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Modern Hiring Is Broken Through The Pursuit Of Perfection

Written by: Evan Seguirant, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

There is a good chance that you know someone who is in the midst of the most challenging job search of their life. Over the past 12 months, the tech industry has experienced wave after wave of layoffs, Crunchbase News reports that over 220,000 workers in the U.S. have been impacted since 2022.

woman sitting in front of laptop feeling tired

Based on these market conditions, we’re seeing a dramatic swing back toward employer-driven hiring practices, leading to the most pro-employer hiring climate of the past decade. This shifting of leverage comes at the expense of the individuals and the overall candidate experience, paired with unanticipated costs and branding consequences for employers. Let’s diagnose the hiring process step-by-step to further understand the negative market sentiments that are flooding our LinkedIn news feeds.


The Hiring Process: Disparate Experiences of Candidates &Hiring Teams


1. The Application

The tension in the hiring process begins immediately. Candidates are advised to apply to jobs that they feel qualified for. Everyone has a different threshold for what it means to be qualified and that threshold broadens during strenuous markets. Candidates are asked to fill out extensive application forms, much of which are repeatable data points already included on their resumes. Doing so at volume is intensive and mentally taxing, especially if you took the time to doom-scroll on LinkedIn before filling out applications that day. Across the screen, recruiters are battling anxiety about their organizational worth. Few job functions have been more heavily impacted by the economic turbulence than recruiting. Due to the perceived saturation of the talent market, organizations are tightening their requirements and elevating qualification expectations in hopes of finding the perfect hire. Consequently, these frustrations are compounded by the viral social world we operate in. Check your LinkedIn homepage on any given Tuesday and their recommendations algorithm serves you a buffet of layoffs announcements and application hopelessness despite a low unemployment rate of 3.5% in the US.


2. The Interviews

Hiring processes are once again becoming more procedural and less humanistic. We are prioritizing the collection of information and signals on qualification, but at the expense of the human experience as our hiring approach becomes increasingly transactional. With the surge of applications and the pressure from the business to over-screen for each role, hiring teams are optimizing for processing a high volume of candidates in pursuit of the perfect hire.


Over-engineering technical assessments is a real problem, hiring teams rarely feel like they can screen any candidate as completely as they would like to. The output is an intensive process that’s exhausting for candidates and hiring teams alike. We’re seeing a trend towards technical take-home assignments that may require 5+ hours to complete. Then a follow-up technical conversation to discuss the take-home in-depth. Followed by a 4+ hour loop of onsite interviews with subjective behavior discussions and more technical deep dives. Some companies are even bookending the experience with an executive1:1, even for junior or mid-level candidates. This has been a problem for years and I’ve seen this in several organizations, we always want more signals to confirm that this would be the right hire. This pain point is becoming increasingly prominent with the shift away from the decisive, hyper-growth hiring of the past few years to a more selective approach where teams are vetting every facet of a candidate.


3. Communicating the Outcome

Candidates are often unsatisfied with the outcome of the interview process. Ghosting remains problematic. A recent survey by Greenhouse Software indicates that 75% of job seekers have been ghosted by a company during their most recent search. Even when closing out the loop, companies are hesitant to provide interview feedback due to the potential legal liability.

Seeking Perfection vs. Hiring with Conviction

In preparation for this article, we asked highly qualified members of our networks to describe some of the challenges that they’ve faced as job seekers. A common thread involved the indecision of hiring teams at the end of the process. Several of these candidates were given positive signals throughout laborious interview loops before being told that they were either (1) overqualified for the role or (2) that the role is on hold until they interview more candidates, despite assuring the current candidate that they are qualified. In many cases, being qualified isn’t enough, companies are hesitant to hire great candidates in pursuit of perfection.


Market Dynamics: Consequences & Future Considerations

With thousands of qualified individuals pursuing the same roles with a limited number of companies, prioritizing the candidate experience has quickly become a ghost of the past. After years of concessions for the sake of competitive viability, many corporations are seeking to regain control at the expense of their employer brand. The combination of the global pandemic with the already intense competition for talent resulted in unprecedented benefits for employees- remote or hybrid work became the new normal, diverse hiring was properly prioritized and celebrated, and companies invested in retaining their workforce. So, what are the consequences of the pro-employer market shift?

  • A saturated but jaded talent pool.

  • Perceived talent availability is enabling predatory hiring practices.

  • Increased cost per hire.

  • Elevated risk of disruption.

  • The burden of unfair expectation on new employees as they ramp up into their new roles.

As an industry, how can we do better?

  • Drive hiring practices with conviction.

  • Accept and embrace variance. Interviewing is an imperfect science. Regardless of how disciplined and attentive your team is during the hiring process, there will be wins and losses that surprise you. Celebrate the wins and be comfortable performance managing the losses.

  • Continue to invest in your employees, and retain them through your actions and support.

Our conclusion is that how organizations engage and hire during times of industry instability is an actual reflection of their cultural values. This manifests in how corporations treat their current and potential future employees. Organizations with a keen awareness of the consequences of their actions today will see the immense benefits materialize in their hiring outcomes and brand representation for years to come.


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Evan Seguirant, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Evan Seguirant is a talent acquisition professional who specializes in the ideation and implementation of recruiting programs for progressive organizations. Evan served as the Head of Talent for early-stage startups before joining Twitter, where he partnered with executives to build the engineering and product teams for high-profile products like Twitter Spaces, Blue, and Fleets. Evan’s passion for developing cohesive talent strategies, hiring with intentionality, and building exceptional teams was the framework for founding Voyager Talent Solutions. The firm serves a critical niche in the market, offering the delivery capabilities of a traditional agency and the program experience of corporate leadership.

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