Over those years, I’ve identified five principles that guide my recruiting work. I share them here for two reasons. First, they contain a hopeful message that should be encouraging to anyone who is going through the hard work of improving their hiring results, or is thinking about starting on that path. Second, keeping these principles in mind as you are recruiting will help you stay on track when it feels like you’re losing your way.
Principle 1: The basics of good hiring are common sense—accessible to anyone who is willing to work hard. This is great news for anyone who wants to improve. You don’t need to be born with any special abilities to excel at hiring. All that’s required is dedication and the willingness to put in the time and effort.
Principle 2: Success is the result of executing many small tasks. When you look closely at the hiring process, you see that it consists of a chain of countless small items. The quality of the entire process is only as strong as the weakest link, so details matter. You must focus on following the process, avoid skipping steps, and dedicate yourself to doing a great job on each one of them.
Principle 3: Hiring requires good judgment about people, and it’s a skill anyone can master. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, because we’re accustomed to thinking of people skills as a fixed personality trait. That kind of thinking makes many hiring managers despair of their prospects of mastering the hiring process. But the fact is that anyone can develop outstanding skill over time, through the disciplined and consistent application of a sound hiring process. That’s an incredibly hopeful message.
Principle 4: Successful hiring requires a significant time investment. Every executive I know is juggling dozens of competing priorities, and there is never enough time in the day. It’s tempting to look for shortcuts, but there are none. You must be willing to put in the time to do it right. After all, we’ve already established that finding great people is your number-one business problem.
The good news is that the time you invest in hiring the right people yields an outsized return. Great people make everything run better, and you’ll save incalculable hours by avoiding management crises.
Principle 5: You must take charge. To paraphrase a famously ungrammatical statement from a former president, “You are the decider.” If you have support from a strong human resources professional or recruiter (or both), consider yourself fortunate, but don’t expect these people to do your job. They can provide expert counsel and execute many tasks on your behalf, but there are other times where your personal involvement is essential. There’s a limit to how much you can delegate. At all stages of the hiring process you must keep your hands firmly on the reins, provide clear direction, and make timely decisions. Otherwise the process will fail to move forward.
Excerpted from Mastering the Art of Recruiting (Praeger, 2015)