Insights

One way to avoid frustrating your employees? Stop posting jobs that aren’t open.

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Recent conversations with mid-level professionals have reminded me of a talent philosophy that I’ve advocated in my leadership roles: let your hiring process work and “stop the deals.” People are frustrated with what they call the “underground job economy,” where just-posted jobs are filled or “promised” before being posted.

It isn’t surprising that leaders want to pick their preferred candidates when filling jobs on their teams, but there is a strong argument that circumventing the hiring process is preventing companies from getting, and keeping, the best talent. When jobs are posted that aren’t actually open, people apply, then don’t hear anything constructive. They don’t get offers, meaningful explanations of why they weren’t a fit, or developmental guidance to help them improve. And worse, they may find out the job wasn’t open in the first place.

These actions are rarely nefarious, but they’re discouraging to applicants, and are not in the best interest of the enterprise. Getting a broad view of available talent is crucial to company success. In addition, surveys show both that diverse candidates face more challenges in the hiring process than their white counterparts, and that workers are leaving companies because either 1) they don’t feel valued, 2) advancement opportunities aren’t evident and the process is not clear and transparent, and 3) they do not see role models in company leadership. The data has now existed for years that companies with diverse workforces, diverse leadership teams and even diverse boards of directors perform better financially.

I wrote recently that CEOs need to be the chief talent officer (CTO) of their company and have a clear point of view on what the company’s talent philosophy is and how it actually works for people. At the end of the day, no vision, mission, values, strategy or plan can work without having the right talent in place. CEOs don’t need to DO the CTO job, but they need to own the talent strategy.

Leadership team members also need to make talent a key part of their jobs. Leaders should make certain that talent conversations are recurring items in staff meetings and be prepared to talk about open roles, the talent pipeline, and next steps. Everyone around the table should be ready and willing to talk about talent in their own pipelines, and leaders shouldn’t be able to hoard talent if the goal is the success of the enterprise. To prepare for my meetings, my leadership team held these same meetings with their own teams regularly.

Other things you can do are pretty simple. Have the hiring and promotion process work as it should, which includes:

  • people have an opportunity to apply and interview for jobs,
  • requirements are in place to ensure diverse candidates are included in the candidate slate,
  • a rigorous talent pipeline and talent discussions at senior levels to make sure the best candidates are advancing.

People also need to get out of thinking that they need to hire for “fit.” You hire people for skills, capabilities, and alignment with what the job requires and what you need the person to accomplish. But hiring people that are a “good fit” also can prevent you from getting the range of perspectives and ways of thinking that are key to successful organizations.