Recruiting Practices That Are, And Deserve To Be Fading Into History

There are 8 common recruiting practices that are becoming obsolete, just as newspaper ads and application forms did years ago. Smart recruiting leaders need to be aware that these common practices like fit, salary disclosure, drug testing, and non-competes are already being pushed aside at top companies. This gradual obsolescence isn’t new. In fact, the very best recruiting leaders assume obsolescence

They automatically assume that every one of their programs and tools is already becoming obsolete. In today’s case, the obsolescence is due to several factors, including new laws/court cases, federal actions, new technologies and HR hypothesis testing. Of course, individual recruiters can choose to deny the fact that these eight 20th century practices deserve to be stored in a history museum forever. Unfortunately, taking a “wait and see” approach will dramatically hurt their organization’s recruiting results and their professional standing as a recruiter. The specific driving force behind each individual practice that’s becoming obsolete can be found in parentheses immediately after the title of the practice (i.e., (New law)).

The Top 8 Recruiting Practices That Are Fading Into History

The common practices on this list that are likely to provide the biggest surprise to recruiters and hiring managers appear first.

  • Salary range transparency replaces keeping salaries a secret (New law) – everyone in recruiting should realize that pay equity will be a major driver of change for the foreseeable future. So, the upcoming shift away from keeping salary ranges secret actually shouldn’t be much of a surprise when replaced with “salary transparency,” which forces salary range disclosure. This practice will become a common requirement in states that follow the lead of Colorado and Nevada. For example, the Colorado law requires that the salary range and a description of the offered benefits for each job be included in all job ads. However, requiring this salary transparency in a single state doesn’t just cover job ads placed in Colorado. Their law also covers nationwide ads that don’t specifically exclude applicants living in Colorado. This requirement spreads to other states like California, which already has restrictions on asking about salary history. As a result, it will be easier for candidates to cross-compare the salaries for similar open jobs at different companies. Unfortunately, it will be almost impossible for companies to keep their salaries a secret at the same time, which may hurt firms that pay at a low salary percentile (learn more here).
  • Drug testing for marijuana ends because it reduces the number of candidates (New laws) – the antiquated 20th century hiring practice of testing potential new-hires for recent marijuana use is becoming impossible to maintain. Although it will likely remain perfectly legal to test for marijuana use as more states make it legal in some form to use marijuana outside of work. Major firms like Amazon have already taken the lead in dropping testing new-hires for marijuana. Expect most major companies to follow when they realize that the practice adds no measurable value while scaring away many qualified applicants. Not just because they currently use marijuana, but many simply don’t want to work at an organization that would pry into what they do during their off-work hours (learn more here).
  • Fit assessment fades because of its negative diversity impact (Hypothesis testing) – because the recent focus on recruiting diverse employees is likely to continue growing. Both companies and individual hiring managers will be forced to note that most “fit assessments” made during interviews turn out to be inaccurate. In addition, the assessment is based on factors that discriminate against diverse candidates. Assessing emotional intelligence, coming late to interviews, and spelling errors in resumes will also fade in importance. They result in discrimination because they are also based partially on white European values and actions. Or because they screen out candidates who “don’t look” like your current team members (who may not be diverse). Hypothesis testing shows the opposite: those who think and act diversely add tremendous value to your team (learn more here).
  • Non-compete agreements for new hires fade when they become unenforceable (Federal action) – these non-compete agreements strived to protect company secrets and practices after years. Of course, these agreements have been unenforceable in California for years, and other states are exploring how to copy them. But a powerful proposed Executive Order is now making it clear that the Biden administration considers requiring and enforcing these restrictive agreements to violate workers’ employment rights. And once TA leaders realize that requiring these agreements (where others don’t) will put their organization in a disadvantageous recruiting position. They will drop the practice, and it will become a fossil. 
  • Anti-poaching agreements fade because the Fed labeled them as labor market collusion (Federal action) – for years, it has been quite common for firms in the same industry to attempt to reduce “employee churn” by formally or informally agreeing not to “hire away” each other’s talent. The laws themselves have not changed, but the Department of Justice has begun actively challenging these anti-poach agreements. They restrict employees’ freedom to move between companies freely. They had been labeled as a form of “labor market collusion.” This restraint of trade argument has already resulted in numerous firms being fined and/or censured. However, one firm is even facing criminal charges. Initial Justice Department actions have been mostly in tech firms like Google, Apple, and Pixar, but it will likely spread to all organizations (learn more here).
  • Deliberately slow hiring fades because it reduces candidate quality (Hypothesis testing) – a significant portion of hiring managers have historically believed that slow “deliberate hiring” was the best way to assess top candidates. However, hypothesis testing data has shown that in a highly competitive talent marketplace, slow hiring actually hurts your quality of hire. Either because top candidates have taken faster offers from other firms. Or because the slow hiring process gave them the unfavorable impression that everything at this organization moves slowly. In some cases, firms like Intuit have found that you need to hire in a single day if you want top candidates in a high-demand field (learn more here).
  • Technology advances gradually shift the recruiter’s role (Technology advances) – for the past several years, technology has been pushing to replace the recruiter’s role in sourcing and candidate assessment. However, that replacement has been taking longer than expected because neither the technology vendors nor TA executives know how to measure quality. Or because they are not willing to insist on measurable performance improvement after the technology is implemented. But the ability to search the web to find candidates will soon be, along with employer referrals, the only two primary remaining methods for sourcing. Technology and vendors supplied tools will soon dominate applicant and candidate assessment with their data-supported assessment tools. That means that the only major area of individual job recruiting that will still require an experienced recruiter will be selling applicants and candidates (learn more here).
  • Failing to measure quality of hire slowly comes to an end (Hypothesis testing) – I put this factor last because there is no single strong force pushing for the use of a new-hire performance on the job measure. Even though since 6 Sigma quality assessment became popular in the 1990s. Literally, every business function except recruiting has religiously measured the quality of its output. However, recruiting still finds dozens of lame excuses to avoid this essential measure, which can predict the new-hire success. In my view, what could be dumber than spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on finding a talented candidate and then not checking their performance level after they start working? For example, if you are recruiting a baseball pitcher, it would simply be silly not to check six months later to see if they were winning games and had a low ERA. Failing to measure your percentage of hiring failures would also be embarrassing. In my experience, only two factors will stop this painful omission. The push for recruiting to become data-driven and the use of machine learning (which requires a performance benchmark) both of these forces are slow but inevitable (learn more here).
If you can only do one thing© – during this tight labor market, an individual recruiter can have the most impact on their recruiting results by eliminating or discouraging the use of “fit assessment” during any hiring process that they are participating in.

