmodern organizations.

People often talk about the results that a new recruit can achieve: a Sales Rep hitting stretch targets; an Innovation Department (if the company is brave enough to have one) coming up with a new product or service that gives it a strategic advantage over the competitors; a HR recruit that puts in place the plans to spot and retain the company’s key talent, thus preventing them leaving for the opposition. But what are the costs of getting the recruiting decision wrong? If our new Sales Rep is going to have a one million pound objective and only hits 50%, all things being equal, we may have just made a 500,000 GBP error!

Sometimes it´s much more than, “Does the CV match what we’re looking for?” Often it comes down to a good fit for the corporate culture, or a good fit for the corporate values. If the organization has a “Right first time” value, then the employee who values speed and cutting corners to get quick results, over quality, may not fit in. If the organization values shared goals and teamwork, then the aggressive go-it-alone Sales star may become isolated and make enemies.

So how can organizations put in place the recruiting strategies to ensure a higher success rate and lower first year attrition among new recruits? For years, numerous personality or aptitude tests have been favoured to aid the recruiting process. Many psychologists don’t favour such tests. Other experts will say that recruiting decisions shouldn’t be taken only on the basis of such tests. They’re now so widely used and well known, that a candidate who prepares well and researches the organization may be able to provide the answers that the company will be looking for.

Two things I’ve used for years are the receptionist test – asking the receptionist what they thought of the candidate, and the brief telephone interview. The advantage of the telephone interview as the first filter helps remove the trip-up of becoming anchored by the first impression of the flashy suit. To avoid the judgements that can be caused by first (good and bad) impressions, it better to focus on, “What are we looking for?” Look for the performance track record. Give them recent problems that the company has faced, and ask them to come up with a solution and argue its merits.

Whatever methods companies use, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: as organizations demand quicker results; as organizations operate with increasingly reduced people, so the need to get recruitment right becomes ever more important. If HR wasn’t thought of as a strategically important organization tool previously, there is an increasing call for it to become one.










Recruitment & Selection image from:



July 20, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. As usual, a thought-provoking and fair-minded reflection, Kelvin. I couldn’t agree with you more.
    If we can accept the premise that a company is no more than the people in it, then recruitment, and talent management, have to be seen as strategically essential, even more so when you’re looking at high stakes recruitment.
    One thing is covering commodity vacancies with commodity workers, another thing completely is getting high-value experts for specialist roles. Surely any company with vision must understand that this is something worth spending a bit of money on: an investment, not a cost. Getting it right or wrong is a strategic decisión, because you can’t achieve anything more tan what your people can do.
    If you can’t get – and keep – the right people whose talent adds the value your company needs to add, then you’re going to hell in a handcart.
    Personally I believe that if you’ve got the right people, and a clear strategic sense of direction, you need very little administration, just an occasional bit of guidance and lots of support; great results will simply follow.
    I’m sure instinct has a lot to do with it too: don’t you find that those stellar individuals somehow just look and feel right from the first moment?
    The receptionist test is a great idea. It must be highly revealing: the way candidates come across to your receptionist will say a lot about the impression they’ll give your clients.
    That is, supposing your company has a receptionist. It’s one of the value-added roles that the beancounters least seem to appreciate; the profesional front-line contact your company has with its visitors. Companies don’t just need receptionists; they need spectacular and highly-trained receptionists who can articulate and personify eloquently, elegantly and effotlessly everything the company is towards everyone who visits.
    What companies need is in these hard times is more HR, more talent, more investment in talent, and fewer beancounters.

    Comment by Simon Ferdinand | July 30, 2013 | Reply

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