5 ways to avoid becoming a recruitment casualty

Frank Hutton

In a world where in-house recruiters are targeted with cost per hire; external recruiters are in competition to see who can create a shortlist the fastest; hiring managers are given little or no training in how to assess potential candidates; and few organisations are honest with themselves about the reality of working for them or in the role itself as described,  the results of the recent Korn Ferry survey are no surprise. 

They discovered that 90% of business executives surveyed admitted that between 10% and 25% of new hires leave within the first 6 months.

Think of the cost, disruption to business and sheer frustration experienced by those who remain in the organisation. You would think someone would do something. Well it appears that after decades of such a situation existing, no-one is. Perhaps it is because it is actually cheaper for the company this way.

What's the best test of a candidate?

What's the best test of a candidate? Well, get them in and see how they perform. Sure a good number will go, but the vast majority (75-90%) stay and perform well. Viewed in reverse the system is working - for the employer at least. I know one guy who was taken on and sacked after 4 days for not knowing the products well enough and not being the 'right kind of person' - it nearly crushed him after a long job search. He's since found out he's not the first (or probably the last) to experience such treatment from the same employer.

So what about the 10-15% like him, who find themselves floating in employment limbo with an awkward short term employment experience on their CV to explain? Who cares about them?

So what about the 10-15% like him, who find themselves floating in employment limbo with an awkward short term employment experience on their CV to explain? Who cares about them? It's got to be them (that's you, in fact)!

So don't allow your job search to lead you to become one of them. Here's my handy checklist for job hunting to avoid being one of the 25%:

  1. Don't believe everything you read - test it out, beyond interview - ask questions after the offer comes. Look at the role description in detail and ask questions about it at interview, preferably with your direct line manager. Ask: "Are there any key areas you see that will need addressing when I come on board" - "What have been the biggest barriers so far to succeeding in your company goals & what do you think the solutions are" Find out what job they really want doing.
  2. Don't believe everything they say. Read the body language not just the words - just like all the articles you've read on the importance of body language for the candidate, it can be just as revealing about the interviewer. If they shift in their seat when answering you know it's likely to have been a challenging question for them. If they are rubbing their ear lobe or scratching their chin, there's a likelihood they are struggling to tell the truth. Frequent loss of eye contact after questioning, ditto.
  3. Get the bigger picture. Talk to other employees if possible to get a feel for the culture and style of the organisation. Try and get shown round the premises. Dig deep behind the facade. I know it's difficult when you're excited and hungry but it pays dividends in the long term. Not all that glitters etc etc. Don't just rely on sites like Glassdoor for this, however. Do your own research.
  4. Make an effort to look closely at yourself. Understand who you are and what you need as a person - not just money, status or kudos. Remember jobs you really enjoyed doing; what were the characteristics of those? Why did they feel so good? Maybe use an online psychometric testing tool to gain a better understanding of yourself - maybe MBTi.
  5. Treat it seriously. Marriage and moving house are the only things more stressful and important than changing jobs. Give it the same kind of attention - don't let it be an afterthought or knee jerk reaction to a call from a headhunter on a bad day at work. No-one but you will be looking out for your best interests once you enter that jungle.

You can be safe - you just need to take precautions. So temper your excitement and treat every opportunity as a potentially wrong one until proved otherwise.