Circling The Wagons

Last week I posted a question on a few different groups in LinkedIn that I belong to posing a question about how an external applicant could penetrate the walls of a company that was trying to recruit for a new job.  Because it was a training role, I posted the question on HR & Training groups, but also a couple of groups focused on executive recruiting.

Just like in the western movies when the wagon train was being attacked by the indians, the HR & Training groups unanimously began circling the wagons and making excuses for the wall that exists within the recruiting process.  Not a single person suggested seeking out the hiring manager, or much of anything other than waiting to see what happens.

Now the executive recruiting groups were far from circling and acted more like the attacking indians.  To get in front of decision makers you much follow the establish rules for applying for a job, but after that you go and seek out the people who either make or influence the decision-making process.

Those people often include HR and I was quick to learn can sink the potential of the very best candidate if they so choose, so remember to step lightly.  But at the same time I asked who was the best to decide if a candidate fits the need?  Of course the answer is the hiring manager, but if HR is not cooperating now what?

We all know that internal politics are powerful, and even an external candidate needs to learn what works and does not work even before they join the company.  What struck me though was the nature of the common advice from the HR & Training Group.

“You must wait for HR to call you.”  “Never go over HR’s head even if they have not responded to you, they are busy.”  And my favorite is, “often the hiring manager doesn’t have a good handle on what they really need, and HR does.”

I guess all of these are possibly true statements, yet it was the fact that no one in HR & Training offered an idea outside the box that kind of alarmed me.  

In my book The Training Physical, I remind readers that Training is a support function, and their mission is to enable employees to perform their jobs.  When HR & Training lose sight of their purpose to support, then we end of fighting a losing battle.


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