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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How to Avoid Recruiting Black Holes and Optimize Your Orks


Blog Series – “Getting Your Unfair Share of the World’s Talent” – part 3 of 4

Just as important as building an internal culture of respect among your employees is fostering a culture of respect within your hiring process.

No matter what size your company is, technology has enabled you to reach hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of job seekers with every opening you advertise.  Since you can only hire a tiny percentage of the candidates you touch, this process generates exponential rejection.  It doesn’t have to: you can’t hire everyone, but you can leave every candidate with a positive experience.

Businesses historically treat job seekers with contempt by asking them to complete lengthy application forms and then allow “we’ll contact you if you are a fit for our requirements.”  Of course, 99.9 percent of applicants never hear from the company again, and their hour of invested time just fell into an uncaring recruiting black hole.

Job seekers have a long memory, and one resentful applicant in 2008 could be the star candidate who declines your offer in 2010.  On the other hand, something as simple as a courteous “Thank you for your interest in our company but this position is now filled” could earn entrance into a rich referral network somewhere for the future.  If every step in your hiring process expresses respect for the job seeker’s time and interest, you can transform these interactions into positive exponential energy.

Sometimes, there just isn’t enough talent to go around.  We had the opportunity to meet and talk with Miranda Rivers, the extras casting director for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, some of which was shot in New Zealand.

Miranda’s task was to hire 5,000 people to play 20,000 roles in difficult conditions (heavy makeup and costumes, 16+ hour days, often in inclement weather) for just $70 a day.  In some cases, she cast entire towns as extras.  When casting the orks – those huge, frightening creatures that lived underground – Miranda cast tall men to play them.  However, right when filming was scheduled to start, lambing season arrived on the South Island of New Zealand.

Overnight, Miranda’s “orks” vanished back to their farms and the director was left with primarily women.  Eyeing her 5’2” replacements, she did what any unconventional leader would do:  didn’t panic and got creative – fast.  To see if her idea was a success, rent The Lord of the Rings and see if you can tell which orks are men, and which are women.  Bet you can’t.

Just as we often advise job seekers to keep their bridges in good repair, we as hiring managers should do the same.  You never know when yesterday’s ordinary may be tomorrow’s extraordinary.

Next up:  Part 4 – Unconventional Ways to Build Your Recruiting Bench and Retain Top Talent

Adapted from “The Bite Me School of Management” by Kim Shepherd, CEO, Decision Toolbox

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