Why HR Can't Innovate?

With unemployment still so high, it’s amazing to hear that employers are clamoring for talent. The so-called talent shortage is a major topic at human resources and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my answering machine has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to contacts by HR folks seeking referrals to talented job candidates. It is strange that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest candidates don’t stay on the market long, corporate recruiting processes don’t change. They don’t get nimbler or faster. They don’t get less burdensome or bureaucratic. You’d think that employers hungry for talent would innovate, making their recruiting processes easier and more human.


The worst part about effectively useless corporate recruiting is the notion that the best-qualified candidate for a job is the one willing to climb over the most piles of broken glass to get the job. No wonder hiring managers take a person who is more likely to be the most-compliant—rather than the most-talented—candidate. We could call this person the Last Candidate Standing.

The whole encrusted recruiting process (not to mention unfriendly, robotic auto-respondents and the unending stream of honesty tests, writing tests, and other recruiting hurdles) makes it easy for organizations to hire drones, and it makes it hard for them to hire the brilliant and complex people they need to solve their problems. Here’s our list of six ways that recruiting processes conspire to keep great people out while pulling in docile and wan candidates.