Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
26 Apr 2012

How can HR recruitment be improved? Survey results from Oakleaf

26 Apr 2012 • by Changeboard Team

Why is it so hard to hire HR professionals?

Without doubt, the economic down-turn has forced the HR profession to take a much closer look at what it does, how it does it and how it impacts the bottom line of business. This is the nature of a non-fee generating occupation but is now in much sharper focus, arguably, than it has ever been in the past.

There are many clear examples of how HR is responding to the current challenges and I honestly believe that the quality of HR staff is rising, as is their delivery. However, one area remains a significant cause for concern: why do the majority of HR hiring managers believe that recruiting HR staff remains something of a lottery? Is it that the interview and selection process is flawed; the candidate skills mix do not match the role requirements, or is it a more fundamental reflection of the HR profession’s relationship with the business and view of itself?

Our research - raising the bar in HR recruitment

Our research, Raising the bar in HR recruitment, investigates whether the recruitment of HR staff is indeed a lottery and if so, what are the reasons behind it? What can we, as HR professionals and suppliers to the HR profession, do to improve matters?

Between October and December 2011, 476 senior-level HR professionals across all industry sectors were then surveyed online to back up the numerous face to face interviews.  All those surveyed had responsibility, to one degree or another, for HR recruitment into their businesses.  

Of those surveyed, nearly two thirds (60%) described themselves as HR directors or heads of function, 20% were recruitment directors or managers and the same percentage were HR business partners, VPs or managers.

Key findings

Our research showed that only 11% of all hiring managers in HR are happy with all their hires into the function 12 months post-hire. This suggests they are not hiring the right people for the right roles. As Ralf Schneider puts it, 'getting the right people on the bus' is essential for this journey. With this in mind, Raising the Bar in HR Recruitment offers a healthy look in the mirror for the HR profession.

The research asks whether recruiting HR professionals is in fact a 'lottery' as a result of 'Cobbler’s Children'. It looks at the factors behind poor HR hires; asks whether the interview and selection process is flawed; asks if then candidate skills simply do not match the roles that have been create, or whether it is a more fundamental reflection of the HR profession’s relationship with the business and view of itself?  

With 74% of respondents citing lack of culture fit as the number one reason for failed HR hires, it's clear that HR needs to do a better job at defining and interpreting its culture and assessing fit. 

Identifying culture fit

Our research clearly shows that there is a need, at an operational level, for improvements in the recruitment of HR professionals and at a strategic level, culture needs defining not just for today’s business environment but for the future journey. Raising the bar will enable the business to be more successful which will itself be a catalyst for and enabler of HR change.  

Ralf Schneider, founder and Principal of 2B, asks: “Is our current recruiting experience designed for cultural fit towards the future, or rather the past?” He goes on to say that, “the sophistication of hiring into the HR function might give us an early indication of the capability, and will, to make change happen.”

HR recruitment agencies also need to embrace the new recruitment paradigm of commercially logical and physically viable direct candidate sourcing methods, via social media inter alia, and various outsourced recruitment models. Against this back-drop, 67% of respondents say that to raise their bar, HR recruitment businesses need firstly to understand their clients better. 

Developing a consultative approach

An increased level of value-add and sophistication from suppliers is essential – many suppliers continue to measure success in the rear-view mirror.  A consultative approach is critical to growing engagement levels with candidates and clients alike via their overall 'customer experience.'

Agencies that do this successfully will de facto have a bigger loyalty-based pipeline of talent and a broader route to the relevant markets for that talent.

HR needs to grow up

Ralf Schneider says that raising the bar is no longer about improving delivery and raising the profile of HR – it’s about transforming the very role and nature of HR itself. New operating models, roles, tools and processes require new skill sets and, perhaps more importantly, new mindsets.

According to Ralph, to achieve this, the HR function has to 'grow up' and run itself like a business operation. This journey starts by applying the same commercial rigour, fact based decision making and accountability for results as the business.