Why Can’t You Fill That Leadership Position?
Do you have a position you can’t recruit to? To keep on posting the same position, with the same description, in the same places, is a little like the definition of insanity – you keep doing the same thing expecting a different outcome.
Instead, it’s worth taking a look to understand what the actual issue might be. No applicants? Maybe the job is not described attractively, or you are making the requirements too high. Plenty of applicants but no-one suitable? Are your standards or expectations realistic? Is there a way that you can structure the position so that more people might be qualified? Plenty of applicants, lots of interviews, but not the right candidates? Are you looking at people’s potential or simply their track records? Plenty of interviews, good candidates, but no-one interested in your offer? Did you do a good enough job of selling the position to candidates? Are you offering a sufficiently attractive compensation package? Someone accepts the job, but they leave after a short time? Did you provide enough of boarding? Is the job realistic? Is the leadership doing a good job of welcoming new employees? And so on…..and on.
There are many variations and nuances that you can add to these questions based on the type of person you are looking to recruit, the type of industry you are in, or the flexibility of the offers you are able to make. But the reality is that if you are struggling to fill a position you can’t simply keep doing the same thing to recruit in the hope the you will catch someone at the right time. Doing that is a little like putting a car up for a sale on at the curbside and waiting week after week while it doesn’t sell. You need to go out occasionally, change the price, clean it up a bit, advertise in different places/venues, promote different features, or even lower the price (raise the compensation). What you are able to do depends on your situation, but doing the same thing over and again is not just the definition of insanity, it may actually drive you crazy!
Better The Devil You Know
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘Better the devil you know’. The suggestion being that when making a choice, it’s more prudent to go with what you know something about, rather than the less known.
It’s interesting to note, then, that over and over in recruitment situations, I see people go with the choice that they know very little about (the external candidate) rather than an internal candidate with a similar level of skills and experience. In many cases, the internal candidate is seen as needing to grow in certain areas of skill or knowledge, or it may be that somewhere in the past they committed some kind of organizational wrong for which they are now eternally labelled (you remember Joe, he was the guy that caused that problem with the supplier in Tuscon, etc etc).
It could be argued that a strong recruitment process (though it’s also surprising how often that is lacking, but that’s another post) can help the hiring manager to understand and know the external candidate to a certain degree. But that knowledge cannot substitute for the depth of knowledge you can gain on an internal candidate, let alone what you may already know. Every candidate will have areas where they need to grow and learn. At least with an internal candidate you will likely be able to understand those things better before you make the hire.
There will always be a need to hire externally, but as we know, internal hiring creates engagement, speeds the time to productivity, and creates a great story about your leadership talent practices.
Wherever possible, go with the choice you know.