Honorable Mention Practices That Should Be Fading Faster

These listed recruiting practices will fade at a slower rate because recruiters and hiring managers love tradition. However, each of these 20th-century practices is also slowly being recognized as dinosaur practices. Note: articles on each of these slowly fading practices can be found by searching my website.

Not being data-driven in TARequiring any face-to-face interviews
Brainteaser interview questionsOver relying on credentials and experience
Unstructured interviewsBody language assessment during interviews
Excessive number of interviewsRelying on resumes rather than LinkedIn profiles
Across-the-board hiring freezesBehavioral questions that don’t focus on current actions
Managing to reduce cost per hireBelieving resume content accurately reflects a candidate
Using active tools to find passivesBelieving in the accuracy of interviews/reference checks

Final Thoughts

In my view, it’s silly to expect a recruiting tool that was developed in the 20th century to provide a competitive advantage in a recruiting world overflowing with more complex 21st-century problems. However, because recruiting is a copycat industry (almost all benchmark before they act), I have found that you can’t expect any major change in overall recruiting until either a few major firms make the shift. Or after there is a change in laws, court cases, and technology effectiveness. So in my experience, if you want to see “the future of recruiting.” First, look at recruiting changes at Google, Amazon, and Sodexo. Then look for proposed changes in laws in progressive states like California, New York, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Colorado. And as long as liberals are in charge in Washington. Look for executive orders and actions by the Justice Department for your clues as to which practices are beginning their journey toward Jurassic Park. Alternatively, simply assume that every five years, every recruiting practice will become at least partially obsolete.

Note: This article is a think piece designed to get you to re-think keeping some of your current recruiting practices.

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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