Why Your Hiring Efforts May Need To Be Fired

I was speaking on the topic of sales and its natural joinder of how companies need to attract (and keep) qualified sales professionals. As usual the tone and discussion revolved around something akin to issues being outside of their control. i.e., tight labor market, increased competition from X,Y, or Z, et cetera.

As is usually the case, after I took all the reasons given via the group. I basically stunned said group when I explained, in a very pointed retort, although many of their points may have some validity. I’d contend the number one issue (or true root cause) more than likely, had nothing to do with any of the reasons they given.

I articulated and asserted that many, if not all of the reasons given, could be resolved during the negotiation process with the candidates. Not in the attracting stage.

In other words, what they were using as a cause (e.g., excuse) for not getting qualified candidates, was actually a problem that was relevant to the actual hiring or retaining process, not with the “getting them to apply” dilemma.

The true problem that many seem absolutely blind too, is that usually, the real culprit as to why most can not get (or complain as such) qualified candidates in-the-door and into the negotiation steps is because – of their own in-house hiring practices. Which, more than likely, in-particular, can be laid directly at the threshold of their own chosen facilitator for both finding and hiring. e.g., Their in-house Human Resources department (HR) with its self-direct (as well as many self-created) policies and protocols.

Everyone is blaming not only an “outside” issue, but also, an issue that should be addressed only – after a candidate has all ready applied.

In other words, not only is this a cart-before-the-horse issue. But it’s in conjunction with a focusing-on-the-wrong-problem issue. Is it no wonder many are currently frustrated when, more likely than not, the reason for the consternation is internal, vis-a-vis in-house. And you don’t see it?

Sounds harsh, sure. But let’s understand what I’m truly proposing here: If you are the one responsible for a company, then you ultimately have the authority, as well as duty and obligation to change whatever is not working. And if something is not working – and someone can show you the most obvious detail as to why, and you don’t. Then maybe my perceived “harshness” wasn’t harsh enough.

(As is normally the case, this is when the person who invited me suddenly begins to sweat profusely. But I digress.)

Here’s what I explained in brief form. I also would like to contend: If you yourself are an owner of a small, medium, or large business, or, either run, or are in upper management of a global concern, the following pertains too all. For it is you that are responsible for acquiring not just sales talent, but all talent – not some HR department.

To repeat, for this point can’t be made forceful, or stated enough: If your HR department is the center for both finding, as well as attracting potential sales personnel? You now know why you’re having issues acquiring sales people. And quite possibly – all staff.

I’ll illustrate using just one example below expressing the gist of what I said at the aforementioned discussion. Many whom have been around me for a while, or heard me speak on this topic know this is a pet peeve of mine. But it’s with good reason. So here we go…


CEO to HR department head: “How are the candidates for our new sales position looking, anything promising?”

HR: “Well, the resulting responses coming into the inbox via the job boards we posted on have been rather sparse. We did have one person apply directly, well, apply may not be the correct word. This person came in directly, but we ascertained he was currently already employed at a competitor.

They stated they were ‘number one in total sales and new customer acquisitions for the last three years running.’ However, they didn’t apply using our recommended ‘job board postings.’ They just came in and asked if they could speak to the sales-manger directly.

Seeing that they obviously couldn’t ‘follow procedures’ that we clearly laid forth, we deemed they wouldn’t make a ‘good fit’ as a potential employee. So we didn’t have them fill out any paperwork or grant them any sort of ad hoc interview unannounced. But we’ll keep a sharp eye out for any potential candidates that come through the requisite channels. And just to reiterate, as I’m sure you’re well aware, it is a ‘tight labor market’ currently, it’s all over the news confirming just that. So finding that certain someone that’s the “right fit’ is probably going to take longer than expected. Yet, not too worry, that’s what you have HR for.”

The above is an abomination for hiring true talent in any job market. Tight, loose, whatever. And, happens far more often, in all instances, not just sales – than not.

If you need to hire remedial help (such as HR, for one) than by all means use some form of job board or listing service. Although I would implore you not too, regardless. For hiring is, should be, and needs to be, a sacrosanct process. The right person, the right fit, the right qualifications, the right ____________(fill in the blank) should be determined eye-to-eye, face-to-face, by the person or department head that needs the acquisition thereof. Hence, the department head needing a position filled should be the one actively recruiting candidates, then, after the decision to hire is made – introduce them to HR to fill out the proper paperwork and have protocols explained. Not too mention said “department heads” should have a Rolodex®, or other means full of potentials.

If it is HR that is doing the recruiting of candidates, not the department heads? That’s your true problem, not the other way around.

The reason os simple: A person with none of the original background needed might be the perfect candidate to fill a position if proper training is applied. That can only be measured and applied if the person needing the hire – is – instrumental in-or-for obtaining the hire. Period. i.e., How many times have you been in the presence of someone and thought, “This person would make a great ________(fill in the blank) at our company.” But was currently doing another job completely unrelated to your current vacancy? e.g., You need a warm, friendly, enthusiastic sounding call center supervisor, or such. And this person is currently a bagger at the local grocery store. And then – you do nothing. After all, that’s HR’s department – not yours.


A sales-manager (or CEO, et cetera) not actively seeking talent is not, repeat, is not doing their job correctly, along with not doing what’s right for the organization. This is where true competitive edges come from.

You want to make a real change that offers a competitive advantage that will strike fear into your competitors, which many (if not all) won’t figure out for years, if ever? Let alone do?

Change this one aspect and the rewards will transfer not only down the line, but top to bottom, as in. top line – to bottom line.

HR should be excluded from the hiring process other than making sure the necessary documentation to hire (or fire) is filled out properly, where corporate rules, regs, benefits and more are explained. That’s it.

That’s when I usually end with, “If there any further questions, I’ll be happy to answer or explore further.” And the person who brought me stops sweating, as I once again marvel how applause can act like AC for some.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr