THE BLOG

How 'HR' Scares Away Talent

03/04/2015 08:55 am ET | Updated May 03, 2015

It's a different job market now. Joining the long-term unemployed and those left lost and given up in the wake of the Great Recession are now people who have found work. Valuable Talent now looking for what's next. Talent that could mean the difference between the success and failure of your company.

Unless human resources scares them away.

Listen to Dave's story. A west coast based human resources executive himself with 15 years experience. He knows the way the hiring process is supposed to work.

He got the written offer from the global manufacturer and ended up turning it down. An unthinkable move not all that long ago when there were no jobs. A reader and user of Finding Work When There Are No Jobs, Dave summed up how HR led him to the decision to turn down the job. What did H.R. do?

1. Forgot ACTIVE Recruitment. When there are no jobs, it's a temptation for HR to get lazy. To simply open up the email and start scanning resumes. To forget about hunting and finding talent. Dave found the company. They didn't find him. But talent won't always come to you.

2. Stayed passive. Dave initiated every single step of the process. Every text, every email and the rare conversations with the hiring manager.

3. Stopped Listening. It started when Dave asked for an interview appointment later in the day--any day--to avoid having to wake up at 2:00 a.m. and make the drive necessary for an early appointment. That request was ignored and the appointment was set for 7:30 a.m.

4. Showed they did not care. Among many examples, the offer letter was sent with instructions to reply two days before the letter was sent.

5. Partially Communicated. Standard information left out of every communication. The verbal and written offers were delivered promising "standard company benefits." But there was nothing that said what those were.

6. Offerred less money. The job included relocation. But the lump sum dollar amount left open the fact that even with a healthy salary increase, the cost of selling his house would likely leave Dave with a five-figure loss if he took the deal. The moderate salary bump eclipsed by the risk in selling the house. And starting all over with vacation days and stock offerings made the deal even more financially unwise for Dave.

7. Blamed the applicant. Dave was told by one exec that the company would assume the risk of selling the house. The written offer left out that promise. When Dave asked why, he was told that the executive never said they would do that. And that Dave must have heard it wrong.

8. Devalued the candidate's time. Stretching across a three-week time span of back and forth, Dave finally got a complete written offer at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. Along with a note saying "Please send your answer my Monday at noon."

9. Showed words didn't matter. Each note from the company contained the exact same boilerplate language on being glad to have Dave join the team. Yet nothing the company did backed up that language.

10. Forget why people leave companies. That Monday morning, with the high noon deadline looming, Dave tried one more time to get the hiring manager on the phone and see if there wasn't some way to make the deal work. While the hiring process had been abysmal and the 'red flags' indicated the potential for future trouble if he took the offer---even at a financial loss--this was a company with a great reputation. Maybe everybody in the process was just having a bad day. Maybe it really was Dave's fault, some missing piece of the process he didn't see.

Somehow, this one time, the hiring manager answered her phone. Dave again told her how excited he was about the job. Said the one remaining concern was the financial risk to his family on having to quickly sell the house.

What happened then astounded Dave. It also reminded him of the message from the management classic First, Break all the Rules. "People don't leave companies. People leave managers." Because the hiring manager could not have been more dismissive. She told Dave that the offer was final. Dave asked if he could have till close of business to discuss it with his wife. The manager answered. "You can have an hour."

Needless to say, Dave didn't take the job. The company lost the talent.

The money spent in that recruitment will never show up a balance sheet. But whatever the dollar amount, it was a waste.

And the talent?

Scared off by human resources.