Recruiting Transparency Can Be Scary, But It Might Be Just What You Need

We’re all on this “transparency” bandwagon in our hiring practices.

We make sure to be ultra transparent about everything — except the real challenges that we’re currently facing. See why transparency is in quotes up there now?

Recruiters, although not intentionally trained to sell, end up being quite the pitchmen when it comes down to it. They become transparent about all the right things.

After all, we all want our organizations to be projected in a very certain (positive) light. What if the answer to finding the right talent is an honest cards-on-the-table approach?

Diluted problems, diluted talent

Instead of playing your business challenges down and hiring someone who may or may not be effective in the solution, try putting it all out there.

Thomas Goetz, co-founder and CEO of Iodine, a digital health startup, wrote about making his first, vital hires. His product and processes needed help, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. He knew that in order to find the right person for the job, he needed to let them know what that job was – honestly.

He said:

Rather than insist we’ve figured it all out, we walk through the problem we’re trying to solve, and how it will demand creativity, collaboration, and a bit of luck. In other words, we make our problem seem as formidable as possible.”

While Goetz embraced the spirit of true transparency, he managed to still frame this position as a dream job for a small, yet perfect pool of talent. Now that is good recruitment messaging. The kind of talent that Goetz and his budding company needed was the kind who would be inspired and motivated by the challenges Iodine was experiencing.

Do job seekers want an honest company culture?

No, really! A recent SoftwareAdvice survey revealed that an honest company culture is the most preferred attribute that job seekers look for. In fact, a surprising one-third of survey participants value this attribute over others they like: causal/relaxed, family-oriented, friendly, and even fun.

In other words, job seekers don’t expect perfection, but they demand transparency. While you should always highlight the pros of your organization, embracing transparency can actually be a strong competitive advantage in your talent attraction initiatives.

To be frank, when recruiters are misleading about expectations, challenges and workplace issues, it’s a whole lot easier to place people. However, it is precisely the talent you need most that will be the first to walk out of a position that falls short of expectations. Those who stay are disheartened, unmotivated and will likely always lack a respect or attachment to the organization.

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If both parties know what they’re getting into, then it makes no sense that 40 percent of employees who left their jobs voluntarily in 2013 did so within six months of starting. Equifax Workforce Solutions also revealed that more than 50 percent of voluntary turnover happens within the first year.

Turnover isn’t completely in the hands of recruiters or hiring managers, but there are best practices and process that should be followed to decrease these alarmingly high rates, and transparency happens to be one of them.

Transparency can be scary

The job isn’t to fill a position; the job is to successfully fill a position. That means that metrics like turnover, engagement and productivity are important in gauging the success of your recruiting practices.

Turnover is almost always more costly than an increased time-to-fill, when you’ve found a true match for the position, and a true match takes transparency.

Complete transparency might be scary, but it might just be what your recruitment messaging needs. Framing your current business challenges in the right (yet honest) light could be exactly when your ideal talent pool wants to see.

Instead of being the “fun” and “awesome” place to work, how about being the honest, challenging and rewarding place? 

Raj Sheth is the co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, he founded two other web startups -- a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston. Visit his website at recruiterbox.com.

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