In the earliest days of FedEx (or Federal Express as it was then known), I had two duties as an HR manager that occupied the lion’s share of my time… (1) Finding copious quantities of people (the right people) sufficient to maintain a near vertical growth curve, and (2) trying to get them paid before their patience with our little merry band wore out.
Second things first. Due to a dearth of cash, and a relatively unsophisticated infrastructure (all the money was going to support revenue systems), new workers often went four or five weeks before seeing their first paychecks. It was neither deliberate nor funny, but at the time we joked about this being the FedEx version of a new hire probationary policy. If you made it thru the first month or so, we would finally get around to paying you.
More to the point of this post, the first (and larger) focus of my attention involved seeing to it that my staff and I successfully recruited several dozen (or more) new teammates every week. Most were hired for Cargo Handler (package schlepper) or Courier (pickup and delivery) positions that were (and still are) the very heart of the company.
After watching this process play out with hundreds of thousands of applicants and tens of thousands of new hires, I was left with some clear and distinct impressions. None of them were novel, or even new, but they were powerful. The most powerful by far was the absolute connection between a person’s desire to do the work and their ultimate success. Thinking back over that ten-year period, I can recall case after case where a nominally qualified applicant became an unqualified success with us due chiefly to their desire, the size of their heart. Yes, they were ‘qualified’ in the traditional sense, but desire was the super-qualifier.
My reason for bringing it up now is this: Modern resume templates and recruiting software have no ability to express or detect desire, or measure the size of someone’s motor. Moreover, recruiters (and by extension their software) are primarily disposed toward ruling applicants in the initial search stages out of consideration based on an absence of linkage with select key words and phrases that are used as absolute search criteria. Hence, too often, the DNA of desire is left out of the picture.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not (repeat, not) anti technology. In fact, I tend to be an early adopter. That said, every time I experience bland, lethargic, or indifferent service, which is pretty often, I wonder if the deliverer of that service didn’t have the heart to be there in the first place, or perhaps an uncaring management has daily poured cold water on that flame.
- Do not let your applicant tracking system or other recruiting software be the only means by which an applicant is rejected from consideration. Just as the gold miners on the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush series occasionally re-run the ‘tailings’ from their sort process, do the same with your resume intake.
- Get personally involved with applicants earlier in the process. Yes, I know this puts extra demand on your time, but it is worth it. One way of accomplishing this is by doing group screening interviews, or inserting a telephone screening earlier in the process. Spread that extra effort by involving managers and those who aspire to leadership roles to a greater degree in the process
- Stop the ridiculous policy of rejecting as unqualified or unworthy those who are out of work. Contrary to popular belief in some recruiter circles, there is still a lot of talent and desire practically begging to get in the game.
- Take some chances with people who are minimally qualified, but evidence a clear penchant for learning, and a warrior spirit. I’ll bet you dinner that more often than not, they will work out.
A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows